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Monday, May 06, 2019
May 6, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:30 PM :: 1177 Views

Conflict of Interest? Judge Hiraoka’s Adventures in Dubinland

OHA board approves revisions to trustee protocol allowance

Hawaii Republican Party Convention Set for May 11

Honolulu 5th-lowest Small Business Growth

Star-Adv: Spur relocation from lava zone

SA Editorial:  … Final decisions on relocation programs or future development in the lava zones aren’t expected until the end of this year or later. In the meantime, some displaced residents and others are pushing Hawaii County to take action, as nearly 130 permits have been issued to build or rebuild, with almost half in the hard-hit Leilani Estates residential subdivision.

It’s unclear why, while the vision for future in this corner of Hawaii island is being sorted out, the county has failed to put in place a moratorium on building in high-risk areas. It should have. Moving forward, the state’s and county’s best interest is served by discouraging the redevelopment in zones deemed as high risk for lava inundation….

The state and federal governments have provided or committed more than $300 million in recovery funding and loans. Federal aid covers lava and flood impacts tied to damage done when Hurricane Lane hit the island last summer; state funds are for lava only. Also in the works, according to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, is the possibility of “tens of millions” of additional funding from the federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program.

Given the promising picture for overall financial aid, there’s an understandable impulse to rebuild on relatively inexpensive land in Lower Puna that the U.S. Geological Survey has designated as Lava Zone 1 or 2, which are the highest-risk zones. But prioritizing the pouring of a large amount of recovery money into such a makeover would be a mistake.

The wiser tactic, it seems, is for the county to fold attractive buyout incentives into relocation, starting with a pilot program that it’s now putting together to help residents move to safer areas on a voluntary basis….

read … SA Editorial: Spur relocation from lava zone

Puna: 50 Lawsuits Against Lloyd’s

HTH: … Lawyers continue to file cases against Lloyd’s of London and its associated agents, brokers and adjusters on behalf of lower Puna residents whose homes were lost during last year’s eruption of Kilauea volcano and whose lava-related insurance claims have been denied.

“We’re nearing 50 filed cases,” said Kona attorney Jeffrey Foster, who is representing the majority of the plaintiffs in those cases. “We have a hearing scheduled for May 15 and then, possibly later on down the road.” ….

read … 50 Lawsuits

Tourist Growth Concentrated on TVRs and Timeshares

KHON: … According to Hawaii Tourism Authority data, in the last 10 years, vacation rental units have increased 138% statewide.  Timeshare units have increased about 43% and hotel rooms statewide have increased 3%.

In those 10 years, several hotels have closed across the state like the Makena Resort on Maui which became a luxury community and the Maui Lu in Kihei which is under construction to become a Hilton Grand Vacations Resort.

"Transient vacation rentals have hurt the industry,” said Mufi Hannemann, president & CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association. “But we're all for competition we just want everyone to play by the same rules."

Hannemann also points out that with county-proposed property tax increases on hotels, Hawaii could see trouble down the line

"Now more than ever, government has to be very, very careful in the wake of what has happened to the Modern and perhaps others down the line. We're having a difficult time trying to stay competitive and stay in business,” he said.

Local 5 has filed a federal complaint saying the Modern violated the laid-off employees’ labor rights and refused to bargain in good faith with the union.…

Skift: Hawaii Weighs Measures to Curb Airbnb

read … After layoffs, hotel workers wonder what's next for hospitality industry

Kauai County nearing contract to track illegal TVRs

KGI: … The penalty for operating an illegal TVR can be up to $10,000 per day of operation.

The county hopes to successfully identify more illegal TVR operations and take enforcement action on them accordingly, Hull said of the new software that will track illegal TVRS. The county has issued the bid award for the software to Host Compliance, a San Fransisco born company that works with over 230 local governments. Currently, the county is in contract negotiations with Host Compliance.

“We approximate there are roughly 3,500 to 4,000 vacation rentals legally occurring in the vacation rental zone and we have no problem with it,” Hull said at the February 27 Kauai County Council meeting when he was called before the council to give an update on the status of TVR enforcement. “They’re where they are supposed to be, they are paying their taxes.”

