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Anti-Vaxxer Candidate Kennedy to Rally for Ballot Access in Hawaii

‘Defects’ Have Already Been Found Along Honolulu Skyline’s Tracks

CB: … Several months after Honolulu’s Skyline rail transit system opened for service, problematic “defects” were discovered at key points along the track from early wear-and-tear, according to inspection reports and emails from a track safety official who later left the job.

That “spalling and flaking” — basically surface cracking and chipping — was found last fall at the track crossings near Skyline’s Kualaka‘i (East Kapolei) and Kalauao (Pearlridge) stations, part of the nearly 11-mile stretch that opened June 30.

A former consultant and track expert who worked on the project said it’s premature for such damage to appear.

More spalling and flaking was found in November on the straight track between the Halaulani (Leeward Community College) and Waiawa (Pearl Highlands) stations, according to Patrick Preusser, the city’s rapid transit director….

Crews have already repaired the track damage with grinding, and officials with Hitachi Rail are still trying to determine its root cause, Preusser said. The city anticipates that analysis to be done by April.

The damage’s emergence points to “long term” track issues that should be addressed to avoid potential maintenance and safety problems in the future, Yifeng Mao, the Department of Transportation Services’ former track compliance officer, told a DTS colleague via email last fall.

The “Long Term issue is still there,” Mao wrote to Safety Systems Manager Oscar Figueroa on Oct. 19, responding to Figueroa’s email asking whether the problem had been fixed. Mao said it “still is a serious concern that may adversely impact the service.” …

(CLUE: Too-narrow tolerances between track and wheel.)

Mao’s concerns come to light after several employees and consultants on the Skyline project in recent years expressed their own misgivings about the system’s unusual track crossing design and the narrow track tolerances that accompany it.  (BINGO!)

read … ‘Defects’ Have Already Been Found Along Honolulu Skyline’s Tracks

Connected Developers Cash in While Others Are Blocked

HB: … The biggest new housing project already underway along the Skyline route is Ho‘opili, on 1,550 acres in West O‘ahu makai of H-1 and Farrington Highway and just east of UH West O‘ahu. A total of 11,750 homes are planned – both single- and multi-family units…

Six miles east of Ho‘opili is Pouhala, a combined rail and bus station also known as the Waipahu Transit Center, which is next to 3.8 acres of land owned by Kamehameha Schools. KS is partnering with Highridge Costa, a mainland-based developer that specializes in affordable housing, to create a project there called Keawalau at Waipahu.

The overall plan is for 537 units of affordable housing, to be built in three phases along Kahuailani Street, Waipahu Depot Street and Hikimoe Street. An 18-story tower and a 19-story tower for families will be on the makai end of the property, and a seven-story building slightly mauka will serve kūpuna. The units will be rented to working residents with rents set to be affordable to households making 60% or less of the area median income, according to Highridge Costa….

UH West O‘ahu has multiple TOD-related projects planned and in feasibility stages. One project involves the development of about 180 acres of university district land. According to the state Office of Planning and Sustainable Development, the vision for this project is to create a “vibrant, sustainable mixed-use community that will be integrated and complement the UHWO campus.”

The university was also awarded $250,000 in state funding to study TOD near its campus. The grant lets the UHWO study the revenue generating potential for its non-campus lands in East Kapolei. There is approximately 200 acres of land located to the east and south of campus….

The state departments of Hawaiian Home Lands and Land and Natural Resources also plan to create more housing and mixed-use developments near the first two Skyline stations, Kualaka‘i and Keone‘ae.

And then there’s the Aloha Stadium Entertainment District project near the Hālawa Skyline station…

Streitz, the city’s acting TOD administrator, says multiple projects are planned for Chinatown, Downtown, Kaka‘ako and the Ala Moana area, and high-rise condominiums called The Park on Ke‘eaumoku and The Sky Ala Moana are under construction now….

Key Point:  Hawai‘i County leading state in tackling housing shortage

As Explained: Housing Emergency Designed to Fail > Hawaii Free Press

read … New Housing Is Rising Along the Rail Line - Hawaii Business Magazine

HART Lawyers Feast: $23.3M Legal Fees in $200M Dispute over 2 Acres in Kakaako

SA: … The years-long case, previously heard in Circuit Court, concerns the Texas-based developer, doing business here as Victoria Ward Ltd., and Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s 2018 condemnation of about 2 acres containing roughly 25 parcels owned by the developer — from Cooke to Kamakee streets….

