College Town? Honolulu Ranks 185th
Star-Adv: Isle issues could use Obama's pull (no mention of Akaka Tribe)
SA: The Star-Adv editors list many things they would like Obama to help Hawaii with, but the Akaka Tribe is not among them. Topics include: Lava flow, Obama Library, defense cuts, Chinese tourism, rail funding....
Not Listed: DoI Hearing: 'A lot of noes' on Akaka Tribe
read ... No mention of Akaka Tribe
Esther Kia'aina: Akaka Tribe? 'Not much I can say'
SA: Kia‘aina, 51, had just been nominated to her current job and was dispatched to the islands this summer to represent Interior in its proposal to consider an administrative route to federal recognition. The pushback from opponents here was fierce, and Kia‘aina took her share of the flak.
There's not much she can say about the status of the proposal, but she emphasized her own familial ties to the issue. Kia‘aina's great-great-granduncle was the secretary to Queen Liliuokalani at the time of annexation and was thrown into prison by the Republic of Hawaii after delivering the protest documents to President William McKinley.
But now the focus of her work is on the needs of other island communities. Besides the territories, Insular Affairs handles all the distribution of funds given to the Freely Associated States, including the Federated States of Micronesia, under the current Compact of Free Association....
Q: What update do you have about the reason for your last visit: the hearings on Native Hawaiian recognition?
A: I can’t. I’m part of the team, but there are other people working on it.
Q: So it is being worked on?
A: Oh, it is. There are 5,100 comments. …
Q: Those were emotional hearings. How did you come away from that?
A: It impacted me, of course. Not only personally. I spent the last 25 years of my life dedicated to laying the groundwork for this discussion.… I got challenged a lot....
Challenged: DoI Hearing: 'A lot of noes' on Akaka Tribe
read ... Decrease Dependency
Cancer Center Used as Latest Excuse for Tax Hikes
SA: The University of Hawaii Cancer Center is facing an uncertain future as revenue streams shrink and financial losses mount at the research facility. At the same time, federal requirements call for operations to expand.
The Cancer Center, a research unit of UH-Manoa, ended last year with a nearly $10 million deficit and is quickly draining its reserves to stay afloat. While some cancer researchers blame the controversial former director for allegedly mismanaging funds, UH officials say the center's money troubles stem from an outdated business model....
The center pursued building a state-of-the-art facility — initially expected to cost $119 million — based on a 2010 business plan that assumed UH's share of the state's cigarette tax would remain steady at close to $20 million a year. But cigarette tax revenues have been declining while completion of the Kakaako facility has saddled the center with an $8 million annual mortgage payment that it can't afford.
Without help, the center — which has a mission of reducing the burden of cancer through research, education and outreach — will deplete its reserves within two years....
(Insert straw man argument about selling the Cancer Center, then ... drumroll please.....)
UH plans to seek a broader tobacco tax and other legislative funding this session.... (Clash cymbals)
Best Comment: "This is typical. Former directors Carbone and Hinshaw screwed up the financing and then bailed before the truth came out. And the UH will continue to hire these jokers...."
read ... Costs outweigh funding, revenue
Hilo students defend right to free speech
SA: In January, when the club, Young Americans for Liberty, participated in the university's annual involvement fair, a university official approached Burch while she was handing out copies of a pocketbook-sized Constitution. At the time the student handbook restricted solicitation.
"I told her this is different," Burch said. "We have a constitutional right to hand out these documents because it's freedom of speech and it's the First Amendment."
Vizzone, a fellow YAL member, said the other incident occurred during an orientation session following the fair.
"They were telling us stuff like we can and can't do this. A lady asked us what events we were planning. We said we were planning to protest the National Security Agency, and apparently it was somewhat controversial so we had to bring it in the so-called ‘free speech zone,'" he said.
Burch said that area covered less than 1 percent of the campus. She added that when she told the administrator about the protest, the official's response was, "People can't protest like that anymore. It isn't the '60s."
Eventually Vizzone and Burch filed the claim and were assisted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and a firm in Washington, D.C.
The students argued that their First Amendment rights of free speech were being violated; and a judge agreed.
The court case set a legal precedent for several universities across the nation contending with similar matters.
And as part of the settlement, the university now allows free speech and the distribution of literature anywhere that's open to students and the community without requiring students to seek permission first. Previously, any protest had to be approved beforehand by the university.
Their victory in court has Hawaii resident Richard Morse describing the two as the "champions of freedom."
Background: UH Hilo Settles Lawsuit Over Handing Out Constitutions
read ... Hilo students defend right to free speech
5,141 leave Hawaii in 2014
SA: ...More Hawaii residents moved to the mainland than came the other way, but the state still added more than 10,500 people in the past year ending July 1, according to a census report.
Births and foreign migrants largely accounted for Hawaii's population boost from 1,408,987 in 2013 to 1,419,561 in 2014, according to Census Bureau estimates released this week.
The state's 0.8 percent annual growth rate — averaging about 29 new residents per day — scored higher than the 0.7 national growth figure and ranked 20th in the nation....
Domestic migration numbers revealed a net loss of 5,141 residents in 2014, punctuating a trend since the last U.S. census in 2010 that has now seen an excess of 11,000 more people moving from Hawaii to the mainland than arriving from the rest of the country.
And this comes despite Department of Defense census figures showing an increase of about 10,000 active-duty military personnel in Hawaii since 2010, although there was a slight decline last year.
read ... Mainland Influx Slows
Ige: Affordable housing, state office bldg. could be built along rail
HNN: "We really haven't done a good job as the state of looking at all of those lands and really talking about what alternatives, what opportunities we have," Ige said.
