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Tuesday, March 22, 2022
March 22, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:08 PM :: 2126 Views

Hawaii Steepest Housing Cost Increases in USA

Agribusiness Development Corporation--Auditor Finds 'Material Weakness'

Maui Musical Chairs: Rumor of Roz Baker Retirement 

Economic Freedom: Ige Ranks 43rd

The Navy Water Crisis Could Halt New Construction On Oahu

CB: … The U.S. Navy’s contamination of Honolulu’s primary drinking water source could trigger major impacts to the island’s economy and quality of life, including a potential moratorium on new construction, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply told Hawaii senators in a briefing on Monday.

(Hint: ‘Aloha Stadium’)

The entire island is already being advised to reduce its usage by 10%, but that voluntary restriction is likely just the beginning of the impacts of the crisis on the civilian population.

Developers have started receiving letters from the BWS stating that the water utility can’t promise water will be available for new buildings. BWS may also implement mandatory water limits for residential and commercial users as well as major rate hikes for customers who don’t reduce their usage, officials said on Monday. BWS could restrict flow or shut water off entirely for those who don’t comply.  …

The construction industry is “deeply concerned,” said Nathaniel Kinney, the political and education director for the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters. 

“Construction has been propping up a significant portion of the middle class,” Kinney said.If you were to stop construction right now, that would be catastrophic.”

Developers are planning to meet with Lau next week to discuss what can be done, Kinney said.

Short of a moratorium, there are things developers can do to reduce their water usage on construction sites, including recycling water and rain catchment, Lau said.

Sen. Bennette Misalucha asked Lau about the timeline to bring a new well online. Lau said he is seeking an emergency proclamation from the governor that would help expedite the process. However, generally speaking, he said there isn’t much flexibility.

“I wish a new well could happen in a year, that we could just drill it today and a year from now, have that well in service,” Lau said.

“But I would be deceiving people if I said that because that is not the case based on our experience over decades of drilling and developing new wells.” 

R: A Fuel Leak From a Navy Facility Could Shut Down All New Development on Hawaii's Most Populous Island

Jan, 2022: Red Hill: BWS Smokes out Congress?

read … The Navy Water Crisis Could Halt New Construction On Oahu

New rail route is just ‘first phase,’ Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi says

SA: … A new “recovery plan” to finish — and finance — the project is due to the FTA by June 30. If approved by the HART board, the City Council and the FTA, $250 million in federal funds would be delivered in each of two years, followed by the remaining $244 million in federal funds, reducing the city’s financing costs, Blan­giardi said. ….

The new plan is projected to be paid for by rail’s share of the state general excise tax and its share of a new city transient accommodations tax on hotel rooms that was approved in December….

read … New rail route is just ‘first phase,’ Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi says

SB3334: HCDA to Control Aloha Stadium project

SA: … The Senate voted earlier this month to send the House a bill that would reassign a leading role among state agencies involved in two complex envisioned public- private partnerships aiming to produce a new roughly $400 million stadium surrounded by housing, retail, restaurants, a hotel, offices and other uses on the 98-acre stadium property.

Senate Bill 3334, as unanimously approved by senators, aims to give the Hawaii Community Development Authority, a state agency primarily regulating development in Kakaako and Kalaeloa, sole jurisdiction over stadium lands.….

Currently, this power is assigned to the Stadium Authority, an agency that manages the largely condemned 47-year-old Aloha Stadium and is working with the Department of Accounting and General Services to solicit and select private developers to turn the rusting 50,000-seat facility, along with its vast parking lot, into a new mixed-use community anchored by a new roughly 35,000-seat stadium.

The bill also would remove the Stadium Authority from its administrative attachment to DAGS and instead attach the authority to the same agency to which HCDA is attached: the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism….

SB3334: Text, Status

read … Hawaii lawmakers considering regulatory shake-up of Aloha Stadium project

SB555: So-Called ‘Ban’ on Fundraisers during Session has Gigantic Loophole

SA: … SB 555, “to prohibit fundraisers by legislators during legislative sessions,” should be toughened up even more. “Fundraiser” is defined as an event “to raise contributions for which the price or suggested contribution for attending the function is more than $25 per person.”

(Clue: Hold a fundraiser with a $25 ticket price and accept larger contributions from lobbyists.  Duh.)

Really? A complete ban on them is out of the question?

This is why voters need to keep the pressure on. Legislators can do better, and it helps to have as many eyes on them as possible, for as long as possible.….

SB555: Text, Status

read … Editorial: Politicians need strict ethics rules

Legislature advances bill giving counties more power to take private property

HTH: … A bill giving counties the power to take private property where civil fines have accrued and sell it to clear up the debt has passed the state House and its first Senate committee.

The measure, House Bill 1434, was requested by the City and County of Honolulu, but it will, if passed, apply to all counties. The county councils would first have to pass an ordinance or rules “defining ‘public nuisances’ with respect to each county’s respective circumstances,” the bill states….

Hawaii County already has the authority to take property it considers a public nuisance, such as the case in 2020 when it seized a downtown Hilo lot that had become the site of a homeless camp. For most of 2019, the county made increasingly serious demands to the property owners that the unpermitted structures — including makeshift dwellings, a chain-link fence and a concrete foundation — be removed, ultimately leading to the county seizing the lot when the owners refused to do so.

That foreclosure process, however, went through the court, while the measure contemplated by lawmakers would forgo that step. After all notices, orders, and appeal proceedings are exhausted, a county may satisfy all unpaid civil fines through the power of sale on the real property subject to a recorded lien.

read … Legislature advances bill giving counties more power to take private property

Hawaii Legislature Debates Creating a Department of Environmental Protection

IM: … Some states spread environmental issues across multiple state agencies. Other states choose to concentrate environmental issues in one agency. Hawai`i currently follows the first approach. HB 2256 proposes that Hawaii transition to the second approach.

