Once upon a time I wrote an article about moving to Hawaii and posted it here on Konafriends.com. It did well in the search engines and generated about 550 comments over a year or two. But what happens with some websites that generate that amount of comments is they start acting weird. And so eventually I deleted the article and the comments since I just didn’t have time to deal with it.
And it’s just as well because that article had become irrelevant because things change. As you can see in the graphic above it takes $35 an hour income on the average to afford a two bedroom apartment here in Kona. So basically for most people, that’s a dual household income.
But the reality is there’s a lot of other places in the country that are as much or more money to live. Go price apartments in San Diego for example. If you can afford to live in San Diego, you can live in Kona. But if you’re thinking of moving to Hawaii, just bring lots of money with you, or get a good job making lots of money. If you have a technical skill that is in demand here, you’ll probably be able to make a pretty good living.
I was really lucky when I moved here. It was towards the end of 1996, and the population was about half of what it is now. There was no real competition for the type of business that I operate. I paid my rent the second day I was open. Life was good. You could drive down and park on the Kona pier and eat dinner in your vehicle while looking at the twinkle of the lights on the side of Hualalai.
You could walk through the village anytime day or night, and it was safe. When you went to the airport, you knew people there waiting to get on the airplane. When you came back to Kona, you knew people at the airport.
The first couple years Costco was open here, they sold pizza through the window on the outside of the building. They finally had to close that off because half the town was going out there to eat. Now you go inside order pizza. If you saw something cool at Costco, you always bought it if you wanted it. Because chances were on your next trip to the store the item would be gone and never seen again.
Back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s we had a couple of guys you would see around town that were homeless. At Pine Trees, there was a whole group of them that lived out there at the beach. Now it’s called Kohanaiki. And the owners of the property had no problem kicking them out when they decided to develop it. The county should do the same thing at the old airport park. At the time of this writing, there is a group of free loaders that have set-up camp at the park and told the media they have no plans to leave and we should just get over it. These people are bums. They choose to live that lifestyle. They are not interested in working and paying taxes. I’m not crazy about it either. But I like living with hot water. So I work. And pay taxes. That’s the rub. I’m not interested in subsidizing their lifestyle at the park. Don’t want to work? Fine. Go live on the lava flow outside of town. Nobody is forcing them to stay. Typical free-loaders. They think the world owes them something. When I was a kid, they were called bums. Not homeless. /Rant over.
We used to have a couple of homeless guys in town; they were nothing like the bums I mentioned above. They didn’t act as if anybody owed them anything. Live and let live is what comes to mind.
I used to see a couple of them at Lava Java having coffee on a regular basis. One of them I always remembered because he wore a sport coat, which is highly unusual in Kona. The other one had long tangled dreads, and you expected to see his photo on the cover of National Geographic because he was thin, his skin deeply tanned and weatherbeaten. He was unique, If you saw him, you remembered him. His name was Freddie.
Today, It’s not safe to walk through town at night. It’s not safe to go to the old airport park, day or night. You can’t park on the pier. And it’s pretty rare you recognize fellow passengers at the airport anymore since the population has doubled. I don’t blame them for moving here, hell, I did.
Tears For Freddie
I never knew the name of the man that wore the sportcoat. And I did not learn Freddie’s name until earlier this year. Freddie was here when I got here 20 years ago. My wife says he was here the first time she moved here 30 years ago. So let’s just say Freddie had been here a long, long time.
You don’t always remember what someone said, but you always remember how they made you feel. One year during Ironman I was walking to town and crossed paths with Freddie. The funny thing about it was I remembered him as unusual because when he greeted me in passing, I remember how I felt. Warm. He was a genuinely good soul. You could feel that about him.
What happened to Freddie a few days ago was tragic. West Hawaii Today wrote that Freddie was assaulted and then died from pneumonia a few days later at the Kona hospital. There has been an outpouring of support from the community to cover the costs of cremation and the spreading of ashes at sea. It only took hours to fund it after word spread on Facebook.
They could have taken anything they wanted from him. Instead, they chose to beat him like a dog. He was elderly and very frail. He was no threat to them. On what planet in their twisted minds is this okay?
I simply don’t understand what has become of Kona. But I’m catching on fast. There is still a good core group of people that live here. But there is another element of people here that has become the norm. They are dangerous, and good folks need to be aware of them. Unfortunately, I doubt the police and county will do what needs to happen to fix this problem. One of the reasons is because of the mayor. He thinks that everybody that lives in Kona just likes to bitch about the problems here. He said that the last time he was mayor. But, he lives 90 miles away and could care less. Just keep sending the tax money is pretty much what he’s all about.
Since the article came out in the paper, I’ve read cries for justice for Freddie on Facebook. I feel their pain.