Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted January 7, 2023
Akina recaps victories, disappointments of 2022; is optimistic about 2023
Green tells HSTA he will propose new $500 teacher tax credit
$100M Affordable Housing Scam: HCDA to discount 501 Kakaako affordable housing units to insiders’ profitable nonprofits for a quick flip
SA: … Under HCDA rules, 20% of new high-density housing in Kakaako must be affordable to households with moderate incomes. Buyers of these “reserved housing” units must be owner-occupants and are discouraged from selling or renting their unit for two to 10 years, depending on the project, under a provision that allows HCDA to buy back the unit if the owner decides to sell or rent their home within the regulated term.
The one-time buyback option exists so HCDA can purchase such homes, at a price determined by a formula, and then make new sales at below-market prices to other moderate-income households.
(That was the plan--but suddenly the benefits are being ‘privatized’.)
However, HCDA, which was created in 1976 largely to revitalize what had been a decaying industrial area, has never exercised this buyback option due to what agency officials said has been a
lack of staff and financing (wait for insiders who bought ‘affordable’ units) to carry out purchases and (very profitable) resales.
Now (that all the insiders have flipped their units) the agency wants to give nonprofit organizations an opportunity to carry out such buybacks and resales in cases where original reserved-housing buyers (are a bunch of nobodies who) decide to sell or no longer live in the unit during the regulated term….
(Translation: Insiders running ‘nonprofits’ see an opportunity to cash in on more discount units and make a quick flip profit.)
In December the board approved modifying HCDA rules tied to most existing reserved-housing units with unexpired buyback periods so that a private nonprofit can act as HCDA’s buyback and resale agent.
The next step would be to determine criteria for participating, and then to seek participants.
Currently, 501 reserved-housing units have open buyback windows, including 150 at the Ke Kilohana tower at Ward Village, 150 in the ‘A‘ali‘i tower also at Ward Village and 152 at Rycroft Terrace in Pawaa where former hotel units were converted to satisfy a reserved- housing requirement for residential construction in Kakaako.
(501 units x $200K average profit each = $100M total profit)
Howard Hughes Corp., the developer of Ward Village, also broke ground in December on a tower dubbed Ulana Ward Village to deliver 697 reserved- housing units about two years from now….
“The challenge is going to be finding qualified entities to do this,” he said (without laughing) in an interview. “I don’t know if any one nonprofit can buy all those units.” (He then began giggling uncontrollably as worried looking aides led him away.)
(CLUE: Obviously this is a new grift for CNHA. Duh.)
KITV: Over the past 5 years, the state has only bought back 5-6 units, while at the same time waived 4 times the amount of buy backs.
SA Editorial: HCDA must fix its buyback plan
2013: Ethics complaint: HCDA Falsifies Kakaako Workforce Housing Affordability Formulas
2020: Amemiya Joins Pack of Insiders Grabbing ‘Affordable’ Housing Units for Themselves
read … Honolulu’s affordable housing disappearing prematurely
Capitol gradually reopens with ‘hybrid environment’
SA: … On Thursday the state House announced it would accept three types of testimony on bills, calling the development a “hybrid environment.” The Legislature will accept written, videoconference and in- person testimony for public hearings.
For people wanting to testify in person, a photo ID is required to enter the Capitol. Visitors will receive a wristband after going through a security checkpoint….
The legislative session starts Jan. 18 and is scheduled to convene at 10 a.m. Public access to the Capitol is scheduled for 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday….
read … Capitol gradually reopens with ‘hybrid environment’
Hawaii Increasing State-Leased Office Space
CB: … When the pandemic demonstrated that working from home can be a viable option, the Hawaii Legislature passed a law requiring the state to reduce the amount of office space it leases by 10% in five years. The idea was employees can function efficiently by teleworking and the state can save on rent.
But a new report by the state Department of Accounting and General Services shows that isn’t happening yet.
Act 219, which was approved in 2021, praised the use of telework during the coronavirus pandemic and said it should continue. The new law instructed the state comptroller to determine what support or infrastructure state workers need to do their jobs from home and mandated a 10% reduction of space leased by the state by July 1, 2026.
However, the state has actually increased its leasing since then, and DAGS sees more problems ahead. “One of the challenges (is) the everchanging staffing levels of the state,” according to the report….