The Hawaii State Supreme Court has ruled that the merits of the ongoing dispute involving construction of a planned rail station within real estate developer Howard Hughes Corp.’s 60-acre master-planned property in Kakaako should be decided by a jury rather than a judge.

The projected cost to taxpayers to acquire the land for the rail line’s Kakaako station near Ward Avenue has been reported to be as much as $200 million, with HART by 2021 having spent nearly $23.3 million in legal fees…. (and counting)

On Dec. 29 the high court’s ruling in HART v. Victoria Ward generally sided with the developer’s desire to see a jury rather than a judge decide the merits of this case….

Ultimately, the high court remanded the case to Circuit Court for a future jury trial (more lawyering)…

read … Jury should weigh rail dispute, state high court says

Maui short-term rental owners say they need answers on looming moratorium

HNN: … Governor Josh Green says he is prepared to implement a moratorium on all short-term rentals in West Maui to help find housing for fire survivors.

But short-term rental owners say they have been left in the dark.

“We have gotten no answers to our questions. We sent 25 questions to the governor, the mayor, and the council, and haven’t gotten any response,” said Eve Hogan.

Hogan owns vacation rentals in Makawao. There is also a free sanctuary on the property that’s open to the public every day …

read … Maui short-term rental owners say they need answers on looming moratorium

How to pay for make-work programs called ‘climate change mitigation’? Green proposes another tax hike

HNN: … Gov. Josh Green is proposing two options to raise money to fight climate change: Either raise the hotel room tax at least 1% or establish a $25 hotel check-in fee.

He said the tax hikes could generate at least $100 million a year to help tackle climate change, including efforts to prevent future wildfires….

Hawaii already has the highest hotel room tax in the country.

He said raising taxes on visitors could be short-sighted.

“I think both are very, very bad timing because all you’re doing is raising the cost of coming to Hawaii and you’re sending a message that we have challenges so we want to get more out of tourists,” said Vieira. “Have we offered the tourist anything more?”

Vieira said visitors are also still getting mixed messages following the Lahaina fires and don’t know if they’re welcomed to the islands….

read … How to pay for climate change mitigation? Green proposes visitor-focused tax hikes

HPD corporal’s 2016 DUI case faces new scrutiny amid questions about how recent crash was handled

HNN: … HNN Investigates has uncovered new information about a Honolulu police corporal who slammed his subsidized vehicle into the back of a motorcyclist, seriously injuring the rider. The case is getting scrutinized because of alleged mishandling.

While the department still refuses to say if it’s looking into claims Vasai Isala Jr. was driving under the influence that night, Hawaii News Now found court records that revealed why the 18-year veteran’s previous DUI charge was dropped following a crash in 2016.

Seven years ago, Isala was arrested and charged with driving under the influence after hitting a utility pole in Makakilo. A jury found the corporal not guilty after a relative visiting from American Samoa testified under oath that he was actually the person behind the wheel….

read … HPD corporal’s 2016 DUI case faces new scrutiny amid questions about how recent crash was handled

More Unionized Public Employees! Yippieeee --  Labor board says UH graduate assistants have right to collectively bargain

SA: … University of Hawaii graduate assistants are public employees with the constitutional right to collectively bargain, and should not be placed in 12 of the existing 15 bargaining units, the Hawaii Labor Relations Board ruled unanimously today.

“We are gratified that after half a century of ceaseless struggle, the time of graduate assistants’ treatment as second-class workers is over,” Dianne Deauna, chair of Academic Labor United, a union of graduate assistants, said in a press release from ALU’s lawyer Thursday.

The ruling reconsidered decisions by the labor board in 1972, which denied graduate assistants their right to collectively bargain. Since these decisions, multiple bills have been introduced to overrule the labor board. In 2015, House Bill 553 was vetoed by Governor David Ige….

ALU: (20+) We did it!!! The Hawai'i Labor Relations... - Academic Labor United | Facebook

read … Labor board says UH graduate assistants have right to collectively bargain

Lahaina Fire News:

Legislative Agenda:

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