Dear Council Members,
I am writing in regards to Building Code Bill 270 that is currently being reviewed and in consideration of amending. I live rurally in Puna and have done so for the last 6 years on my land. I am a professional and have my own business, however, I cannot afford to build according to the current building codes of HI. As a result, I have built using mostly recycled materials. While my finances prevent me from building in accordance with HI building codes, my conscience also prevents me from following the current codes. I believe very strongly in sustainable living and this includes sustainable building practices. Unfortunately, in our Western culture, we seem to be moving further and further away from living in a way that takes into account the fact that the planet is a closed system and that means our resources are finite. Our homes are increasing in size while the pockets of corporate entities also increase in wealth. I believe in living in such a way where my footprint is as small as I can feasibly make it. This means living off the grid – having a solar system, catching my water and, yes, composting my own manure. My grandfather told me a story recently about his days growing up in Philadelphia and how, when the horse and carriage came down the street to sell and deliver produce to the people, the people rushed out not as much for the vegetables as they did for the horse’s droppings. This was gold to them because they used it to fertilize their own gardens. Recently, I picked up a book in my local library called “Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind” written by Gene Logsdon. It is an in-depth look at the insanity of our current system of waste management as well as our agricultural system. I strongly suggest you read this book as it will give you insight into why so many people are using composting toilets and how this particular system of “re-use” is beneficial.
I don’t want to be considered a criminal simply because I choose to live in a way that is less harmful to our precious island. Of all places, we in Hawaii need to adopt policies and laws that protect people such as myself who are doing our best to conserve our natural resources. By using recycled materials as well as local woods such as guava to build, people like myself are acting as stewards not only to HI but to the forests being cut down in CA and OR from which wood is shipped to HI for building. There is no reason why I should not be allowed to be a steward of my own land and live in ways that stem from a deep belief and desire to care for the earth in my own small way.
As far as Building Code Bill 270 goes, I strongly request that there is inclusion of an amendment stating “adoption of this regulation does not limit or prevent the adoption of alternative codes and building regulations by Hawaii County, nor does it require a future amendment to this bill.” I also request the removal of the section 5-48-5 on Page 17 that changes infractions from a civil to a criminal offense. Unfortunately, I am currently off-island otherwise you would see me in person at your next meeting about this issue. I sincerely hope that you consider the testimonies of people like myself when you decide upon this bill. Please do not make us criminals simply because we want to live in sustainable ways that are not yet considered acceptable. Be the pioneers and the courageous men and women who choose to stand up for what’s right in a time when the planet so desperately needs our help. Let’s make Hawai’i the role model to which other states can look and be inspired.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.