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Thursday, January 23, 2020
January 23, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:12 PM :: 2343 Views

Twelve candidates to appear on Democratic Party of Hawaii Party-run Presidential Primary ballot

FAA Lowered Bar for Southwest Airlines Hawaii Approvals, Complaint Alleges

Hawaii Highest Union Membership in USA

Nobody in Hawaii really believes in sea level rise

Cost of Housing: For 50 Years Legislators Have Known that Regulation is to Blame

MT: … “The [Hawai‘i state] legislature pronounced that the problem of the critical shortage [of housing for low- and middle-income earners] was the high cost of housing. The causes of this high cost were said to be the ‘cost and availability of land, the cost of development, the cost and availability of financing, the cost added by government regulation, the cost and availability of labor and materials, the inflationary state of the economy that makes high cost housing more profitable to produce and more attractive to ‘risk’ capital.’”

While 50 years have passed since the state legislature made the above pronouncement, some things seem to never change. Half a century later, the Hawai‘i Housing Planning Study 2019 sings a familiar tune: Housing supply in the state continues to lag behind demand, “too expensive” is the number one reason interested residents can’t purchase a home, significant percentages of home sales go to out-of-state homebuyers who use property for investment purposes and vacation homes, construction of expensive homes outpaces that of the houses in the lower end of the market, and housing prices in the lowest priced segments rise faster than those in the costlier segments.

The explanations for these trends, too, have changed little. “It is widely accepted in 2018 that stringent regulation of housing production will result in high housing prices, decreasing elasticity of supply, and low supply, especially in high-priced, volatile markets,” states the HHPS, which was commissioned by the Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation.

“There are a lot of elements that affect housing affordability, but much of it can be attributed to regulatory requirements that increase the cost of producing homes, and the fact that wages have not kept pace with the increased cost of housing,” explained Realtors Association of Maui government affairs director Jason Economou last week, when asked how the prevalence of out-of-state homebuyers impacts the market for locals.

Councilmember Alice Lee similarly placed the blame on regulatory burdens, pointing to a 2006 county ordinance that required 50 percent affordable housing construction in new developments, and later stipulations mandating construction of homes for those earning less than 80 percent the area median income. Lee claimed that the regulations had the opposite effect intended, instead causing less housing construction overall and encouraging the build-out of high-end homes to balance project budgets…

(Skip the rest of the article it is the enviros making excuses for their obstructionism.)

DBEDT: 2019 Housing Planning Study

As Explained: How A&B Wins Big From Environmental Litigation

read … Is Regulation to Blame?

Report: 30% of Honolulu renters are looking to move out of State

PBN: … About 30% of renters in Honolulu are looking to live elsewhere, according to a new quarterly renter migration report by rental website and database Apartment List.

For the report, researchers analyzed data on millions of searches between June 1 and Dec. 31, 2019 to determine where users of the site are preparing to move. According to Apartment List's findings, 11% of Honolulu renters are looking at apartments in Las Vegas, 9.1% are looking into Seattle and 8.9% of renters are considering to move to Los Angeles….

To view the full report, click here….

read … Report: 30% of Honolulu renters are looking to move

Plenty Of Warning Signs But Few Treatment Options In Police Killer Case

CB:  … Sunday’s Diamond Head neighborhood blaze, stabbing of a woman and killing of two Honolulu police officers possibly could have been avoided — if Hawaii had a more robust mental health system.

But in truth, it has few options for handling someone like Jerry Hanel.

That’s according to Eddie Mersereau, deputy director of behavioral health at the Hawaii Department of Health….

But court records and an attorney retained by Hanel’s neighbors describe a longstanding pattern of the handyman’s bizarre and harassing behaviors.

And as long ago as 1997, his wife at the time alleged in divorce filings that Hanel had a severe drinking problem and that she was worried about her safety. The two had met in Massachusetts a decade earlier, where they lived in a house that burned down. The divorce record does not suggest that the house fire was the result of foul play, and an insurance company paid to have it rebuilt….

The Hanel case “is a really good example of somebody who fell in that gap where previously he had never, as far as we can tell, he had never risen to the level where he appeared to be imminently dangerous in his previous contacts with police,” Mersereau said. “But all the warning signs and all the risks were there.”

