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Saturday, December 9, 2023
December 9, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:41 PM :: 865 Views

‘Not everyone wants to move to Hawaii’

Fixation on short-term rentals called distraction from 'true culprit'

How times have changed

Bums Invade Army Base, MPs Respond

$83M Short: CNHA Program to convert vacation rentals to fire evacuee housing leads to high costs, profiteering

HNN:  … a lot of money is being offered to entice short-term rental operators to give long term leases to the more than 3,000 displaced families.

There are two major initiatives to recruit the vacation rental owners — each offering up to $5,000 for one bedroom to $9,000 for three.

That’s so much money that the state Department of Human Services is warning landlords not to evict their current tenants to jump to the new program….

Trista Spear, Department of Human Services Deputy Director, said so far, they have only heard of a couple of cases.

“And we just want to be clear if that’s unacceptable, it should stop now, if it is happening. any reports of that nature will be referred to the Attorney General’s office who will follow up and those properties would be listed and flagged and would not be able to participate in this program,” she said.

As 2,500 families leave hotels over the next two months, the rush is on to tap into thousands of short-term rentals even though they won’t make the money they’re accustomed to, according to Matt Jachowski, Director of Data, Technology, & Innovation for the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA).

“If you were to give the owners roughly the same amount of money they get from tourists, it’s more than twice as expensive as what people can afford,” he said.

The CNHA is FEMAs partner in the initiative, looking for about 2000 units. At the rates they are offering the Jachowski estimates the cost of the program for one year is about $176 million, of which FEMA will pay about $92 million so far it’s unclear where the other $83 million will come from.

“That gap of $83 million for one year would have to be paid through a combination of private philanthropic contributions, state support and families contributing themselves,” Jackowski said.

Late Friday afternoon, Gov. Josh Green’s office said the state is willing to commit to one-third of the cost, its not clear whether that would require legislative approval.

The council has set up a website where both rental owners and fire evacuees can access the program, and also others to give and receive housing support….

SA: FEMA invites Maui property owners to Direct Lease informational event

read … Urgent need to convert vacation rentals to fire evacuee housing leads to high costs, profiteering (hawaiinewsnow.com)

With claims that elderly residents were abandoned, fire survivors prepare to file lawsuit

HNN: … Four months after a devastating wildfire destroyed Lahaina, survivors who lived in a low-income senior housing complex say seven of their neighbors died….

… A statement from Hale Mahaolu detailed a timeline of events.

It said between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m., staffers knocked on doors alerting tenants to be ready to evacuate.

Then between 11:30 a.m. and noon, the resident manager decided to leave anyway with his wife and encouraged four tenants to come with them. The company says the four declined to evacuate.

“We are outraged that Hale Mahaolu lied about it,” said Hill.

Residents say management had no evacuation plan.

“They didn’t even pull the outside fire alarm that would have warned people to get out. It’s a systemic failure,” said Hill.

Hale Mahaolu did not respond to requests for interviews, but its statement said that tenants come and go as they please, with no obligation to inform us of their whereabouts…

read … With claims that elderly residents were abandoned, fire survivors prepare to file lawsuit

Maui mayor’s enhanced security detail could be paid for using federal, wildfire fund

HNN: … Maui Mayor Richard Bissen was provided extra security in the weeks after the wildfire, but not from his own jurisdiction.

The Maui Police Department was never asked by the county. Instead, state investigators were flown in from Oahu to protect him.

The six-week detail started on August 23, as Bissen was taking heavy criticism for the county’s response to the August 8 wildfires.

The four investigators, two from the Attorney General’s Office and two from the Public Safety Department, were “stationed at the mayor’s office and also accompanied him to public events,” said a county spokesperson in a statement to HNN Investigates….

read … Maui mayor’s enhanced security detail could be paid for using federal, wildfire fund

Judge Refuses to Consider DNA evidence in 1978 Murder-Rape

SA: … The state is appealing a Hawaii County circuit judge’s dismissal of the June 2022 indictment against Steven Ray Simpson in the 1978 slaying of 26-year-old Valerie Ann Warshay, a California visitor, in Kalapana….

The judge … took issue with the DNA evidence presented to the grand jury that Simpson was the major contributor of the sperm from pubic combings taken from Warshay. Another man was a minor contributor….

Deputy Prosecutor Anna­liese Wolf on Nov. 20 filed with the Intermediate Court of Appeals the appeal of Judge Peter Kubota’s Oct. 24 order granting Simpson’s motion to dismiss the indictment.

“Judge Kubota did not make the right call,” Wolf, who heads the Hawaii County Prosecutor’s Office’s cold case unit, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser….

read … State appeals dismissal of indictment in 1978 murder case

New Maui water diversion permit approved

SA: … Tensions over a new East Maui water allocation permit ran high at a Board of Land and Natural Resources meeting Friday, resulting ultimately in the issuance of another temporary authorization for the continued diversion of millions of gallons of water.

The new permit applies just to 2024 and allows for 38.25 million gallons of water per day, averaged annually, to be diverted from East Maui streams. The approved permit to Alexander &Baldwin and East Maui Irrigation Co. includes 31.25 million gallons per day for agricultural use, 6 million gallons per day for Maui County and 1 million for Kula Agricultural Park.

The original proposal from the Department of Land and Natural Resources, which the seven- member Land Board oversees, included a total water allotment of 27.4 million gallons per day for use by both Maui County as well as A&B and EMI, and was calculated based on estimated needs from past data….

According to Grant Nakama, Mahi Pono’s senior vice president of operations, Mahi Pono’s acreage in DLNR’s initial recommendation from September was 9,079 acres, and by the end of the year, that number will have increased by 1,300 acres. He also said that the farm plans to cultivate an additional 4,400 acres by the end of 2024.

Following questions as to the plausibility of the increase, the Land Board ultimately decided that an estimated total of 12,500 acres would be used to calculate the final water allocation…

State Rep. Mahina Poepoe, whose district includes East Maui, supported the Sierra Club’s position as she testified on behalf of kalo farmers in the area. She said the recent return of water to the stream stoked a revival of kalo farming but that some farmers were forced to stop when the streams began to dry up….

(TRANSLATION: Kalo farms look good to tourists.)

read … New Maui water diversion permit approved

Lahaina Fire News:

Legislative Agenda:

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