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Friday, June 2, 2023
June 2, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:14 PM :: 1607 Views

Hawaii Job Satisfaction 3rd Lowest in USA 

Hawaii Highest Electric Rates in USA

Neighborhood Board Election Results Posted

DBEDT: Economic Recovery Continues in Hawaii

Grassroot Institute urges special session to block huge unemployment tax increase

Drone Bills in Hawaii Legislature

HB1363: GE Tax Hike Funnels Millions to Developers

CB: … For more than a decade Honolulu was the only county with its own surcharge tacked onto the state’s 4% general excise tax. The county’s 0.5% tax on retail purchases was established in 2007 to help pay for Oahu’s elevated rail line, which could start passenger service as soon as July 1.

Kauai and Hawaii counties seized the opportunity in 2019 to add a surcharge to fund their own public transportation systems — road and bridge maintenance and repair, bus systems, bike paths and sidewalks.

But Maui County opted out. And the window the Legislature gave the counties to add a surcharge on the state’s alternative to sales tax closed.

That could change if Gov. Josh Green signs a bill that lawmakers passed this session to not only reopen that window but expand the ways in which that revenue can be used.

If House Bill 1363 becomes law, Maui will have another chance to cash in on the state’s tax on virtually every retail transaction, from shave ice and haircuts to lawn service and new cars. And all the neighbor island counties would stand to gain a new use for this multimillion-dollar source of revenue: the costly infrastructure required to get new housing developments off the ground.

Specifically, the bill would let Hawaii, Maui and Kauai counties spend the half-percent GE surcharge revenues on housing infrastructure — water, drainage, sewer, waste disposal and waste treatment systems. 

The idea is that counties (taxpayers, who are moving to Vegas, anyway) would be able to take control of (pay for) planning and funding infrastructure for new housing developments. Housing developers, in turn, would (laugh so hard they wet themselves because they) no longer need to finance costs associated with installing infrastructure upfront, and (but) homebuyers or renters would no longer see those costs passed on to them (continue to pay what the market will bear) ….

(CLUE: Supply and demand)

Green has until July 11 to approve or veto the bill.….

CB: Hoopili Residents Sue vs Overhead Power Lines 

read ... Maui Is Set To Join Other Counties In Raising Taxes To Pay For Roads And Housing

DHHL $600M Bonanza: Ev Dowling Big Winner

SA: … Watson, who led DHHL from 1995 to 1998 and got the job again in February via an appointment by Gov. Josh Green that was confirmed by the Senate in March, told the House panel that he expects to exhaust the $600 million by the deadline and still have funding needs for more homestead projects.

“We’re going to need the entire $600 million,” he said. “We’re probably going to need more money. … It’s an exciting time for our program.”…

DHHL presented a list that included eight projects that collectively cost $192 million and are at a stage where money is encumbered for spending under a contract or could be encumbered by the end of June.

Nearly half of the $192 million is for one project where DHHL has arranged to buy land in Waiehu on Maui for $12 million and spend another $83 million to develop 366 homestead lots.

(DO THE MATH: $12M +$83M = $95M / 366 = $360K per lot)

This $95 million project is one of four stemming from a request for proposals DHHL issued in November seeking to buy land or residential projects from private landowners or developers.

The Waiehu project involves an accepted proposal from a company affiliated with Maui developer Everett Dowling. A draft development agreement is being reviewed. Stewart Matsunaga, DHHL’s acting land division administrator, said the agency potentially could encumber the $95 million by June 30. If not, it is expected to fall into the next fiscal year and still would represent nearly one-sixth of the Legislature’s total appropriation.

Another Dowling company proposal to sell DHHL land on Maui and develop a subdivision represents the second-biggest use of funding this fiscal year under DHHL’s plan.

This project in Wailuku has costs of $5 million for land acquisition and $38 million for development expected to be encumbered by June 30 and would produce 207 lots.

(DO THE MATH: $5M +$38M = $43M / 207 = $208K per lot)

Watson told the House panel that deals to acquire land without needed costly infrastructure extensions can accelerate production of homesteads because much of DHHL’s own land isn’t close to roads and other utilities, which adds a lot of time and expense to homestead production….

DHHL published another request for proposed land or residential project acquisitions Monday.

The biggest DHHL project with money already encumbered for spending is a 161-lot subdivision called Pu‘unani in Wailuku where a groundbreaking ceremony was held last week.

This project has been in the works on DHHL land since 2018 and involves Dowling developing 161 lots and building 137 homes for beneficiaries. DHHL awarded a $17 million contract to develop the lots. Another $5.5 million is encumbered for a water tank serving Pu‘unani. Beneficiaries selected for homestead leases are responsible for financing their homes.

Another project with money encumbered by DHHL involves 82 lots in Hanapepe on Kauai where an $18 million construction contract has been awarded to Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co.

A couple of deals under which DHHL has already spent some of the $600 million include paying $8 million to another state agency for land on Oahu and paying Avalon Development $2 million for land on Hawaii island that DHHL intends to develop after a higher-priority project in the area….

read … DHHL buying land to speed up new homesteads in Hawaii

Ala Wai Boondoggle: Plan to be Revealed in July

SA: … The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and City and County of Honolulu are moving closer to a plan to protect against flooding in the watersheds flowing into the Ala Wai Canal, with specifics of the “Tentatively Selected Plan” to be revealed in July.