Ige said the state needs to develop thousands more affordable rental units on its land near the rail. One proposal: to knock down the Hawaii Housing Authority's administrative offices along School Street in Kalihi and build as many as 1,000 affordable rental apartments there.
"We need to look at the whole transit route and look at all the state lands and then think about what would be the best use," Ige said.
The state spends millions of dollars a year renting private office space for state offices all over Honolulu. For instance, it leases 60,000 square feet of one Kalihi building on Waiakamilo Street for various Department of Human Services offices now.
"We still end up leasing 250,000 square feet of commercial space. We've talked a lot about whether there should be another state office building," Ige said.
The state has long-range plans to build a new state office building and move hundreds of workers to the old OR&L train station on the ocean side of Aala Park in what would be called the Liliha Civic Center.
read ... TOD
Honolulu’s Affordable Housing Rules Only Produced 68 Units in FY 2014
CB: Honolulu’s current affordable housing rules only produced 68 units in fiscal year 2014. (And 746 affordable units not required by rules.)
In total, the city estimates that just over 2,000 such units were constructed during the fiscal years from 2011 to 2014. (Only 608 of these were required by rules.)
Is that a sign that the rules aren’t being applied broadly enough? Mayor Kirk Caldwell seems to think so.
His proposed housing strategy would require every developer of 10 or more units to set aside a certain percentage of units for low- or moderate-income residents, or pay an undetermined fee.
But opponents of inclusionary zoning say that requiring developers to build a certain percentage of affordable homes is ineffective and discourages developers from building at all. A study by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization in 2010 concluded that Oahu’s policy was reducing the number of affordable units.
UHERO: Inclusionary Zoning Study
read ... Affordable?
One Stop Center Needed to Deal with Homelessness Among Micronesian Migrants
SA: ...A one-stop center to give social services and the correct information to the migrants would help all of Hawaii, she said. Some of those who join homeless encampments, she said, wrongly believe this will help them get public housing. They could learn the facts through a collaborative federal-state-county center, she added.
"I believe that by showing a serious commitment that we care, devoting the resources and providing the tools necessary for them to become more independent and self sufficient will go a long way," Kia‘aina said. "No longer can people be using not knowing the law as an excuse for camping out in Kakaako."....
read ... One Stop
'Beach Replenishment' is Latest Excuse for Tax Hike
KHON: Half of the $1.3 million budget to do the first part of renovation would come from the state legislature. The other half would come from a special assessment to commercial landowners....
Over 6,500 properties would be assessed. Bill 82 has already passed its first reading and goes to committee next month.
Click here to view the plan in its entirety (.pdf).
KITV: Erosion creates dangerous situation on Waikiki Beach
read ... One Note Caldwell
TVR Report Designed to Make Case for Tax Hikes
KGI: ...“TVRs have clearly become a popular accommodation choice with beautiful homes located in resort neighborhoods,” Kauai County Economic Development Director George Costa said. “It is very difficult to monitor from a tax perspective because many are independently owned and marketed. Our challenge is to ensure that alternative accommodations are properly permitted and properly classified for real property tax purposes.” ...
“It will provide the counties with information to help them better understand this segment when making policy decisions in the future,” Williams said....
The trend could affect the state’s pocketbook.
Hotels charge visitor fees that contribute to the general excise tax or transient accommodations tax. The state and counties could well be losing out on potential revenues from non-traditional housing that would otherwise come from hotels, condo associations and timeshares.
“Our lodging people are not looking to put anyone out of business but what we’re asking for is to put everyone on a level playing field,” Szigeti said. “Everyone should pay their fair share of the fees that come with accommodations.”
“We are changing the model all the time and this study is a great road map to look at,” he added. “There are a lot of challenges and people are trying to get their arms around this and do the right thing raise their taxes.”
Background: HTA Study: Vacation Rental Units are 25% of Total Lodging
read ... Tax Hike Coming
Committee wraps up study for Age-Friendly City Initiative
KHON: Some solutions are simple. “We have relatively few street trees,” said Dinell. “They are in some areas, but not others. Temperatures in Honolulu will rise 10-15 degrees in the next 10-15 years." (Quick IQ Test: T or F?)
“We are facing a real increase in the aging population. Currently we’re at about 14 percent over the age of 65. In 2040, we will be at 25 percent,” he said.
Honolulu already has the nation’s highest percentage of residents age 85 and older (11,781 or 3.5 percent of Oahu’s population).
The group is finishing its preliminary study and will present its findings on Feb. 6, 2015 at a senior summit. The public is invited to attend, details to come.
The final action plan will be submitted to the World Health Organization by next summer for approval. Honolulu will then have three years to make the changes.
For more information, click here.
read ... Age-Friendly
Nobody Uses Bike Lane so Drivers Park There
PBN: PBN spotted two vehicles parked in the lane this week.
Jesse Broder Van Dyke, a spokesman for Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who championed the lane, said that there is a $200 fine for parking in the bike lane.
read ... Nobody uses Bike Lane
Obama to troops: Afghanistan ‘not going to be a source of terrorist attacks again’
WaPo: President Obama said the United States is safer after 13 years of war in Afghanistan and he added that the Asian nation will no longer be the source of terrorist attacks, as American forces continue to withdraw to a far smaller force.
“Next week, we will be ending our combat mission in Afghanistan,” Obama said, as he and first lady Michelle Obama thanked U.S. troops at a Marine Corps base here during their traditional visit for Christmas dinner. A Marine shouted “Hurrah!” and others cheered when the president mentioned the end of combat.
“Because of the extraordinary service of the men and women in the armed forces, Afghanistan has a chance to rebuild its own country,” Obama said. "We are safer. It’s not going to be a source of terrorist attacks again."
NYT: Obama Addresses Afghan War’s End on Christmas Visit
read ... Safer