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Tuesday, November 14, 2023
November 14, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:51 PM :: 1303 Views

Felon Watch: Is Nan buying Grace Pacific from A&B?

Hawaii is the fourth most impacted state by retail crime in America

Let Lahaina Rebuild

SA: … Let’s not get caught up in global warming discussions and pushing back the locations of homes and businesses from the shoreline in Lahaina when it was a fire that destroyed the town, not the ocean. Taking away the use of harborfront property would be government overreach. If Amsterdam and Venice can find solutions to keep existing businesses in or near seas in structurally sound buildings, so can Lahaina.

Lahaina generated conservatively $2.7 million in revenues a day with several thousand employees, according to the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. That’s close to a billion dollars a year.

Unless someone has a better billion-dollar-a-year idea, I think we ought to help rebuild the town to what it once was, with safety measures in place, and do it sensitively but quickly. Keep in mind that every day we delay, the Hawaii economy is bleeding $2.7 million a day, and that doesn’t include providing housing or paying unemployment to displaced employees.

The value of Lahaina Town also extends to it being a magnet for entrepreneurs and new businesses: the T.S. Restaurants chain’s first restaurant was Kimo’s in Lahaina; Longhi’s restaurant began here; Mark Ellman of Maui Tacos with 21 restaurants in 11 states had his start in this town; and so did Laren Gartner’s Cheeseburger In Paradise. Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood chose Lahaina as their first location in Hawaii, and so did Mick Fleetwood’s Fleetwood restaurant.

A number of painters have risen to prominence, including pop artist Davo, above-and-below ocean artist Robert Lyn Nelson, and metaphorical realist painter Vladimir Kush who started selling his paintings in Lahaina, then started his own gallery in the town, and now has galleries in California, Nevada and Florida….

Related: Right to Rebuild? No Building Permits Issued Since Lahaina Fire

Related: Do Lahaina Property Owners Have the Right to Rebuild?

read … Column: Rebuild Lahaina Town, soundly and as quickly as possible

Thousands of Maui property owners haven’t yet given government permission to clear debris

HNN: … About 900 Maui property owners who saw their homes destroyed in the catastrophic wildfires have given the government permission to remove debris.

But thousands more have yet to sign right-of-entry forms.

That’s according to Maui County Council vice Chair Yuki Lei Sugimura.

Altogether, about 3,500 homes were lost in Lahaina and Upcountry Maui….

“The difficulty for individuals to be able to do it on their own ... is that number one, you have to have a contractor that knows what they’re doing,” Sugimura said.

“Number two, you’re gonna have to follow the same rules of safety and security and health.”…

That means debris packing needs to be done under specific regulations used by the Army Corps of Engineers to prevent toxic ash and dust from going airborne….

“They’re at risk of having to pay for their own cleanup, which can cost $70,000,” said Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement president and CEO Kuhio Lewis (who is funded by the 8a corps that snagged the USACE no-bid contracts for clean-up) …..

read … Thousands of Maui property owners haven’t yet given government permission to clear debris

No Joke: Maui Ethics and Transparency committee cancels meeting to encourage participation at CNHA Confab

MN: … Council member Nohe Uʻu-Hodgins announced that the Government Relations, Ethics and Transparency Committee has canceled its meeting planned for today (Nov. 14) at 1:30 p.m. to allow council members to attend the 22nd Annual Native Hawaiian Convention.

Uʻu-Hodgins noted the convention will be held at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center from Tuesday through Friday, with many of the workshops and discussions to focus on Lahaina recovery efforts and other related matters. The convention agenda may be viewed at …

The committee planned to discuss Resolution 23-194, developing a comprehensive recovery and resiliency plan in response to the August wildfires, and is rescheduling the item for Nov. 28, she said.

The presentations and discussions on today’s convention agenda will provide valuable information to be included in our plan, Uʻu-Hodgins said….

