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Tuesday, December 20, 2022
December 20, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:43 PM :: 1883 Views

Hawaii Among Nine States Running Long-Term Structural Deficits

Green Submits Budget, Releases Grants-in-Aid

Congressional Delegation Calls For Independent Investigation Into Toxic AFFF Leaks At Red Hill

Hawaii Joins Bipartisan group of 37 AGs urging stronger protections for airline customers

15-year permitting saga--Business Owners Sue Maui County After Racking up $1.2 Million In Fines

CB: … It was a warm morning in June 2011 when the building inspector arrived at Bill Kirton’s gelato parlor in Paia. The reason, Kirton would later find out, was a complaint made in 2007 — four years before he and his wife purchased what they thought was a turnkey business.

Kirton said he didn’t know that the previous owners had built and operated the parlor in a space they were renting without a “certificate of occupancy” — the stamp of approval needed to open. He had a month to resolve things or face a fine of $500, plus penalties up to $100 per day.

Kirton jumped to start the work needed to get everything legal. But after years of working back and forth with engineers and a number of different county departments to get the space up to code, he still couldn’t get permission to operate because the old building along Hana Highway didn’t have parking. The dispute centered on whether the gelato parlor is a “retail” business or, a “restaurant.” If the county deemed it a “restaurant,” it could’ve signed off because there was a grandfather clause that said a food establishment didn’t need parking there, according to court filings.

As the debacle continued over the years, the fines against Paia Gelato amassed to more than $1.2 million. Kirton decided to cut his losses. He moved to another space down the block, where he watched a shave ice chain move into his old location — also without the certificate of occupancy. But after mediation with the county, that business won the right to operate. Now, after years of discussions with numerous county officials, pushing it up the chain to two different mayors, filing claims with insurance adjusters and attempting to mediate themselves, the Kirtons are suing the local government, alleging it wasn’t equal in its enforcement when it argued Paia Gelato wasn’t a restaurant.….

The saga began under the administration of former Mayor Alan Arakawa, who told Civil Beat that the Kirtons are “very, very justified in what they’re doing.” After they spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to fix the previous owner’s mistakes and get the gelato parlor up to code, and were still forced to move because of the parking issue, the Arakawa administration forgave the vast majority of their fines.

The dispute continued under Mayor Michael Victorino; Kirton said that he and the administration were headed toward mediation — they even had a date scheduled in August — but it was unexpectedly canceled….

Earlier this year, an audit identified a number of problems in its zoning division, ranging from high staff turnover to permitting backlogs, to staffers’ distrust in the outgoing planning director, Michele McLean.

The department has also had its fair share of scandals, the most public of which unfolded over the “monster house” in Napili ….

read … Business Owners Sue Maui County After Racking up $1.2 Million In Fines

Green Administration Plan To Tackle Hawaii’s Housing Shortage--Give Carpenters Union what it wants and Raise Taxes

CB: …  When asked how Gov. Josh Green’s administration plans to measure the success of his flagship policy initiative to build more homes in Hawaii, the governor’s new housing chief, Nani Medeiros, responded with an hourlong tour of a diagram referred to as a mind map.

(Translation: They have no plan.)

The oversized poster-like graphic outlining Medeiros’ plan to deal with the state’s housing challenge shows not just the enormity of the challenge, but also the complexity of the approach Green’s administration plans to take to address what experts say is a need for as many as 50,000 new housing units statewide in the next few years.

(Translation: They will claim victory just before the next election season.)

Medeiros declined to make public her detailed map, which resembles a sprawling anemone, (LOL) because she said it’s merely a draft. A more general map identifies nearly a dozen priorities — from specifics like plans to redevelop Aloha Stadium and provide homes for Department of Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries, to general ideas like collaborating with the private sector and county governments….

(Translation: What the Carpenters Union wants.)

For example, she estimates there are 25,000 short-term vacation rentals operating illegally statewide. Converting even a fraction of those into housing for residents could bring thousands of additional homes onto the market, she said.

(Translation: TVRs are being shut down in droves.  The Green admin will count that towards its total of new housing and claim victory.)

Meanwhile, imposing, say, a $10,000 annual tax on some 35,000 vacant investment properties (so-called ‘Vancouver Tax’) in the state could generate $350 million annually.

REALITY: Debunked: Caldwell’s ‘Vancouver Tax’ Does Nothing to Ease Rental Crisis

REALITY: Bill 9: ‘Empty homes’ tax won’t fulfill intention

SA: New Hawaii housing director focuses on easing affordable-housing process or something

read … Here’s How The Green Administration Plans To Tackle Hawaii’s Housing Shortage

Hawaii Has A Lot of Pork In Last-Gasp Federal Budget Talks  

CB: … Congress is racing to pass a $1.7 trillion spending bill by the end of the year that includes hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks for Hawaii.

“Negotiations are ongoing and I’m confident — but not overconfident — that we’ll have a funding deal next week.” — U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz…

Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has openly criticized the plan and called for lawmakers to punt negotiations into the new year when the GOP retakes control of the House, thus giving his party more leverage to cut spending and reshape policy.

When talking to his own caucus, he reportedly said he was a “hell no” on any deal before then…. 

read … Pork 

Public input sought on plan for Hawaii’s public schools

SA: … The survey includes 10 questions seeking reactions to the draft, and four questions about the respondent’s background, and is estimated to take about 10 minutes to complete.

The deadline to take the survey is midnight Jan. 12. Go to 808ne.ws/BOEsurvey1222.

The survey asks the respondent to click on multiple choices ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree” in response to questions about the draft plan’s vision statement, mission statement, core values and three priority areas: “High quality learning for all,” “High-quality educator workforce in all schools” and “Effective and efficient operations at all levels.” The board reportedly is deciding whether the plan will cover the next five or six years.

The full draft can be viewed at 808ne.ws/BOEdraft121522….

read … Public input sought on plan for Hawaii’s public schools

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