Kauai County

Kauai mayor faces
probe in landslide fight

The County Council is considering
using its investigative powers

By Anthony Sommer

LIHUE >> The Kauai County Council agreed yesterday to hire a special counsel to advise it what steps would be required if the panel decides to go ahead with an investigation of Mayor Maryanne Kusaka.

The Council has never used the investigation powers given it in the county charter.

At issue is the mayor's failure for seven months to take action against retired Oahu auto dealer Jimmy Pfleuger for causing a major landslide by slicing away part of a hill without obtaining county grading permits.

Pfleuger has been cited by two county agencies, but they have taken no action to enforce the citations.

"There is, in my opinion, enough allegations and assertions to pursue an investigation," said Councilman Kaipo Asing.

Two weeks ago, the County Council, frustrated at the administration's inaction, recommended the county prosecutor file criminal charges against Pfleuger. Grading without a permit is a misdemeanor.

Council members insisted yesterday's decision to consult with an attorney does not mean they have decided to go ahead with the probe.

But the mayor's most ardent critics made it clear they intend to press ahead.

"The question the investigation will attempt to answer is, 'Why did the county allow this?'" said Councilman Gary Hooser.

If there is an investigation, it will center on the failure of both the county engineer and the county Planning Department to take action against Pfleuger for a landslide he caused by carving a new road to Pilaa Beach.

The beach adjoins a piece of property he is developing into a subdivision of gentleman farms. Last November, during a heavy rain, the mountainside collapsed, pouring mud on land where three families live.

Last week, the state Department of Land & Natural Resources, which has jurisdiction over the beach, ordered Pfleuger to come up with a plan to remedy the problem.

The Land Board is expected to discuss the matter at its July 16 meeting.

Pfleuger also has been fined for diverting a stream without a state permit and building a berm without a county permit on the same piece of property.

Kusaka was not available for comment. Pfleuger has declined several requests for comment.

County of Kauai

E-mail to City Desk


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