Hull estimated at the meeting there are 420-425 vacation rentals outside of the Visitor Destination Area on Kauai that hold non conforming use certificates that operate legally as well….

read … County nearing contract to track illegal TVRs

Grab is on for West Maui Water

MN: … During a time when water rights issues are boiling over throughout the state, two groups representing West Maui taro farmers, environmentalists and families filed a complaint last week reporting that three companies are wasting water from Honokohau Stream.

Ka Malu o Kahalawai and the West Maui Preservation Association, through attorney Lance Collins, submitted the complaint to the state Commission on Water Resource Management on April 23. Honokohau Stream is approximately 11 miles long and starts high in the West Maui Mountains, emptying into Honokohau Bay.

The 16-page document alleges that Maui Land & Pineapple Co., along with subsidiary Kapalua Water Co., and Kaanapali Land Management Corp. failed to properly maintain infrastructure and surrounding land that diverts water from Honokohau Stream. Because of this, vital water is being mismanaged and dumped, leaving kalo farmers without enough for crops and negatively impacting area land and water ecosystems, according to the complaint.

read … Complaint says stream water being wasted

NIMBYs propose county buy Affordable Kona Vistas subdivision parcel and turn it into ‘Open Space’

WHT: … The area in question is the site of the almost 70-acre Kona Village development, planned as the final phase of the more than 173-acre Kona Vistas project, which started in 1984 and is located mauka of Kuakini Highway.

Kona Village represents the project’s multi-family component, expected to bring with it 80 residential buildings, including two-story buildings with four units each and three-story buildings with six units each.

But the plans for the project haven’t been popular, especially with residents in the nearby subdivisions, some of whom have thrown their support behind a recent effort to nominate the site to the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Commission, or PONC, so the county can ultimately purchase and preserve the nearly 70-acre parcel.

“We’re not trying to stop development,” said Joel Gimpel, president of the Pualani Estates Community Association. “We’re trying to make sure that development is in the right (not) place(d) at the right time, and that is not the right place and it is not the right time (next to us).”…

…preserving the property as-is, he added, rather than following through with the original intent for the overall project wouldn’t provide for a critical need in the region: workforce housing….

read … Residents propose county buys Kona Vistas subdivision parcel

Good News: Reducing Hawaii Carbon-Based Transportation Delayed Again

IM: … The Trans PIG met twice and came up with “six main recommendations.” They were to establish a new carbon tax, Public Service Announcements, change parking costs, strengthen car-share programs, expand state efforts to develop electric drive infrastructure, and “close loopholes and provide enforcement of existing laws.”

The 2019 State Legislature considered and rejected a revenue-neutral carbon tax that would decrease the tax on transportation and increase the tax on electricity.

The legislature did pass two laws on electric vehicles. One would impose a tax on taxpayers who own electric vehicles and require that the tax go to support the general fund.

The other would tax ratepayers and use the money to fund tax breaks to people and businesses that install public electric charging stations…. 

CB: Dozens Of Climate Change Bills Went Down The Political Drain This Session

read … Reducing Hawai`i Carbon-Based Transportation Delayed Again

The Death of SB1374 Retirement Savings Program

CB: …In just 20 minutes, when the clock hits 6 p.m., scores of bills will die unless House and Senate conferees agree on a draft.

One of these, Senate Bill 1374, would set up a Hawaii Retirement Savings Program for private sector employees. It’s on death’s door, even though it passed both chambers unanimously earlier in the session.

Wearing their iconic red shirts and led by state director Barbara Kim Stanton, more than a dozen AARP Hawaii members occupy Conference Room 423 waiting for Sens. Brian Taniguchi, Sharon Moriwaki and Kurt Fevella and Reps. Aaron Ling Johanson, Sylvia Luke and Bob McDermott to vote on SB 1374.

A vote never comes, though, and soon the clock runs out, as it does on every last day of conference committee at the Legislature unless leadership elects to go into overtime. Out of more than 3,000 bills introduced in January, barely 300 will cross the finish line by sine die.

