Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Vacation rentals proliferate in Hawaii, DLNR scales back Obama protection, body cameras for Kauai police, Maui family sues state over sexually abused foster children, Hawaii County buys Ebola gear, snowy Mauna Kea predicted, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Waikoloa ocean and mountain view © 2014 All Hawaii News
Thousands of illegal vacation rentals have been allowed to proliferate throughout the islands, likely contributing to a reduction in state tax revenue and a tightening of local rental markets, a new report by the Hawaii Tourism Authority suggests. Civil Beat.

A recent study commissioned by the Hawaii Tourism Authority has identified tens of thousands more home-based vacation rentals advertised online than the agency thought were available. The HTA said the home-based rentals now represent 25 percent of all lodging units, with hotels accounting for 50 percent. Time shares and condo hotels contribute 12 percent each. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Health Connector is allowing residents more time to sign up for health insurance coverage that would begin Jan. 1. The original deadline to enroll for coverage that begins at the start of the new year was Dec. 15, but they've extended the deadline to noon on Dec. 31. Associated Press.

Local telecomunications executive Albert Hee appeared in U.S. District Court on Tuesday to face federal tax evasion and tax fraud charges. Hee pleaded not guilty. Hee is the president of Sandwich Isles Communications, which along with its two subsidiaries provides telephone and high-speed Internet service to customers living on Hawaiian homelands. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

As hundreds of Hawaii law enforcement officer take part in President Obama's security detail on Christmas and New Year's Day, one state agency will be conspicuously absent. Hawaii News Now has learned that the Department of Land and Natural Resources has pulled back its ocean safety officers for those two key dates because it does not want to pay for overtime.

Hawaiian Electric Co. is asking Hawaii regulators for more time to negotiate an updated power purchase agreement with AES Hawaii, the owner and operator of the state's only coal-fired power plant, as well as the single-largest generating plant on Oahu. Pacific Business News.

The city has sent its real property assessment notices for 2015, and the total assessed valuation of all taxable real property on Oahu has increased from $200.74 billion to $214.90 billion, an overall increase of 7.1 percent. Hawaii Independent.

Local communities struggling to battle crime are in danger of losing the money they depend on to carry on the fight. The Weed and Seed program — overseen by the U.S. Department of Justice — can be found in areas including Ewa and Ewa Beach, Waipahu and in an area that combines the communities of Kalihi, Palama and Chinatown. KHON2.

A coconut crab that somehow made its way to Oahu is causing concern about whether there could be others around. Star-Advertiser.

An outbreak of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus appears to have spread on Waianae pig farms. Star-Advertiser.

Derrick DePledge, the state government and politics reporter for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, is leaving the newspaper. Civil Beat.

A California real estate investment firm, which owns the 2,742-acre Dillingham Ranch on Oahu's North Shore that was founded more than a century ago by Hawaii railroad tycoon Benjamin Franklin Dillingham, plans to develop 934 acres of the Waialua ranch into a 91-lot agricultural subdivision at a cost of $30 million. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

County Finance Director Nancy Crawford, who had a hand on the county purse strings for two mayors, is retiring at the end of the month. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii County Fire Department was given permission Tuesday to purchase better equipment to protect emergency medical services workers from the Ebola virus, even though the equipment will cost more than that offered by the lowest bidder. West Hawaii Today.

It’s weather Santa would approve of. The Big Island’s two summits are braced for Hawaii’s answer to that proverbial howling nor’easter — with wind gusts to 90 mph expected to drive up to a foot of snow hard into the mountain faces by today. Temperatures on the peaks were forecast to dip to a frosty 23 degrees tonight, according to the Mauna Kea Weather Center. West Hawaii Today.

The June 27 lava flow, after stalling less than a half-mile from businesses just in time for Christmas, is giving merchants a much appreciated holiday reprieve. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

The state Department of Human Services is facing a lawsuit after placing two minors in the custody of a foster parent who sexually assaulted them from 2009 to 2011. Maui News.

A pilot project on Maui that allows primary care physicians to send photos of suspicious moles, lesions and rashes to dermatologists for evaluation has been expanded to all patients of Kaiser Permanente. Maui News.

Watching whales from the shoreline will have a unique spin this year—and you can win a prize. Starting now through mid-May, Pacific Whale Foundation will have trained naturalists stationed at key points along Maui’s coastline to help nature enthusiasts locate and learn about whales from the shore. Maui Time.

Kauai

The Kauai Police Department could become the first law enforcement agency in the state to use body cameras next summer. The department plans to buy 141 cameras for $134,000 and begin using them by June or July, Police Chief Darryl Perry said. Star-Advertiser.

Kauai is set to receive one of the 30 deputy sheriffs that graduated Friday in a ceremony on Oahu. Garden Island.

With the annual return of humpback whales to the Hawaiian Islands comes a need for fresh sets of eyes to monitor their behavior. Registration is now open for the 2015 Sanctuary Ocean Count, themed “Keep Calm and Count Whales.” Garden Island.