Political Radar

Green world

February 21st, 2014

Two years ago, the state Legislature and Gov. Neil Abercrombie approved a new law meant to help local farmers sell their products at retail outlets in agricultural districts.

While the city and the state Department of Agriculture were concerned about the potential for large retail projects on agricultural land, the law was supported by farm interests such as Kahuku Farms and the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation and passed overwhelmingly by the state House and Senate.

From the conference committee report:

Your Committee on Conference finds that this measure will provide agricultural producers with an additional outlet to sell their products. This measure will allow agricultural producers to explore creative ways to market their products to the community, while connecting the general public with locally grown agricultural products.

But Howard Green, the owner of Green World Farms in Wahiawa, discovered a problem.

He said city planners told him they did not have to follow the new state law. The state Land Use Commission routinely adopts state laws on such issues, he found, but defers to the counties if county laws are stricter. He said he had to get a city conditional use permit and follow city rules on operations.

So Green, who is also an attorney, has sought to change state law, this time by cutting the Land Use Commission out of the mix and ensuring that state law would control when it comes to the retail sales of farm-related products on agricultural land.

Green has helped draft a bill, sponsored by state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, that will be heard on Thursday before the Senate Agriculture Committee, the Senate Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs Committee, and the Senate Water and Land Committee.

“I wrote a statute that basically takes the Land Use Commission out of the middle and makes the state law applicable,” Green said of the bill, which he believes reflects the original intent of the Legislature.

Unfortunately for Green, there is another problem.

Kauai County Councilman Gary Hooser has flagged the bill as a threat to a new county law on Kauai that regulates GMO and pesticide use and a new county law in Hawaii County that prohibits new GMO crops.

Hooser, writing on Facebook, has branded the bill “still another attempt by the chemical companies and their friends at the Legislature to take away our county authority to regulate their activity.”

Hooser’s theory has been spread by anti-GMO activists on social media and by an uncritical alternative press.

On his blog, Hooser claimed the bill “impacts the county authority to regulate agriculture and would nullify the Kauai and Hawaii County pesticide/GMO ordinances.”

“Another bad bill,” he concludes. “Please oppose.”

Hooser said on Friday that there is a hypersensitivity given other bills at the Legislature over the past few years that would have preempted county agricultural laws.

“Regardless of intent, the bill clearly limits or attempts to limit county authority to regulate agriculture,” he said.

Green, though, insists that the bill has nothing to do with GMOs. Asked whether his intent is to preempt county GMO and pesticide use laws, he said:

“Absolutely no.”

11 Responses to “Green world”

  1. ohiaforest3400:

    Typical knee-jerk reaction by Hooser and the anti-GMO crowd. I have my concerns about GMO products (and would support "GMO-free" labeling") and the excessive use of pesticides that some some GMO crops are engineered to tolerate. I also understand that bills intended to do one thing can have unintended consequences. But I don't go screaming like Chicken Little at every bill that comes down the pike, I look before I leap.

    Look at the bill in question (http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2014/bills/SB2777_.pdf) since Derrick does not appear to have included a link above, and see for yourself: the bill restricts the Land Use Commission NOT the counties. Derrick was too kind when he wrote that "Hooser’s theory has been spread by anti-GMO activists on social media and by an uncritical alternative press." Seriously, Gary, you are eroding whatever credibility you have left. Soon, you will not be Chicken Little, you will a shameless, pandering chicken with your head cut off.

  2. wondering:

    the anti-GMO folks can be a little fanatical but hopefully this blog post doesn't make it directly into the print edition with further investigation. it would be nice to get the opinions of lawyers as opposed to politician-real-estate-agents or politician-medical-doctors. i wouldn't rely on a lawyer to perform surgery on me. why would i uncritically rely on a doctor (green) or real estate agent (hooser) to explain the law. the bill appears to create some kind of limitation on the County's zoning power.

    section 205-5 starts: "a) Except as herein provided, the powers granted to counties under section 46-4 shall govern the zoning within the districts, other than in conservation districts."

    it would be nice if we could have legal experts as opposed to non-legal partisans making apparently unsupported conclusions for their opinions. hopefully a more searching, objective analysis will make it into the print version other than he said she said of partisans here.

  3. Derrick DePledge:

    Wondering no@name:

    The "Green" mentioned in the blog post is Howard Green, the owner of Green World Farms, and an attorney. He said he helped draft the bill, which is relevant to intent, but not, of course, the last word on legal muster.

    You are apparently referring in your anonymous post to state Sen. Josh Green, an emergency room doctor and the chairman of the Senate Health Committee. That Green is not involved in this issue.

  4. ohiaforest3400:

    Wondering. did you see above that Derrick wrote "So Green, who is also an attorney, has sought to change state law"? Others of us who comment here are attorneys, as well. My comment reflects the frustration that people who have a strong policy position -- fair enough -- often disregard or twist the law to suit their own policy purposes. That makes bad policy, even if it makes good politics.

  5. Guido Sarducci:

    Anti-GMO activists having a knee-jerk reaction to something they know nothing about? Shocking. Just Shocking.

  6. Especially Incognito:

    Probably wants to pass the law allowing "weeds" to grow.
    Trying to change the law to his benefit and pocket book.

    So Green the lawyer is related to Howard. Keep it in the family.

  7. LabelItHI:

    Here is the applicable part of the bill [bracketed is an addition to the law]:

    SECTION 2. Section 205-5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (b) to read as follows:
    (b) Within agricultural districts, uses described in section 205‑2 shall be permitted [without further limitations or restrictions]...

    After reviewing the bill SB2777, Atty. Paul Achitoff had the following to say about it:

    "This bill would appear to strip counties of the authority to restrict use of agricultural land, and therefore is another preemption bill. It should be opposed."

    Hooser is right. Green the lawyer, not the Senator is wrong.

  8. Kibosh:

    Mr. Green drafted a bad bill for his 'professed' purpose.

    And you got the story wrong, Derrick based on the actual content of the proposed bill.

    So much for the 'uncritical' professional media.

  9. ohiaforest3400:

    LabelItHI, section 205-5 deals with powers of the LUC, not the counties, and the amendment restricts LUC power, NOT county power. EOS.

  10. Gary Hooser:

    According to Mr. Green himself the entire purpose of the Bill is to resolve an issue in which the City and County of Honolulu is limiting his Green World Farms retail outlet to 500 sq. ft. of retail area per Section 21-510A of Honolulu Ordinances.

    Should SB2777 pass into law he would not have to abide by this County limitation.

    Section 205-5 HRS, Zoning. Provides in pertinent part as follows: “(a) Except as herein provided, the powers granted to counties under section 46-4HRS shall govern the zoning districts, other than conservation districts.

    Further: Land Use Commission regulation section 15- “Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the following land and building uses are compatible and permitted within the following land use districts,
    except when applicable county ordinances or regulations are more restrictive. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, uses not
    expressly permitted are prohibited.”

  11. Especially Incognito:

    Unless each seed has a number, who can tell if GMO or not.
    Mix up the seeds and you got you got a GMO processed product.

    What I see is a lawyer trying to make loopholes in a Bill
    and use it for their benefit and profit. Seems he contradicts
    himself and lies daily but the truth has already been exposed to
    those who think and see straight.

    Green wants the whole foods cake.

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