For example, DAGS calculates that the decision by former Gov. David Ige and lawmakers to peel off the law enforcement functions within the Department of Public Safety to create a new Law Enforcement Department will require another 20,000 square feet of leased space. That new department “cannot be housed in any state office building,” according to DAGS….
The report shows DAGS was leasing 503,179 square feet of space statewide on July 1, 2021, when the new law took effect. That increased to 509,139 square feet a year later, according to the comptroller’s office. That was an increase of about 1%, and a step in the wrong direction….
read … Hawaii Is Struggling To Meet A Deadline To Reduce Leased Office Space
Reconsider The GET
CB: … Gains in private employment and private wages would offset the loss of state revenues….
read … Reconsider The GET
Another Year, Another Gambling Bill
KHON: … Rep. John Mizuno has announced that he will be introducing his Sports Gaming Bill tomorrow, Jan. 9 to Hawai’i’s Legislature….
The proposed legislation will allow customers to enter sports book and card rooms after they have registered with the premises and have paid a daily fee….
PU: New Gambling Legalization Bill Coming To Hawaii House
read … Gambling bill coming, but what does that mean?
TMT environmental review delayed by voluminous comments
SA: … The National Science Foundation is already behind in its effort to evaluate whether the stalled Thirty Meter Telescope project should be reinvigorated with $850,000 or more in public funds.
The agency announced that the timeline for its environmental review — expected to last at least a couple of years — has been amended due to the large volume of comments it received during the effort’s opening public comment period.
An NSF spokesperson told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that verbal and written comments provided during the initial public meetings in August, as well as comments submitted online, by email and by mail during the July 19-through- Sept. 19 scoping comment period continue to be evaluated.
All told, there were some 2,500 individual submissions, with the total number of comments estimated at 7,000….
read … TMT environmental review delayed by voluminous comments
HMC overcrowding project: $50 million expansion would add 55 beds
HTH: … The $50 million project, started in 2017, would add 36 acute beds for nonemergency patients and 19 ICU beds, one more than previously proposed due to an adjustment to the plans.
HMC currently has 166 acute beds, 24 temporary acute beds, and a 28-bed Emergency Room, all of which have been consistently filled for years, according to HMC CEO Dan Brinkman.
“I haven’t ever seen it this busy in the 15 years I’ve been with Hilo Medical Center,” he said, adding there were 21 holds for emergency beds on Wednesday. “Our ICU is full — it’s been full pretty much every day for the last several years.”
Green, a Big Island physician, recently voiced support for the expansion.
“We are going to authorize $50 million in capital improvements to expand Hilo hospital,” Green said last month during a livestream with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “Hilo hospital wants more medical surge unit beds. These beds take care of people when they’re in deep crisis so that people don’t have to be transferred from Big Island to Oahu.”…
HMC continues to struggle with staffing shortages as well, with one report from September indicating the hospital was short 75 full-time positions…..
SA: Hilo Medical Center awaits $50M expansion OK
read … Optimism for HMC project: $50 million expansion would add 55 beds to the facility
Only a fraction of cemeteries on the island are licensed by the state and not all have a perpetual care fund
CB: … Hawaii state law requires cemeteries be licensed and put money in their own perpetual care fund, but only 13 cemeteries are licensed.
Community volunteers and church groups say they are doing their best to help some of the struggling cemeteries, but they can only do so much in cleaning up and raising money to assist in maintenance costs.
The state and county can take possession of abandoned cemeteries by eminent domain. The state currently cares for seven cemeteries, but state-owned cemeteries aren’t always in top shape — something blamed in past years on budget cuts at the state Department of Accounting and General Services that led to a loss of some grounds maintenance staff positions.
Cemetery historian Nanette Napoleon said many cemeteries were built before management rules were created by the state, which is why they are in disarray….
To prevent cemeteries from becoming dilapidated, the state implemented a cemetery licensing law in 1967, requiring cemeteries to be licensed under the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs and create individual perpetual care funds. In addition, cemeteries are required to put money from their plot or niche sales into a perpetual care fund to cover maintenance costs when cemeteries are full.
According to DCCA, 13 cemeteries are licensed in the state and have created separate trusts….
2011: State Sues to Get Back $39M Looted from Graves by John Waihee
read … Only a fraction of cemeteries on the island are licensed by the state and not all have a perpetual care fund