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June 27, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:22 PM :: 916 Views

May 2024: Tourism Declines Again

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State Supreme Court: Is Gov't Imposed "Church Purposes" Deed Restriction Void?

Lahaina – Only 23 Building Permits Issued out of 2,200 Buildings Burned

KITV: … “Welcome to our neighborhood,” Ball said Wednesday as he greeted a van full of Hawaii reporters invited by Maui County officials to tour certain fire-ravaged sites.

The gravel covering lots on his street in Lahaina indicate which properties have been cleared of debris and toxic ash in the months since the Aug. 8, 2023, blaze. On the lots along Komo Mai Street, there are pockets of green poking up through still visible charred vegetation.

Speaking over the noise from heavy equipment working across the street, Ball described how he was able to get a building permit quickly, partly because his home was only about 5 years old and his contractor still had the plans.

Ball wants to rebuild the same house from those plans.

“We may change the color of the paint,” he said.

Nearby on Malanai Street, some walls were already up on Gene Milne’s property. His is the first to start construction because his previous home was not yet fully completed and had open permits.

When he evacuated, he was living in an accessory dwelling, known locally as an “ohana unit,” borrowing the Hawaiian word for family. The main home was about 70% done….

The county has approved 23 residential building permits so far and 70 are under review, officials said….

“We're not focused on the speed — we're focused on the safety," Bissen said….

(DO THE MATH: 23 permits / 2,200 buildings damaged in fire = 1%.  99% still have no permit to rebuild.)

VIDEO: Drone video shows how little construction is happening in wildfire burn zone - YouTube 

SA: Rebuilding begins in Lahaina wildfire impact zone | Honolulu Star-Advertiser 

CB: Rebuilding Is Finally Getting Started In Lahaina's Burn Zone - Honolulu Civil Beat

read … Maui officials highlight steps toward rebuilding as 1-year mark of deadly wildfire approaches

Hawaii Attorney General seeks Court Order Forcing MEMA Official to discuss 2018 ‘Hurricane Lane’ wildfire

SA: … The state Department of the Attorney General filed a motion Monday to force the director of the Maui Emergency Management Agency to answer questions about how he commanded the response to the 2018 West Maui fires fueled by Hurricane Lane.

As part of the ongoing investigation into the Aug. 8 fires that killed 102 people, devastated Lahaina and left thousands homeless, the state issued three subpoenas on May 29 to the current MEMA administrator, Amos Lonokailua-­Hewett; Darryl Takeda, MEMA’s community emergency response team manager; and Mahina Martin, Mayor Richard Bissen’s communications director on Aug. 8.

Martin and Takeda complied and sat for interviews June 7.

But the county maintained its silence about lessons learned from the August 2018 wildfire fueled by 70 mph gusts from Hurricane Lane, which burned 2,000 acres in Lahaina and destroyed 30 vehicles and 21 structures, most of them homes.

On June 6, the county filed a motion to quash the subpoena in the special proceeding initiated to adjudicate the numerous civil suits arising from the Maui wildfires, according to Monday’s application to compel obedience to investigatory subpoena.

Maui County’s filing of a motion to quash in the ongoing civil litigation is “an entirely different proceeding from the investigation” and “is procedurally improper and the Attorney General will be filing a motion to strike the County’s motion,” read the application, authored by Deputy Attorney General Ciara W.K. Kahahane.

Lonokailua-Hewett “has unique personal knowledge as the individual in command of MFD’s response to the Hurricane Lane fire.”… 

SA: It’s not the first incidence of stonewalling. And meanwhile, it appears former MEMA chief Herman Andaya also has yet to be questioned.

read … Hawaii Attorney General seeks interview on 2018 Lahaina wildfire

Two Minatoya List Condo Towers About to Fall into Sea Because State, County Will Not Allow Shoreline Protection

CB: … Two of Kahana Sunset's six buildings are teetering near the water's edge while battling sinkholes and shaky foundations. It's now in the county's hands to decide what to do….

(CLUE: Kahana Sunset is on the Minatoya List.)

An engineer hired by the condo association deemed Building F — one of Kahana Sunset’s six buildings housing 79 units — unsafe in March 2021. During storms, waves sometimes break over the building’s roof and blast sand across the lanais. The ocean has undermined the foundation and created sinkholes under the adjacent Building A….

Public debate over what to do with the vulnerable buildings is coming to a head.

The Maui Planning Commission is set to consider later this year whether to allow Kahana Sunset to make emergency repairs to Building F, something it has greenlit for decades over the objections of shoreline advocates who want both buildings moved inland or demolished and the seawall removed so the shrinking beach can rebuild itself. They also point out that once a building enters the high wash of a wave, it’s encroaching on state land and a public beach.

But condo owners see it differently. In their mind, the building should be fixed….

Seawalls … have been deployed for decades to protect private property.

Hawaii has outlawed new seawalls, but Kahana Sunset says its geriatric one should be allowed some much-needed care….

