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Sunday, June 6, 2021
June 6, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:01 PM :: 2552 Views

Enjoying Your Maui Resort Condo? Now Pay Up!

65 Years After Statehood—A Big land Grab for OHA?

SA: … Hawaii businesses operating on leased public lands, including ceded lands, face the prospect of having to walk away from their businesses when their leases expire.

House Bill 499 is intended to change that.

Passed recently by the state Legislature, HB 499 would allow the state Board of Land and Natural Resources to negotiate lease extensions of up to 40 years with tenants of public lands who have commercial, industrial, resort, mixed-use or government properties.

Opponents of the bill argue that the lease extension is too long, ignores potential benefits from changing real estate market conditions and keeps the land from Native Hawaiians who have ownership claims.

But the lease extensions aren’t automatic. Among other things, they require tenants to make major improvements amounting to at least 30% of the value of their existing facilities and pay an updated minimum annual rent based on the land’s fair market value as determined by an appraiser. A development plan and schedule must be approved before an extension can be negotiated.

As things stand, leases are capped at 65 years. An extension of up to 40 additional years would be a life saver for a business nearing the end of its lease and for the state, which needs the revenue. Our hope is that the governor will sign the bill.

It isn’t just businesses that need a lease extension. Essential public infrastructure including airports, harbors, industrial parks and military installations are also on the 1.4 million acres of public lands transferred to the state of Hawaii with statehood in 1959.

(Do the Math: 1959 + 65 = 2024 payday for OHA)

The lease extension requirements in HB 499 mirror a program started on Hawaii island in 2018. It allows lessees of public lands within the Kanoelehua Industrial Area to extend their leases — many of which were established after the 1960 tsunami and will expire soon — as long as they make improvements to their property….

HB499: Text, Status

read … Longer land leases enhance community

Legislators ignore lessons of rail on new Aloha Stadium

Shapiro: … The next sound we hear from the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District should be a screeching halt, until scheming lawmakers provide coherent answers on what exactly is being built, who’s running it, what’s the cost and how we’ll pay.

Legislators promised in 2019 the new stadium would be the opposite of Honolulu rail — transparent, on time and on budget.

Two years later the Halawa project, which combines the stadium with massive commercial development of surrounding property, is none of those.

The management structure and financing are ever-shifting, the original $350 million cost has already been recast as high as $423 million and it’s at least a year behind the promised opening by the start of the 2023 University of Hawaii football season, with every sign it’ll slip even further.

The Legislature at first assigned oversight of stadium construction and surrounding development to the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which has managed Kakaako’s controversial growth.

Then last year lawmakers abruptly tried to move oversight to the Stadium Authority, only to see enabling legislation fail because of botched language.

This year’s House Bill 1348, cobbled out of public view by House and Senate conferees at session’s end, gives the ill-qualified Stadium Authority control of both the new 35,000-seat stadium and the surrounding housing, hotel and retail development in a confusing mash-up that also involves HCDA and the Department of Accounting and General Services.

HB 1348 also drastically changes stadium financing, which originally had the state covering costs with $180 million in revenue bonds and $170 million in general obligation bonds.

The bill deletes the revenue bonds and leaves the state to find a private partner to front those funds in a scheme DAGS admits will cost taxpayers more in the long run than bonds.

DAGS is in secret negotiations with three potential stadium development teams, hoping to overcome the shifting criteria and agree on a public-private partnership next year….

HB1348: Text, Status

read … Legislators ignore lessons of rail on new Aloha Stadium

Hawaii employers eye vaccination mandates

SA: … The lack of full FDA approval of the COVID-19 vaccines has made businesses more hesitant.

“It’s a challenging issue because we’ve got a public health emergency and we’ve got a worldwide pandemic, and yet there is a lack of guidance in the courts when it comes to vaccines that are approved under emergency use authorization,” Raethel said.

