Letters to the editor: 08-17-19

Oahu access grab?

The proposed administrative rules for access to Maunakea are due to be voted on by the UH Board of Regents on Aug. 30. There are a number of heavy-handed rules that could be used (at the whim of the UH president) to severely limit Big Island residents access to Maunakea. These rules are available on the OMKM website, and include:

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1) Access by private vehicles may be restricted by utilizing shuttle vehicles in lieu of private vehicles.

2) Limiting the number of vehicles allowed access.

3) Charging fees for entrance and parking.

4) Putting a gate up at the Visitors Center.

5) Mandatory cultural orientations, possibly every time you go up the mountain.

Nowhere in the rules is there any differentiation between tourists and Big Island/Hawaii residents’ rights of access. If, in the future, there are over-crowding issues at the summit, have tourists pay fees and take shuttles, not Hawaii residents.

Instead of attempting to turn Maunakea into a tourist-like experience, I urge UH to put their resources and energy into making local access easier and more enjoyable. Inhibiting our access to Maunakea is not the way forward.

The OMKM announced on Aug. 9 that they will be conducting a study on the public and commercial tour capacity for Maunakea. This should have been done before these rules were proposed. No action should be taken on these rules until this study is complete and the public has been apprised of its results.

If you believe that the ability of Big Island residents to access Maunakea in private vehicles for spiritual purposes, snow-play, or stargazing needs to be enhanced, rather than further restricted, now may be your last chance to act. Email your public testimony to the Board of Regents at bor.testimony@hawaii.edu or testify in person.

Thomas Bearden

Ninole

Injustice true reason for protest

I have been closely following the well organized and sincere protest of the planned construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope. Am I the only one to see that this protest is not about the telescope or the sacred mauna, but a vehicle to get the powers that be to realize that many Hawaiians have issues of past and present injustices that will never be addressed by the state and blocking the access road gives them the power to force the issue?

Maybe we should start talking about what they want to happen long after this current issue is forgotten. After all, even if they “win” the next day will be business as usual. It always happens.

Bob Smith

Honaunau

Protest not like ferry issue at all

I’ve just read a letter where the author compares the ferry protest with the Maunakea protest, claiming that both are minority’s wishes winning over the majority. I don’t think this is true.

The ferry was a service that would have been a benefit to everyone in Hawaii. Yes, a minority did stop it but you have to remember that a Republican governor brought the ferry to Hawaii, a state that is run by Democrats with close and long ties to the transportation and shipping companies, which may have had some objections.

This was a subject that actually divided the local population, whereas what you see on the mountain is a group of a thousand active protectors. What you don’t see is the thousands of protectors like myself who are not on the mountain.

Unlike the ferry, TMT serves only a few in the business of astronomy and hardly anyone else. What it means to me is an unsightly monster overshadowing the beauty of Maunakea. Yes, I understand the knowledge that will be reaped from the telescope and I agree the telescope should be built, just not on Maunakea.

As far as our children’s astronomy education needs, there are still telescopes that have helped educate our students. You don’t need a Cadillac to learn how to drive. The Canary Islands want TMT to be built but it appears that it’s the government and contractors that want it, and the discontent from the local residents has already surfaced. They also don’t want TMT on their island, which is the size of Molokai.

We do need construction for our construction industry but sensible construction such as public housing. The only public housing that I know of in Kona is for the elderly. For starts a 400-unit housing project would put roofs over many families, families that are homeless going without things that we take for granted and could, of course, reduce pressure in the homes that hold two and three generations under one roof.

But I don’t see this happening until our leaders realize that Kona was our home before the resorts and gated communities came and decided what was best for Kona.

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Paul Santos

Ocean View