September 2009

Pursuant to the the Maui County Charter, the General Plan Advisory Committee has spent several years putting together a County zoning plan to take us through 2030. The draft went to the Planning Commission, whose members proceeded to extend the urban growth boundaries to include a number of developments that otherwise would have had to seek a waiver from the County Council to proceed.

The Draft Plan already allowed for considerable growth in population, so I’m not clear as to what’s driving a couple of the Planning Commission’s actions, which included support for:

  • Oluwalu Town: the former sugar growing area is now home to about 20 families, a French restaurant, a general store, and one of the few stretches of undeveloped coastline that’s easily accessible. The development would add 1500 homes and a large retail core.
  • Pulelehua: this mixed use development would grow up the hillsides above the Honokowai area. The developer has put considerable effort into highlighting the parts of the project that include less expensive homes, condos, and rental apartments as an opportunity for local working class families to live and work on the west side. The original plan put homes and businesses right up the Kapalua Airport fence. The draft plan added over a 150 acres of buffer space around the airport, which the Planning Commission removed.

By removing the airport buffer, the County would implicitly be saying they want the airport, which is owned by the State, closed. Once people started moving into Pulehua, it’s inevitable that they’ll complain about the noise. I contend that the Planning Commission should explicitly address the issue.

For Olowalu, Planning Commissioner Hiranaga stated that he was moved by those of the 20 families asking for local job opportunities, and was taking a leap of faith that Olowalu Town LLC wasn’t going to screw up the local environment. I find the idea of driving a major project forward to save a handful of people a morning commute laughable, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re more interested in a rapid run up in the value of their lots when next door to a high end development.

Also, it’s not coincidental that the few non-degraded coral reefs lie off undeveloped beach fronts, such as Olowalu. Based on experience with all major development and redevelopment projects in west and south Maui over the last ten years, it is inevitable that Olowalu Town would lead to short term mud runoff into the reefs, and long term yard chemical and asphalt runoff feeding algae blooms, invasive sea weeds, and depleted fish populations.

hello-kitty ar-15

Hello Kitty AR-15,
originally uploaded by D-Brown!.

A gentleman from Lahaina wrote in to castigate columnist Tom Stevens regarding his September 9th “Shave Ice” piece as a “liberal tirade full of inaccurate statements.”

The correspondent’s primary concern was over Mr. Stevens dismay at the open display of firearms at various public events held by the President in Arizona and New Hampshire, while broad-brushing the other issues Mr. Stevens raised regarding “Tea Party” tactics.

Other than that Mr. Stevens mistook an AR-15 for an AK-47, his points seemed to hit the nail on the head. The Tea Party-goers and the like have used lies and outrageous hyperbole to characterize the current Congress and Administration’s health care and tax proposals. The message I’m getting from the national GOP and its “useful idiots” is that truth is secondary when you’re trying to win. It’s useful to know that honesty is liable to be optional if doing business with – for instance – the guy running the Maui Tea Party website.

Yes, Arizona and New Hampshire are open carry states, and while a resident of Tucson, I periodically exercised my rights. However, I recognize that the -only- point of exercising that right at a political event is to intimidate the participants. Over what, universal health care? Really? If the writer and his peers were honest, they’d push their attacks to their logical conclusion, and call for the elimination of Medicare, Medicaid, and – to make a clean sweep of it – Social Security.

But, he won’t, because he knows these are all popular and useful programs, and that his party would get absolutely hammered if it tried.

Last week, we had two correspondents chime in on the subject of climate change, each featuring favored skeptics in academia. A gentleman from Hana references a Dr. Nicholas Drapela, currently an instructor at OSU, and a report from Dr. Alan Carlin from the EPA, while a gentleman from  Wailuku highlights a Dr. Richard Siegmund Lindzen of MIT.

Dr. Drapela’s skepticism rests on two pillars: that he thinks Dr. James Hansen of NASA is over the top regarding his position on climate change, and that research shows CO2 levels rising behind (and presumably in response to) rising temperatures over the last 400,000 years. While there’s no accounting for his feelings regarding Dr. Hansen, his CO2 level analysis is a failure. Previous warming phases preceded the Industrial Revolution, and there was no claim that CO2 caused them. Today, CO2 levels have climbed to levels beyond the recorded natural cycle, and it leads the trend of rising temperatures.

Dr. Lindzen’s climate change skepticism also has a couple of weaknesses. First, his criticisms seem to rest largely on his mistrust of computer climate models, while neglecting the actual data collected in the field. Dr. Lindzen also been on retainer to ExxonMobil. The corporation hired the same firms that organized the tobacco industry’s long battle to unlink tobacco consumption from disease, and redeployed them with millions of dollars to create the appearance of significant debate over the science of climate change.

Dr. Alan Carlin is an economist at the EPA. He gained notice from a climate denial report he prepared on his own time, and submitted to the EPA panel tasked with drafting a new policy on CO2. They reviewed the report, found it to be unsound and told Carlin to get back to doing his real job.

A commenter found my statement that the modern day increase in CO2 levels leads the global temperature increase to be “quite amazing”. I find it quite obvious.

Global Temperature & CO2 Levels (1959 = 100)

Global Temperature & CO2 Levels (1959 = 100)

Chart data sources: