Thursday, April 7, 2016

Hawaii Supreme Court affirms Koa Ridge development, Legislature seeks contested case fast-track, lawmakers forge China ties, church can't use marijuana, Slom back in hospital, Banyan Drive redevelopment advances, Puna man gets police to pay for seized marijuana, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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The state agency promoting Hawaii is increasingly going digital, using social media and virtual reality to reach potential visitors. Leslie Dance, director for marketing and product development for the Hawaii Tourism Authority, told industry representatives at a tourism marketing meeting in Waikiki on Wednesday the agency plans to unveil its first virtual reality offering at its September tourism conference. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers are seeking to speed up the resolution of important contested cases brought before certain state boards and commissions in the wake of the Thirty Meter Telescope debacle. Star-Advertiser.

Health insurance providers, energy firms, a private prison company and other organizations collectively spent nearly $1 million on lobbyists to influence legislators in January and February, according to filings with the Hawaii State Ethics Commission. That brings the total spent on lobbying connected to the Legislature to nearly $14 million since 2013, the commission’s data shows. Civil Beat.

The two majority leaders of the Hawaii Legislature traveled to China in late March as part of an effort to facilitate formal relations between the United States and China at state and local levels. Sen. Kalani English said the trip could lead to increased Chinese tourism to Hawaii, thanks to visitor industry ties already established between China and Hawaii, and an interest in Sun Yat-sen, the early 20th-century Chinese revolutionary who spent significant time in the islands. Civil Beat.

Several hundred seniors converged at the state Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday morning for the fourth annual Kupuna Power Day, a mix of entertainment and educational activities. Star-Advertiser.

State Sen. Sam Slom remained hospitalized Wednesday for what his staff described as “routine testing and treatment following his hospitalization last month for a stubborn infection.” Star-Advertiser.

A federal court is ruling that a church for Native Americans in Hawaii should not be excused from federal marijuana laws despite the group’s claim that ingesting cannabis is part of its sacred sacrament. Associated Press.

Plans are in the works to launch a statewide system enabling people to send 911 text messages during an emergency. Star-Advertiser.

The coral on the sea floor around the Pacific island of Kiritimati looked like a boneyard in November — stark, white and lifeless. But there was still some hope. Associated Press.

Oahu

Hawaii’s highest court ruled today that an initial phase of the planned Koa Ridge residential community in Central Oahu may proceed.Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Supreme Court has issued a ruling that allows developer Castle & Cooke to proceed with building a 3,500-home community known as Koa Ridge in central Oahu. Civil Beat.

Castle & Cooke Hawaii’s long-delayed 3,500-home Koa Ridge master-planned community in Central Oahu will move ahead after the Hawaii State Supreme Court ruled in favor of the developer on Wednesday, saying the Hawaii Land Use Commission properly reclassified the 768 acres of land from agricultural to urban for the project. Pacific Business News.

The Hawaii Supreme Court has paved the way for the Koa Ridge housing development in Central Oahu to finally move forward. Hawaii News Now.

The Hawaii Supreme Court has given the green light to a controversial Castle and Cooke development that’s been in the works for nearly 20 years. KHON2.

Plans by Mayor Kirk Caldwell to create a housing development division appear doomed, and the future of the Hale Mauliola homeless center at Sand Island and related programs could be as well, under the latest draft of the $2.3 billion operating budget that moved out of the City Council Budget Committee on Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

As many as half the patrol officers on one shift in Honolulu Police Department’s Kalihi district staged a sickout for three days last month in protest of their managers' attempt to crackdown on overtime, sources told Hawaii News Now on Wednesday.

The changing profile of Kakaako, as high-rise condominiums fill the historic district, underscores the need for public open spaces, said Kiersten Faulkner, executive director of Historic Hawai‘i Foundation. Star-Advertiser.

A landowner apologized residents on Oahu's North Shore, promising that they will have a say in a development mauka of Shark's Cove. Hawaii News Now.

Home sales on Oahu took off in March, posting gains of more than 20 percent, while the median price of single-family home and condominiums also increased by single digits, according to statistics released Thursday by the Honolulu Board of Realtors. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

Most County Council members don’t like the idea of enlarging the Board of Ethics, or giving the council more say over its appointees. But that didn’t stop them Wednesday from spending more than an hour in discussion before once again postponing a bill that would do just that. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii County Council gave its support Wednesday to forming a new development agency tasked with improving the Banyan Drive area. Tribune-Herald.

The county settled a lawsuit with a Puna man who claims police illegally confiscated the medical marijuana growing on his Fern Acres property almost four years ago. Tribune-Herald.

When a single rental listing on Craigslist can get 30 or more responses in its first day, it’s not hard for shrewd landlords to bend the law to weed out families and the disabled. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

In response to the high volume of animal emergency calls, the Maui Humane Society revived its 24-hour, seven-day-a-week animal emergency response hotline on Monday to assist domestic animals and livestock. Maui News.

Ron Youngblood was remembered Tuesday as a craftsman writer who elegantly captured Maui life and the spirit of its people, an intelligent blue-collar newsman who could turn a phrase, a mentor to young writers and journalists and a loving brother. Maui News.

Kauai

Addressing the well-documented need for more affording housing on Kauai is a noble cause, but it should not come at the expense of losing the island’s rural character, a Kauai councilman said Wednesday. Garden Island.

Green Aloha, Ltd., one of the consortiums applying for Kauai’s first medical marijuana dispensary license, has struck an agreement with United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 480. Pacific Business News.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources will hold a public meeting on the proposed Haena Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area Management Plan at Kilauea School Cafeteria from 6-9 p.m. Tuesday. Garden Island.