The FDA says the currently available vaccines have been rigorously tested and have undergone extensive clinical trials. But the agency still needs to wait six months after the clinical trials to evaluate all of the data.

Some health care organizations have approved vaccine requirements anyway, such as Houston Methodist Hospital, though 117 unvaccinated staffers recently sued the hospital over the mandate. More than 450 college and university campuses also have issued vaccine mandates for a mix of employees and students, though some, including the University of Hawaii, have conditioned it on final FDA approval of the vaccine.

So far, UH’s vaccine mandate is only for students, though the university said last month it’s in discussions with employee unions about mandating it for staff.

Raethel said many health care organizations in Hawaii haven’t issued a mandate because they anticipate final FDA approval will come soon, making it easier just to wait.

“We believe that there will be number of organizations in Hawaii that will issue vaccine mandates as soon as the manufacturers receive full FDA authorization,” he said….

ABC: Full FDA approval could drive COVID-19 vaccinations, but experts advise against waiting

read … Hawaii employers eye vaccination mandates

Waikiki Homeless Target Tourists: Crime surge risks derailing tourism recovery

SA: … “The timing of it as we are starting to come back is not good. We don’t want to give people any reason to pause when thinking about coming to Hawaii,” said Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association. “These recent crimes detract from our reputation as a safe place to visit for a large city.”…

Peter Tarlow, president of Tourism and More and a renown tourism safety and security expert, said many destinations are struggling with increased crime as they reopen and tourism comes back.

“Across the country we are seeing a rise in violence,” Tarlow said. “Hawaii is no exception to that rule.”

He said changing traveler demographics have created challenges in places like Las Vegas, where “less well off people are coming from California and they are having a lot of fights in the Strip now.”…

The councilman said he began getting complaints this spring about homeless individuals trespassing and damaging property at the Kuhio Beach pavilions, city bus stops, the Ala Wai Canal promenade and bridge, various 7-Eleven locations, and in public and private parking lots. He also has gotten reports of homeless individuals aggressively accosting residents.

To be sure, Honolulu Police Department crime-mapping statistics show that major crimes within 1 mile of the Waikiki 96815 ZIP code increased nearly 27% from January, when there were 273 crimes, through May, when there were 346.

The steepest monthly uptick was from February to March, when crimes rose nearly 49%. March was the same month that Safe Travels Hawaii saw airport visitor screenings increase more than 81%…. 

read … Waikiki crime surge risks derailing tourism recovery

10% of Sex Offenders Homeless

TGI: … In another joint operation, marshals and police conducted a sexual-offender-compliance check consisting of 141 registered sex offenders.

They found that 126 individuals were in compliance, 14 are pending further verification (and considered to be houseless) and one was non-compliant. The non-compliant case will be referred to the county Office of the Prosecuting Attorney for further action….

read … 11 arrested in fugitive sweep

Police Shootings: Protesters Protest Against Lack of Protests

SA: … To some, Lindani Myeni’s death and the muted reaction from residents, is a reminder that Hawaii isn’t the racially harmonious paradise it’s held up to be.

The couple moved to Honolulu from predominately white Denver in January.

Hawaii, where white people are not the majority and many people identify as having multiple ethnicities, felt right: “We were refreshed to be back to somewhere that is so diverse.” ….

(And this is why there are no protests.  We know we’re not racists so we don’t have to prove anything about ourselves by protesting.  This is why the whitest cities in the US--Portland and Seattle--are also the most protest-ridden.  They’ve been guilt-baited to prove themselves.)

Myeni’s death “would have generated mass protests in any other American city,” said (a profoundly disopportunized) Kenneth Lawson, a Black professor (a disbarred former lawyer for crack gangs in Cincinnati) at University of Hawaii’s law school….

(Really Obvious Question: Can a crack dealer believe that ‘black lives matter’?) 

CB: Honolulu Joins A National Debate: When Should Police Bodycam Footage Be Released?

read … Lack of mass protests after police kill Black man in Honolulu angers some

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