Hawaii’s mental health system is fractured and lacks a broad spectrum of treatment options, according to a recent legislative report by the DOH and psychiatric treatment providers. The DOH has proposed a sweeping series of psychiatric care reforms, including a new unified coordination system for mental health resources. This would include an around-the-clock call center to match people with immediately available mental health treatment services congruent to their specific need level.

“To me, the biggest tragedy here is that the police officers — both the two that were killed, as well as the ones that had intervened with him in the past — probably didn’t feel like they had a lot of resources to divert him to,” Mersereau said. “To some extent the resources are there, but they aren’t coordinated enough to have been of use in this case.

“Law enforcement is too often left to be social workers or mental health counselors in the field, and that just should not be their burden,” he added.

Access to limited state-sponsored mental health services is now available by calling the Crisis Line of Hawaii — On Oahu, call 808-832-3100; on neighbor islands, call 1-800-753-6879.

But there is no comprehensive system linking people in the throes of mental illness to a library of available treatment options across the public and private sectors….

read … Plenty Of Warning Signs But Few Treatment Options In Police Killer Case

Useless State had HPD wellness-check done on Diamond Head landlord after elder abuse allegation

HNN: … A friend of Cain, owner of the home at 3015 Hibiscus Drive, called the state DHS Adult Protective Services (APS) division on Dec. 30, alleging psychological abuse by Hanel, who had been living for about a decade in the home’s downstairs unit in exchange for property caretaking.

DHS tells Always Investigating: “Based on the information the caller provided, the landlord did not meet the standards required by law for being considered a vulnerable adult. Hawaii state law defines a vulnerable adult as a person who is 18 years or older with a mental, developmental or physical impairment who is also unable to: 1) communicate or make responsible decisions to manage his or her own care or resources; 2) carry out or arrange for essential activities of daily living; or 3) protect oneself from abuse.”

But despite the vulnerable-adult standard not being met, DHS made a referral to police, who followed up immediately.

“In the abundance of caution, APS contacted HPD to perform a wellness check on the landlord. That same day, HPD confirmed with APS that an officer conducted the wellness check,” DHS said. “After Dec. 30, 2019, there were no follow-up reports received by APS regarding the landlord.”…

Lawmakers also want to look at mental health red-flag bills.

A measure by Sen. Karl Rhoads (SB 2631) gives judges an option to refer a defendant to a mental health evaluation, including in restraining order cases….

SB2631: Text, Status

read … State had HPD wellness-check done on Diamond Head landlord after elder abuse allegation

Volunteers gather for point-in-time count to get better sense of Hawaii’s homeless population

HNN: … Homelessness is one of the biggest problems facing our state, but just how bad is it? Officials and volunteers are trying to find out through the annual point-in-time count.

The point-in-time is a count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night in January that helps to determine the funding and resources that are committed to combating homelessness in our community.

“We want to get a sense of the needs of our population and hopefully put the support we’re able to gather in place so we can offer them the services they feel they need to break the cycle of homelessness,” said Steve Kahanaoi, who’s been a point-in-time count volunteer for the last 10 years.

The annual nationwide homeless census is conducted for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development….

read … Volunteers gather for point-in-time count to get better sense of Hawaii’s homeless population

‘Sacred’ Money: OHA Tollbooth to Cash in on Mauna Kea Tourism?

SA Editorial: …New administrative rules on the management of commercial activity at Mauna Kea, adopted by the University of Hawaii Board of Regents and signed by Gov. David Ige, take effect today….

UH was right to finally put the rules on the books to guide stewardship over the coming years. The university is now a few months into a three-year capacity study exploring the important, finer details of Mauna Kea management.

The rules already lay out the permitting process, but the study should guide crucial policy decisions by the Office of Maunakea Management, such as: How many tour-operator permits should be issued, and how many tour vans should be admitted? What fee $$$$ structure should be in place for visitors?

There are more critical issues to settle, including a proposal by Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim to put management under a broader agency more representative of Native Hawaiians and other stakeholders. Discussion of that should be imminent….

read … Mauna Kea rules small but key step

$2.7M Fines -- Maui TVR Shut Down After 60 Years in Operation

MN: … Unpermitted Nalu Kai Lodge had $2.7M in fines, penalties…

Markham maintains he didn’t need a permit to operate the 12-room rental property at 115 Hana Highway because it had been used for short-term rentals since the 1960s and was “grandfathered in.”

“The proof is in black and white in the county’s own documents,” attorney Terry Revere, representing Markham and North Shore Maui, said Tuesday. “Nalu Kai Lodge has been operating in the business district of Paia for nearly 60 years without complaints, providing low-cost accommodations to both local visitors from Neighbor Islands and from all over the world.”

