I am one of the many volunteers at the Kilauea Lighthouse. The lighthouse is one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the world. It was built in 1912-13 and the surrounding grounds consist of a lovely, spacious bird sanctuary, so bird lovers like it too. I am a volunteer on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons and I take pictures of visitors, with their smartphone or camera, from the moment I arrive to the time we close.
I love doing it and it is probably my happiest time of the week. Our lighthouse is the No. 1 tourist attraction for visitors in Kauai.
There are a few days that we have over 1,000 visitors, but the average number of visitors is probably 800, which is still a large number. If you haven’t been there, please come.
On Sept. 19, there was a lull in taking pictures and a gentleman came over to talk with me. He was from Oahu and, as we talked, he asked, “When you take pictures, do you find out where they come from and why did they chose Kauai?”
I said that I do, and the visitors are from all over the world and they are wonderful. Sometimes I ask, “Why did you choose Kauai?” and the answer is usually, “Because it is rural, the island is beautiful, the people are friendly and it is what we think of when we think of Hawaii.”
He then asked, “Why did you choose Kauai?” I replied, “For exactly the same reasons. I love Kauai.” He then asked, “Do you have any concerns about the island?”
I said that I do have concerns. I like Kauai as it is and I feel that a high rise might be built on the island and that would change the uniqueness of Kauai forever. He then said, “A high rise is coming to Kauai.” I replied, “That would be terrible.” He then said, “Sorry.”
When he said “Sorry” it was like he was saying that it is already done, paid for, signed, sealed and it will be delivered. Not good news.
Kauai can survive a hurricane and recover, it can survive a flood and recover, but Kauai cannot survive a high rise and recover as the high rise would always be there and the character of the island would be changed forever.
For a long number of years, the building height limitations in Kauai have been 30 feet for residential construction and 50 feet for commercial construction. These height limitations are what have saved Kauai from high rises.
To change height limitations there must be an “enabler,” and that enabler is the mayor, as the mayor selects and appoints the members of the Planning Commission.
The Planning Commission has the power to grant exceptions. In the past, exceptions were rarely granted, and those exceptions were never more than 2 feet.
On Kauai, as noted in The Garden Island newspaper, we really do not have mayoral debates as we know debates, for the questions are prepared in advance and agreed to by both candidates in the “spirit of aloha.”
Only those questions are asked and no questions can be asked by the attendees. As a result, these candidates are not asked many things, including whether they would approve, if elected as mayor, an exception to the height limitations or would they enforce the current height limits as all previous mayors have done.
The good news is that we have an outstanding daily newspaper: The Garden Island newspaper. It is a great newspaper and their reporters do ask questions.
A reporter for The Garden Island newspaper can ask each of the two candidates for mayor if they would pledge that, during their time as mayor, they will appoint Planning Commission members who will stay within the current height limitations of 30 feet for residential construction and 50 feet for commercial construction as all past mayors and the current mayor have done.
Their answer must be a clear yes or no. If a candidate feels that they would have “to study that” it should be taken as a no as they can do their studying now and be ready to answer when asked by a reporter. Also, refusing to talk with a reporter would be clearly taken as a no.
Hopefully all candidates will pledge yes. If only one of the candidates pledges yes he is the one that we should vote for if we don’t want a high rise.
I am sure that at least 80 percent of our Kauai island residents oppose high rises versus 3 to 4 percent that would benefit financially from high rises.
We have a very great mayor now who represents the people of Kauai and cares for each one of us. Let us hope that that high standard of care and concern continues with the next mayor.
The mayor should always represent the people and not the special interests.
It is clearly the law that campaign contributions cannot be based on an agreement that, if you the candidate do this, we the campaign contributors will support you and fund your campaign. Campaign contributions can be given to influence but they cannot be given to buy the candidate.
The candidate has no legal obligation to support the action that a contributor has expected and the candidate can walk away from that expected action.
A candidate that may currently support the plan of allowing a high rise to be built in Kauai has three options.
These options are:
1. The mayor can appoint Planning Commission members who would approve the exception of height limitations and would allow a high rise.
2. That candidate can withdraw from the election due to some reason such as health.
3. That candidate can tell his major campaign contributors, “Sorry guys, but I have changed my mind and, if elected, I will appoint Planning Commission members who will stick to the current building height limitations without exception.”
By taking option three, if a reporter asks, “If elected mayor, would you have the Planning Commission members to continue to retain the current building height limitations of 30 feet residential and 50 feet commercial?” You can proudly say “Yes I will.”
Joe Frisinger is a resident of Princeville.