(IQ Test: Are you screaming?)

read … Government Relations, Ethics and Transparency committee cancels meeting to encourage participation at Native Hawaiian Convention

Maui wildfires: Who will HECO Sue? 

SA: … The utility and its parent disclosed in a recent financial report that their fire-related expenses totaled $20.4 million through the end of September.

Those costs, which included $10.8 million in legal expenses, were a primary factor in the profit of Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. falling 34% to $41.6 million in the three months ended Sept. 30 from $62.6 million in the same quarter of 2022.

Seu also told analysts that as of Nov. 7 there have been 64 lawsuits filed against Hawaiian Electric by plaintiffs claiming losses related to the Aug. 8 disaster, including a fire in Upcountry Maui that destroyed 19 homes.

One of the 64 cases was filed by Maui County, and many cases also name other defendants that include Maui County, the state and private landowners.

“We will vigorously defend the litigation, and we intend to contest both causation and negligence,” Seu said.

Seu also indicated that the company will file counterclaims against other defendants, and noted that a current deadline to do that is Jan. 19.

read … Hawaiian Electric tallies early disaster costs from Maui wildfires

More than 800 enroll in program aimed at physician retention

HTH: … Hundreds of doctors statewide have applied for a state program to defray their student loans as part of a plan to alleviate Hawaii’s doctor shortage.

Gov. Josh Green on Wednesday said the Hawaii Healthcare Education Loan Repayment Program, or HELP, already has seen substantial interest since launching in September, with over 800 applications in the first month.

The program, — developed in partnership by the John A. Burns School of Medicine, the Healthcare Association of Hawaii and the state Department of Health — will disburse $30 million to licensed health care professionals in Hawaii.

Eligible applicants can receive loan repayments of up to $50,000 per year, but must commit to at least two years of full- or part-time service in Hawaii.

That commitment comes with sizable responsibilities, and breaking it will result in penalty payments of up to $5,500 per month of service not completed, with the minimum total penalty equaling either 150% of the contracted repayment amount or $31,000, whichever is less.

Eligible applicants also must work for a medical provider in which at least 30% of its patients are publicly insured.

Malia Hill, policy director for the nonprofit Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, said the student loan issue is a particular problem for the state’s medical industry because of how it impacts younger doctors.

“We have an aging workforce,” Hill said. “Statewide, 21% of doctors are 65 years old or over. But if you’re a young doctor and you’re coming here, where we already have all these other problems with high overhead, on top of all this student loan debt, then you might look elsewhere.”….

read … More than 800 enroll in program aimed at physician retention

Hawai‘i Could Fix Its Housing Crisis

HB: … Joe Kent, executive director of the Grassroot Institute: “Our research shows about 5% of the land in Hawai‘i has been zoned for housing and the other 95% is open space and ag. I’m not talking about building on all that 95%, but even if you built on a fraction of a fraction more, it would allow for more housing. And I think we need not be afraid of the word ‘density,’ because in my mind increased density means affordable.”

Alana Kobayashi Pakkala, executive VP and managing partner of Kobayashi Group: “Joe was wondering why people are so against urban density. What changes when the building goes from 350 feet to 450 feet? It gets a lot less expensive to build – the land cost gets divided over more units. And guess what? Dense properties won’t become luxury because of their density. So you’re building housing that will stay in that target market naturally. The market deserves market housing. Our young people deserve to do what our parents did: Build home equity. We just have to make it easier.”…

read … Hawai‘i Could Fix Its Housing Crisis - Hawaii Business Magazine

Texas Developer Seeks $50 Million From Maui County To Build Affordable Housing

CB: … Cheng got $18 million from the county last year to subsidize 60 affordable housing units, constituting phase one of the Pulelehua project.

Crews are currently finishing up grading, grubbing and retaining wall work at the project site, according to an update the County Council received on Oct. 6.

Now Cheng is asking the county to grant him $50 million more from a new general excise tax surcharge that takes effect in January. The money would help expedite the project and fund infrastructure expenses like water and sewer lines, placing new power lines underground and grading.