To continue allowing for community questions and suggestions, the second of three online talk-story sessions on the Ala Wai Flood Risk Management General Reevaluation Study takes place on Monday, noon- 1 p.m. To join, go to at the meeting time, entering access code 1992 62 9020 #.

For more information, go to

read … Next Boondoggle

Big Coal Very Excited About Hawaii’s ‘Green Hydrogen’ Scheme

HNN: …AES Corp. — now (formerly) the largest solar (coal) producer in the state — has expressed interest in building a green hydrogen production center here.

“That will be an important a fuel for the renewable transition worldwide. Hawaii is not an exception,” Bernerd Da Santo, president of AES Global Renewables, said during a news conference last month.

… Green hydrogen is created by using energy produced by the sun, wind or geothermal (or murdered trees or biofuel) to separate hydrogen from water (allegedly) without producing greenhouse gases.

(Other forms of hydrogen used in manufacturing such as brown, grey or blue hydrogen use fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas to produce hydrogen.)

Because it can be stored in canisters and tanks, green hydrogen is easy to transport from island to island.

By contrast, wind farms on Lanai and solar farms on the Big Island require an undersea cable to export their energy off island.

(IQ Test: Do you believe hydrogen is seriously in competition with any electric transmission system?)

The last time the state looked at building an undersea cable about a decade ago, the price tag was about $1 billion.

(CLUE: Irrelevant statement.)

But some say the technology is still too expensive.

“Hydrogen is difficult. It has a high cost right now. That’s why it’s not used. It’s has storage complications, it needs low temperatures and high pressures,” said Henry Curtis, executive director of the Life of the land.

Curtis said the cost of a hydrogen fuel cell is more expensive than a battery on an electric vehicle….

read … A ‘game-changer’: State seeks federal grants to go all in on green hydrogen

With ERs on Oahu packed, ambulances are stacking up outside rather than responding to 911 calls

HNN: … there have been days recently when up to 10 ambulances have been parked outside ERs waiting to transfer patients.

“When we’re tied up at the hospital or the ambulance is tied up at the hospital, there are no ambulances for the community,” said EMS paramedic Adam Ogden.

The good news: There are ER expansion plans in the worlds.

The Queen’s Medical Center is launching a major expansion project that will more than double the number of bed spaces in the ER at the Punchbowl location, bumping it up from 40 to 90.

“Queen’s cares for about half of patients in Oahu, who come by ambulance at our two facilities,” said Dr. Rick Bruno, president of the Queen’s Medical Center….

“We’re the Level 1 trauma center. We’re the only comprehensive stroke center. We’re the only transplant center.”

The project is expected to take at least a year and a half.

Queen’s is also looking to expand its West Oahu location.

A renovation project at Straub Medical Center, meanwhile, will nearly triple the size of its current facility and includes expanding the emergency department.

Until the expansions can happen, though, the backup continues. That’s why EMS is working to transport patients with minor injuries or illnesses that don’t need the level of care of an emergency room to clinics instead…

read … With ERs on Oahu packed, ambulances are stacking up outside rather than responding to 911 calls

Current cesspool conversion program still not enough to wipe out waste problem

KITV: … the state requires cesspools to be converted to septic systems or closed by the year 2050.

The Department of Health started a new pilot program this spring to give homeowners $20,000 in grants to do that.

"We received over 200 applications in the first three days of opening of the grant program. The response is way better than the income tax credit program," said Sina Pruder, Dept. of Health Environmental Health Branch Manager.

From 2016-2020, there were only 200 homeowners who took advantage of the state's $10,000 tax credit to convert cesspools.

But even the latest interest and encouraging numbers are still a drop in the bucket, for the amount of conversions needed each year.

"You really need to upgrade 3,000 cesspools per year in order to get rid of all the cesspools by 2050. We are not at that pace," stated Pruder.

The current pilot program only had $5 million available to homeowners. If the state were to expand it so that 3,000 cesspools could be upgraded each year, it would cost Hawaii $61 million every year for the next 27 years - or a total of more than $1.6 Billion for cesspool conversions….

read … Current cesspool conversion program still not enough to wipe out waste problem

HPD’s New Vice Major Vows To Take Down Game Rooms

CB: … Waianae’s illegal gambling scene may soon become endangered if Honolulu Police Department Maj. Mike Lambert has his way.

“I’m very well versed in how to burn down game rooms,” Lambert, who started working narcotics and vice in March, told a gathering of Waianae residents Wednesday. “We’re going to start to see some change.”

Lambert’s incendiary of choice: Warning property owners that their tenants are up to no good.

“The strategy is to go after the property owner because you cannot have the game room without the room,” Lambert said.

Starting in 2014, he said, he helped cut down the number of game rooms from 80 to 32 across the island in 18 months.

After notifying the owner of illegal activity on the property, Lambert said, he gives the owner the choice to break the tenant’s lease. If not, the owner can lose use of the property for up to a year, he said.…

HNN: ‘Torn apart’: Family of slain teen among those calling for solutions to spike in gun violence

read … HPD’s New Vice Major Vows To Take Down Game Rooms

Legislative Agenda:



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