(CLUE:  All this talk is just a conspiracy to kill these buildings.)

read … Repair Or Retreat? An Ocean-Battered Maui Condo Complex Grapples With An Uncertain Future

Sen Brenton Awa Buys Lawnmower with Senate Allowance

CB: … Last month The Blog reported the most recent state House of Representative allowance spending reports. Technical glitches delayed the posting of the Senate reports, but now they are up….

Next to Dela Cruz, the biggest Senate allowance spending was usually for travel and related expenses:

  • Sen. Glenn Wakai spent $1,670 to attend a sports and convention facilities conference in Las Vegas in May.
  • Sen. Tim Richards spent $4,524 for himself and a staffer to attend an agricultural policy summit in Washington, D.C.
  • Sen. Dru Kanuha spent $2,781 to attend the same summit as Richards. He also spent $285 for a visa for a Hawaii-China travel mission in May.
  • Sen. Lorraine Inouye spent $926 to attend a women in government conference in Seattle earlier this month.
  • Sen. Ron Kouchi spent $885 for a staffer to attend an Asian American / Pacific Islander summit in Las Vegas this month.

And here’s one other allowance item that earns Blog props for novelty: Sen. Brenton Awa spent $2,616 on a gas riding lawn tractor for his rural Oahu district for “aina-based projects.” Hmmm …

Awa also spent $2,000 for excavation services for a food tree-planting project in Haleiwa plus another $163 for supplies — Clorox, bins, buckets, string and a “wheel barrel.” Earlier this year Awa also spent about $6,500 for tree-planting in Kahaluu….

read … The Sunshine Blog: You've Got Mail - Honolulu Civil Beat

DelaCruz Pushing Offshore Wind Farms In Kaiwi Channel

CB: … Aukahi Energy, a partnership between Progression Energy and EDF Renewables North America, is seeking approval to build floating offshore windmills north of the Kaiwi Channel, near Makapuu Point. If approved, the project will produce enough clean electricity to power around 300,000 homes, according to the company.

If all goes according to plan, the windmills would be up and running by 2035, according to vice president Noelani Kalipi. In the meantime, she said that the company will be running a wide range of studies, examining everything from the project’s impact on marine mammals and fishing to its cultural implications….

Aukahi Energy’s objective is to help Hawaii reach its renewable energy goals, said Donalyn Dela Cruz, the company’s head of communications. …

(IQ Test: Do you understand now?)

Maxx Phillips of Center for Biological Diversity said the project’s siting — somewhere between the islands of Oahu and Molokai — as a “huge ecological flag.”

“While the project proponents are claiming that this is an Oahu project, it is closer to Molokai than it is to Oahu,” she said. “So already you have an environmental issue, right? Why should Molokai be giving up their near shore waters to feed the insatiable appetite of Oahu and its military and tourist economies?”….

read … New Project Seeks To Build Offshore Wind Farms In Kaiwi Channel

Couple says they survived being 'hunted' on Maui

KHON: … “Now he’s coming towards us. So we very, very quickly went from a fast walk to a sprint up this gulch.”

They had a choice to make, stay on the road theyʻre being chased on, head toward the water, or head up the hill–that hill being Haleakalā.

They hopped a guardrail and hid behind boulders in the nick of time.

“He’s yelling for us to show ourselves. Yeah, I’ll find you. I’ll find you. And he, at some point, he counts down from, I don’t know if it was 10 or I heard him at five, so I don’t know down from 10 or to count down from five. And at the end of it, he shot the gun off. And so we knew it was loaded. We knew he meant business.”

When they thought it couldnʻt get any worse, their pursuer was joined by a white multi-passenger van with a taxi sign.

“They rendezvous. They came up with some type of they, they had some type of interaction this vehicle and our rental car, and we knew at that point that this guy was in on finding us.
Now there’s, well, both driving up and down the road slowly looking for us.”

They continued darting up the mountain, both in swimming suits, her in slippers. And nobody to help.

During a break, they noticed that there was a third vehicle pacing the stretch of road, getting out with flashlights and even putting a drone in the sky.

“This feeling of being hunted and not knowing the extent of, you know, the, what they would do, what they wanted and who he had at his fingertips to help.”

Throughout the night, they climbed higher and higher as the air grew colder. They drank from a small waterfall.

Then at daybreak they saw tour helicopters but the helicopters did not see them. They saw two men on horseback with dogs but, unsure whether they were help or hunter, they continued on without initiating contact.

Over a ridgeline they saw a big white structure and three people. As they waved for help, a park ranger came to their rescue….

KHON: Authorities said the investigation into the involvement of other individuals remains active and ongoing.

June 7, 2024: Helmer wanted by MPD

2019: Helmer meth addict and rapist

read … Couple says they survived being 'hunted' in Hawaii

Downtown Honolulu electric grid upgrade will be long, disruptive

SA: … “Because it’s so old and the way it’s designed, we have to de-energize customers in order to do certain upgrades,” said Shelee Kimura, company president and CEO. “A lot of the work that has yet to be done is going to require us to take some customers down in order to do the replacements.”

Some of this work is anticipated to be done at night to minimize disruptions that can’t totally be avoided….

read … Downtown Honolulu electric grid upgrade will be long, disruptive  

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