If the money is approved, Cheng would get $30 million in fiscal year 2024 and $20 million the following year. In exchange, Cheng has agreed to convert most of his market-rate homes to affordable units and to prioritize fire survivors who lost their homes, kupuna and longtime Maui residents. He has also agreed to speed up the construction timeline from a 10-year build-out to having the entire project finished in under five years, with first units available in approximately 20 months, according to the project description ….

read .. Texas Developer Seeks $50 Million From Maui County To Build Affordable Housing

‘Not Acceptable’: Why So Many Hawaii Schools Lack Fire Alarms

CB:  … Val Kalahiki isn’t sure her students know what a fire alarm sounds like. In November 2019, Konawaena Elementary’s fire alarm system broke, and it hasn’t been replaced, said Kalahiki, who runs the after-school program at the Hawaii island school. 

In the case of a fire, the main office can use the loudspeaker system to inform students and teachers, Kalahiki said. But after the main office closes at 4:30 p.m., Kalahiki said she has to remain extra vigilant as she oversees 130 students who remain on campus for the after-school program. 

“Where is the state putting all of our money if they can’t even protect our kids?” Kalahiki said.

Her school is one of over two dozen that lacks a working fire alarm, according to Department of Education estimates.  …. 

read … ‘Not Acceptable’: Why So Many Hawaii Schools Lack Fire Alarms

Employee fatally stabbed by discharged lunatic at state psychiatric facility

HNN: … Honolulu police are investigating after a 29-year-old man died following a stabbing in Kaneohe Monday evening, Honolulu EMS officials said.

EMS officials say the incident happened around 5:20 p.m. on Keaahala Road at the State Hospital in Kaneohe.

EMS assisted with the death pronouncement of a man who was stabbed multiple times, according to officials.

Multiple sources say the victim is an employee, but that has not been confirmed by HPD or the hospital….

AP: Tommy Kekoa Carvalho, 25, yet to be formally charged following murder arrest

DOH: “It appears that an individual who was discharged from the Hawaiʻi State Hospital in August and was transitioning to the community through the State Operated Specialized Residential Program caused the fatal injury.”

KITV: One man dead, another hospitalized in Kaneohe stabbing at Hawaii State Hospital | Crime & Courts |

read … Employee fatally stabbed at state psychiatric facility, sources confirm (

Pig Farmer beats Union Boss in appeals court--but Leased Piggery is Destroyed

SA: … A 56-year-old Waianae Coast pig farmer prevailed both in a state appeals court and district court over a landlord who took steps to evict him.

The court rulings pave the way for Matthew Reyes to return to the 1.75-acre portion of the 5-acre Maili property on Paakea Road and continue to farm.

Reyes had been operating a piggery for 22 years before landlord Peter Iriarte took steps to evict him from the property beginning in September 2021. Reyes’ large family depended on the piggery for their livelihood….

During the dispute with Iriarte, water lines to the farm were cut, resulting in the death of more than 100 of Reyes’ 450 pigs. Iriarte, head of the local plasterers and masons union, used a union lawyer to send letters to Reyes falsely claiming his lease was invalid. He then retained real estate and development lawyer Terrence Lee, who filed a complaint in small claims court to evict Reyes, alleging the lease was invalid. But the court had ruled earlier in the case that the lease was valid.

Nonetheless, at trial in December Judge Thomas Haia ordered Reyes to vacate the property, which he did.

Reyes was forced to move 66 pigs, including a few 400-pound sows and 650- pound breeding boars, in six days but retained attorney Keith Kiuchi, who took the case to the Intermediate Court of Appeals….

Iriarte tried to get the appeal dismissed, calling it moot, contending Reyes voluntarily vacated the property and that since Iriarte demolished the remaining pig pens, fixtures and improvements, including filling in the sump into which wastewater flows, the property is rendered useless to run the piggery….

But the appeals court did not agree….

read … Pig farmer prevails in appeals court

Lahaina Fire News:

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