Johanson and Taniguchi, the conferee chairs, gently try to explain to AARP that SB 1374 never received “release” from Luke, chair of the House Finance Committee, and Donovan Dela Cruz, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee — the money committees….

read … This Is What It Sounds Like When Bills Die

Neighborhood Watch Volunteers Sought

HTH: … Wanted: People committed to making their neighborhoods and communities safer and better places to live.

Hawaii Police Department’s Community Policing Division and Hawaii Island’s Neighborhood Watch organization are seeking volunteers.

“Our basic premise is helping the Hawaii Police Department address the crime issue, 24/7,” Bobbye St. Ambrogio, the island’s Neighborhood Watch coordinator, recently told the Tribune-Herald.

St. Ambrogio knows about addressing crime. She’s a retired chief from the sheriff’s department in Bergen County, N.J. — the most populous county in the U.S., directly across the Hudson River from New York City….

For more information, call St. Ambrogio at 964-2266, Derr at 961-2350, or visit the Hawaii Police Department’s website at https://www.hawaiipolice.com/community/neighborhood-watch. …

read … Volunteers sought to make their communities safer

Alleged Molesters Locked up Awaiting Latest Trial

SA: … Federal prosecutors argued Cowley and Both-Magnisi pose risks of danger to the community, particularly to children, that cannot be addressed with bail and electronic monitoring.

The FBI arrested Cowley on March 23 when he showed up to meet who he thought was the mother of girls ages 6, 9 and 13.

Both-Magnisi was arrested March 24 when he arrived to meet who he thought was a 13-year-old boy.

Federal prosecutors say Cowley told the undercover law enforcement officer posing as the mother of three girls that he had previously had sex with an 11-year-old relative and had had sexual contact with children even younger.

Both-Magnisi is a registered sex offender. He was convicted of molesting a 10-year-old boy in 2002. Federal prosecutors said that since his conviction, Both-Magnisi has been a manager at a Windward Mall store that caters to teens and young adults….

read … Pair arrested in sex sting denied bail

Controversial Chinatown liquor store's license renewal up for review

KITV: … For months, Chinatown residents and businesses have complained of homelessness and crime. They say Maunakea Liquor and Grocery fuels the problem. Critics say the store sells alcohol 24 hours a day, and that some of those customers simply go out on the sidewalk and yell, or harass, pedestrians.

Now, the Honolulu Liquor Commission is looking into it. It served Maunakea Liquor and Grocery with an Order to Show Cause as to why its liquor license should be renewed.

The commission says this is "in response to the growing number of community complaints of violence and the unlawful sale of liquor taking place at, or immediately in front of the licensed premises." The license only allows the store to sell alcohol until 2 a.m.- not all day and all night, as accused.

Chinatown residents are hopeful the license will be revoked. Chu Lan Schubert-Kwock says, "The community feels like they do not help with the safety and public health issue in Chinatown. I think by not allowing them to renew, we lessen the problem that already exists." …

The hearing will be on May 16 at 4 p.m. at the Honolulu Liquor Commission on 711 Kapiolani Boulevard, Suite 600. In person or written testimony will be heard, and the public is welcome to attend and provide testimony….

read … Controversial Chinatown liquor store's license renewal up for review

New Federal Rules Block Driver’s Licenses For Micronesians In Hawaii

CB: … The new guidelines follow a December amendment to the federal law that was intended to ensure the COFA community could receive eight-year driver’s licenses. Their immigration status was missing from the 2005 REAL ID Act, blocking them from receiving normal driver’s licenses and forcing them to have to renew their licenses and state IDs annually. Some members of Congress said they wanted to fix the technicality that was making it hard for people to work and obtain housing.

But the Department of Homeland Security‘s interpretation of those rules have had the opposite effect — instead of getting one-year licenses and state IDs that are compliant with the REAL ID Act, now most citizens of COFA nations are not eligible for any state ID. The only driver’s license they can get are annual cards that can’t be used to travel or enter federal buildings.

The new rules sparked confusion and frustration last week as Hawaii residents seeking to renew their licenses or obtain state IDs got turned away….

read … New Federal Rules Block Driver’s Licenses For Micronesians In Hawaii

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