Haleiwa Farmers’ Market gets a taste of state bureaucracy

Somebody please explain to me what I’m missing here. The State of Hawaii is telling the owners of the Haleiwa Farmers Market that they will have to move because they’re violating a state zoning law that prohibits vending from highways.

Have you ever visited this farmers’ market? I have, a number of times. I recall coming upon it about three years ago when it was in its infancy — a few vendors and a smattering of customers. We were back about a month ago, telling our out-of-state visitors it was something they should not miss on their tour of Oahu’s North Shore. They agreed, after spending about an hour chatting with some of the several dozen farmers and buying products to take back to Virginia.

I was delighted to see how the market had grown and how many people — an estimated 2,500 — visit it each Sunday. I explained that farmers’ markets were becoming wildly popular in Hawaii and that they were one thing that nobody could possibly find fault with.

I was wrong. I had underestimated our government’s ability to find wrong solutions to problems that do not exist.

To find the Haleiwa Farmers’ Market, drive through downtown Haleiwa on a Sunday morning to the north edge of town. Instead of rounding the curve to get back on the Joseph P. Leong Bypass, proceed straight ahead to a small piece of asphalt that used to be a highway. You not only have arrived at the farmers’ market, you have found the issue that has upset state officials.

The stretch where the asphalt still sits and the farmers’ market holds court on Sundays used to be a road. It stopped being a road when the bypass opened.

That was in 1993.

Although it has not been used as a road in more than 18 years, the land is still technically a road in the eyes of the state and therefore is covered by Section 264-101 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, which states that “vending from highways is prohibited.”

Market owners Pamela Boyer and Annie Suite report in their email to customers that they received word from the state this past Monday that the Department of Transportation had issued them an order to vacate within five days. That’s a bit of a short notice, considering the number of people that needed to be contacted and the fact that the market is three years old.

Somebody in state government apparently just recognized that a law was being broken and urgent action was needed.

Don’t you wish the DOT was this prompt in patching potholes?

Lawyers are now involved, including attorneys for Boyer and Suite and the state Attorney General’s Office. Following a meeting on Thursday, it was decided that the market had until the end of the month to move.

Meanwhile, the owners have delivered to the DOT 64 pages of signatures and comments from people wanting to save the market.

Save the market? Move the market? It sits on land that has served no useful purpose for almost two decades — other than to be a home for a successful business venture.

Here’s an opportunity for the state to solve a problem as quickly as it created one. Rezone the land, or exempt it from the statute, or use all that expensive legal talent to find some other way to save a good thing.

Again, what exactly am I missing here?

Haleiwa Farmers’ Market gets a taste of state bureaucracy – Pacific Business News

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