January 13, 2008

Hawaii Are You Leaving, Things Are Just Getting Good






Greetings and welcome to our Monday morning photo experience. For today’s aviary adventure we are heading up to one of my favorite spots on the central coast, Four Mile Beach. In the first shot, you can see a lone pelican talking politics (a mini caucas) amongst a gathering of interested gulls. Then after hearing that Bill Richardson had withdrawn from the presidential race he took off faster than John Edwards leaving a John Kerry retirement dinner. I always love the action at Four Mile, because as we all know, gulls just want to have fun.

According to the U.S. census bureau, they’re not having nearly as much fun in the South Pacific, as close to 10,000 Hawaii residents moved from the islands to the mainland in the year ending in July 1, the largest exodus in at least 8 years. Economists say inflation, steep housing prices, afternoon trade winds and the growing gap between the cost of living in Hawaii and the mainland are driving (actually flying) residents away.

The overall population grew by 4,753 residents to a total of 1,283,388 since July 2006. There were 19,265 births, 9,269 deaths, 4,112 new residents from other countries and two bar mitzvahs on the Big Island. But 9,673 moved away.

The population trend could make it harder for local employers to find workers. According to Eugene Tain, who works for the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, “We need people, and people are moving out due to the cost of living and housing prices. Everywhere else on the mainland there has been a decline in housing prices, but we don’t see that in Hawaii.” I understand where he is coming from because in the words of Barbra Streisand, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”

Inflation is pushing the state’s housing, food, gasoline, papaya and energy costs further from the national average, making the mainland more attractive. According to Paul Brewbaker, the chief economist for the Bank of Hawaii, “When we entered the 2000′s, Hawaii wasn’t that much more expensive than the mainland on the average, and it was even cheaper than other places such as Orange County and San Francisco. That’s changed. The gap is widening.” It is true. I have shopped at the Gap and in many cases the stores are much larger.

The Census Bureau data shows Hawaii trailing all other western states in population growth, behind even Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Vermont. Well, some locals may be fleeing this tropical paradise but I can’t wait till August when I hit Sunset Beach on the north shore of Oahu as part of third stop of the Van’s Triple Crown of Relaxation.

So that’s our Monday Four Mile, 50th state update. I would be remiss not to mention what a fantastic NFL playoff weekend it was, capped off by the Giants beating the Cowboys to advance to next week’s game against Green Bay, who knocked off the Seahawks on Saturday during an blinding snowstorm. But as good as that game was, yesterday’s stunning upset of the Peyton Manning and the Colts by the Chargers was even better- a contest for the ages and definitely the best game I’ve seen this year. It was a super Sunday-I’m almost ready to take back half the terrible things I’ve said about Giant’s quarterback Eli Manning. Remember, I said almost. We’ll talk again next week.

This may not come as a complete surprise but I love sports, especially when my team wins and they don’t torture me in the process. So yesterday was a good day-make that a tremendous day. Throw in two basketball games last night that went down to the buzzer and I’m a happy camper. So enjoy the birds and enjoy the day and bring on the Packers and the Patriots. Aloha, sports fans.

1 Comment »

  1. Cool bird pics!

    Comment by Barbara — January 14, 2008 @ 5:45 am

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