Referring to Markham’s donations to nonprofits, Revere said, “Many Maui charities and businesses have thrived due to the Lodge.

“Now the county has decided to put them out of business because the Lodge cannot afford to pay the county off to be left alone in peace,” he said. “This is another huge black eye for Maui’s anti-business reputation.”

He said Nalu Kai is reserving its right to appeal.

read … Judge’s ruling shuts down vacation rental in Paia

Hawaii County Council $1.45M Insider Cash Giveaway Paused for Now

HTH: … Bill 131 simply appropriates $1.45 million to the Mass Transit Agency for a hub-and-spoke bus depot; it doesn’t say where the depot would be built. But several council members, irked that the bill was never heard in a committee, weren’t satisfied that the administration wouldn’t proceed with the purchase of the site if they approved the money.

The council voted 7-1 to postpone the matter until Feb. 5, with Kohala Councilman Tim Richards voting no and Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung absent.

No council action is required to purchase land for the project, and members have no official say in site selection. But they can refuse to let go of the money.

Kona Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas said she previously asked if the bill was site-specific and was told it was. But Finance Director Deanna Sako said there’s no property mentioned in the bill, so it isn’t.

Villegas wasn’t convinced, noting the property owner was at the meeting, and the discussion centered around the property, not the appropriation.

“What it says on paper is not what it seems is actually occurring,” Villegas said. “It just seems that the wheel came before the horse.”

Consultants had recommended leasing Site 6 as an interim solution until the county could develop a more favorable property, such as Site 3, near the new police and fire stations. Two of the parcels are government-owned and wouldn’t require purchasing….

Background: Hawaii County Council Rushing a $1.45M Insider Cash Give-Away

read … Bus depot land buy paused

Kauai, not just Oahu, now being considered for $1.9B defense radar

SA: … The Missile Defense Agency confirmed today it is looking at the possibility of siting a $1.9 billion Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai instead of at one of several spots on Oahu that had been considered since 2018.

Native Hawaiian cultural challenges at a Kaena Point candidate site and topographical obstacles there and at two possible sites at Kahuku Training Area — all on Oahu — led the agency to remove Kahuku Training Area site 2 from consideration and add Kauai to the mix.

The revisions mean that construction isn’t expected to start until 2023, with the buildout expected to take three to five years — significantly delaying the radar that was originally planned to have initial operating capability for the increased defense of Hawaii from North Korean threats in 2023, according to officials….

TGI: PMRF eyed for missile defense system

read … Kauai, not just Oahu, now being considered for $1.9B defense radar

Eliminating Competition to Drive Prices Higher—Global Warmers Take Aim at The Gas Company

IM: … Today the Hawai`i Supreme Court holds oral arguments on Life of the Land and Hui Aloha Aina o Ka Lei Maile Ali`i appeal of the Public Utilities Commission`s decision in the Gas Company Rate Case. A key issue in greenhouse gas emissions. The date of the proceeding was scheduled months ago.

Simultaneously to the oral arguments, the Hawai`i House Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection will hold a hearing on HB1242 that would “require gas utility companies to establish renewable energy portfolio standards for gas.  Provides means for gas utility companies to achieve the renewable energy portfolio standards for gas.  Requires the public utilities commission to conduct a study of the renewable portfolio standards.” …

read … Hu Honua, Puna Geothermal & the Gas Company in the News

Tour Helicopter Crashes — And Flights — Have Escalated In Recent Years

CB: … the total number of tour helicopter crashes, both fatal and non-fatal, have escalated during the last two years. There were six crashes in 2018 and four crashes in 2019. Only one previous year — 2007 — had as many as four crashes during the last 20 years, according to National Transportation Safety Board records.

Meanwhile, Hawaii Department of Transportation records based on self-reporting by individual companies show that the number of tour operators in Hawaii has more than doubled in the last 10 years and flight volumes have increased by nearly 67% in the same period.

The recent spate of crashes, which are among 38 accidents and 45 fatalities since 2000, has brought new scrutiny to the helicopter tour industry. Weather-related, mechanical or faulty maintenance causes have been identified in nearly all of the crashes….

TGI Poll: Should the air tour industry be more regulated?

read … Tour Helicopter Crashes — And Flights — Have Escalated In Recent Years

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