The bill was proposed during the 2021 Legislative Session by Senator Acasio and Representative Wildberger but was not hear by any committee. 

This year the bill was written by Representatives Nicole Lowen, Aaron Johanson, and Lisa Marten….

The Senate Committee on Energy, Economic Development, and Tourism will hear the bill tomorrow….

The State Energy Office, the Consumer Advocate, the Public Utilities Commission, and the Hawai`i Natural Energy Institute all exist at the sub-department level.

The proposed bill would create a working group composed of a dozen appointees of the Governor to file a report with the Legislature in December 2024, to enable the 2025 Legislature to deal with the issue.

The bill would create a Department of Environmental Protection on July 1, 2026….

HB2256: Text, Status

read … Hawaii Legislature Debates Creating a Department of Environmental Protection

HART Offered CEO a Bonus so She Could make a Show of rejecting it

CB: … The executive director leading Honolulu’s struggling rail project now says that she will not accept a $25,000 bonus for her first year on the job, days before the board that oversees her was slated to vote on that award.

Lori Kahikina, head of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, informed agency board members of her intent in a letter Thursday and asked them to forgo any further consideration.

She and her team have made “significant progress” on rail, Kahikina stated.

She added, however: “I also recognize that there is still much more work to be done before we can turn this project into a success story.” …. 

SA: Honolulu rail CEO Lori Kahikina turns down $25k performance bonus

read … HART CEO Says She Won’t Accept Potential $25,000 Bonus

Bound for heavy debate, bill seeks to strip UH as sole manager of Mauna Kea

HNN: … Lawmakers will consider a bill that would strip UH as the sole manager of Mauna Kea. It’s poised to stir up a high stakes debate Tuesday.

The bill would create a Mauna A Wakea Stewardship Authority of 10 voting members. UH would have a seat at the table, but no longer be the sole manager.

UH worries the bill could lead to the end of astronomy and the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope project on Mauna Kea. It says the bill has legal, procedural and regulatory issues since UH has the subleases to the observatories on the mountain and permits with TMT.

“The bill is flawed and therefore represents an enormous risk to Mauna Kea astronomy,” said Doug Simons, director, UH Institute for Astronomy….

House bill 2024 will be heard Tuesday at 3 p.m. by the Senate Committee on Higher Education at 3 p.m….

HTH: Maunakea bill gets a reprieve: Senate committee to discuss the measure today

SA: Stewardship measure could imperil astronomy atop Mauna Kea, University of Hawaii says

Jan 27, 2022: Calling OHA’s Bluff:  HB2024 Would Strip Mountain of Telescopes, Hand it over to Hawaiian Activists

Feb 22, 2022: OHA Does not Back HB2024: Wants to Make Money from Telescopes

read … Bound for heavy debate, bill seeks to strip UH as sole manager of Mauna Kea

Mike Molina: Time for Jones Act to be suspended

MN: … The time is now for Maui County to add their voice to the call for exempting the Jones Act and I will be offering a resolution to the Maui County Council to support this effort…..

read … Time for Jones Act to be suspended

1,000 Criminals Walk Free-- Legislature Passes Bill To Clear Up ‘Chaotic Situation’ In State Courts

CB: … More than 1,000 misdemeanor and petty misdemeanor cases have been dismissed on Oahu and dozens more have either been dismissed or challenged on neighbor islands because of procedural issues with how prosecutors initiated those cases.

House Bill 1541 aims to fix shortcomings identified in a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling in December. It cleared the House earlier this session and was passed unanimously by the Senate on Monday. It now goes to Gov. David Ige for his consideration and, if becomes law, the Honolulu prosecutor’s office plans to refile many of the cases….

read … Legislature Passes Bill To Clear Up ‘Chaotic Situation’ In State Courts

Business Owners Face Special Challenges Posed By The Homeless Crisis

CB: … But like many businesses during the pandemic, Yong’s lost much of its income when it had to close during the pandemic restrictions, and it kept losing money even after reopening because some customers were scared away by the increase in homeless campers in Chinatown at night.

The restaurant had to reduce its service mostly to lunchtime visitors and takeout orders. It shut down at 6 p.m. each night.

The business prospects at Yong’s got even dimmer when a homeless man took up permanent residence in front of the restaurant in November and refused to move….

After Mei Lei signed the trespass order March 3, with a police officer present at the restaurant, Wong read the warning to the man whom he said reluctantly picked up his belongings and left.

But the trouble was, he kept coming back.

Just three hours after the trespass order was served, the man returned, setting up a chair and a shopping cart in front of the restaurant. HPD arrested him, but he was back out on the street the next day.

In an email to Wong and other Chinatown advocates on March 4, Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm explained that his office declined to prosecute…

read … Business Owners Face Special Challenges Posed By The Homeless Crisis

To slow ‘monster home’ construction, city revokes permit for Pacific Heights property

HNN: … The City and County of Honolulu has revoked the building permit for a Pacific Heights home as part of its crackdown on monster homes.

The city last year issued to permit to the owners of the home at 2761 Pacific Heights Road, but pulled it because the planned development apparently exceeded the square footage limits.

During his State of the City address last week, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said the permit was “wrongfully issued.”….

Owner Tony Shi said he plans to live in the house and not rent it out.

Shi said he plans to appeal the permit revocation because the city overestimated the size of his home….

read … To slow ‘monster home’ construction, city revokes permit for Pacific Heights property

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