Tuesday, July 18, 2017

State and county high-rise laws face changes in wake of fatal condo fire, Hurricane Fernanda threat lessens, Maui mayor cleared, Kauai salt makers react to climate change, Big Island couple pleads not guilty to starving 9-year-old, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

July 18
Hurricane Fernanda track NOAA

Fernanda continued to weaken overnight but remained a Category 2 hurricane. Hurricane Fernanda is packing maximum sustained winds near 100 mph while moving northwest at 9 mph. It’s located about 1,460 miles east of Hilo. Star-Advertiser.

Hurricane Fernanda continues to weaken as it churns toward the Central Pacific. Hawaii News Now.

The fire at the Marco Polo has put the spotlight on Act 53, formerly known as Senate Bill 611, which makes it illegal for any county to require single-family homes or duplexes to have sprinklers for the next 10 years. It’s a question of whether homeowners should be required to spend thousands of dollars to prevent potential tragedies, and whether raising the already-high price of housing in Hawaii is worth preventing loss of life. Civil Beat.

The Building Industry Association of Hawaii planned, then canceled, a celebration of a bill that prevents counties from mandating single-family homes have sprinklers. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers on the state and county level, as well as Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, want to make sure a deadly high-rise fire, like the one that broke out Friday in the Marco Polo building, doesn’t happen again. KHON2.

Hundreds of older high-rise apartment buildings in Honolulu aren’t required to have sprinkler systems, but city officials are pushing for change in the wake of Friday’s deadly 26th-floor blaze. Associated Press.

Three days after a major fire killed three people at the Marco Polo condominium complex, Mayor Kirk Caldwell has sent the City Council a proposal to require high-rise residential buildings without automatic fire sprinklers to install them. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell today introduced a bill that would require all residential buildings over 75 feet high to install sprinkler systems. The Honolulu Fire Department estimated there are about 300 highrise apartment buildings on Oahu that don't have sprinkler systems. Hawaii News Now.

Fire investigators said Monday the apartment where a deadly fire began in a Honolulu high-rise was near the two units on the 26th floor where the bodies of three victims were found, but they’re still working to determine the cause. Associated Press.

The Marco Polo fatal high-rise fire did not begin in the condominium units of the three people who died in the Friday five-alarm blaze, Honolulu fire investigators have determined. Star-Advertiser.

Commentary: Does The Risk Justify The Cost Of Sprinklers In Older High-Rises? Until now, the answer has been “no.” But the tragic fire in the Marco Polo condominiums could change the equation. Civil Beat.

Commentary: There are no easy answers to draw from Friday’s tragic fire that killed three people at the Marco Polo condominium tower. There is, however, one necessary answer: Heed the calls to retrofit older buildings with fire sprinkler systems. Star-Advertiser.

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The State Department Monday expanded its definition of “close family” to include grandparents and other relatives that constitute a bona fide U.S. relationship for visa applicants and refugees from six mainly Muslim nations, in response to a Hawaii federal judge’s order last week. Associated Press.

Medical Aid In Dying Dealt Another Blow In Hawaii. An Oahu circuit judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit asking the court to prevent existing Hawaii criminal laws from being applied to medical aid in dying practices. Big Island Video News.

The state Public Utilities Commission has accepted an updated plan submitted by Hawaiian Electric Cos. detailing how it will reach the state’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy five years ahead of schedule. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Electric rates could rise 44% under plan OKed by state regulators. Pacific Business News.

Costco Wholesale Corp. paid a fine last week of nearly $5,000 for violating Hawaii's beverage container deposit requirements, the Hawaii State Department of Health said Monday. Pacific Business News.

They can’t quite top Bernie Sanders, but Hawaii U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono both rank among the three most popular senators in the nation, according to a recent poll by survey research company Morning Consult. Star-Advertiser.

Food safety inspectors will begin stepping up enforcement of a new law that bans the use of latex gloves in restaurants. KHON2.

Oahu

Kaimuki charter school finds site to share. SEEQS — the School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability — will be sharing a campus with Kaimuki High School, 2 miles away. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Hawaii County is taking another crack at property tax reform. Fresh from raising taxes on most property types, county officials say they are convening an internal working group to recommend changes to the tax code. Tribune-Herald.

Public Works Director Frank DeMarco has decided to retire. West Hawaii Today.

Keith Okamoto, Hawaii County Department of Water Supply manager and chief engineer, came to Kona on Monday to offer a presentation on the area’s water emergency to the Hawaii County Council’s Agriculture, Water and Energy Sustainability Committee. West Hawaii Today.

Both parents accused of starving a 9-year-old Hilo girl to death last year pleaded not guilty Monday to second-degree murder. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

State officials are dropping a complaint against Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa that accused him of using campaign funds for personal purposes by sponsoring a softball team. Star-Advertiser.

A bill aiming to regulate and look into sand extraction in Maui County is undergoing changes, as a Maui County Council committee continues to mull the measure that arose from an uproar over a recent sand excavation and export case in Maui Lani. Maui News.

A new system will help forecast the effects of sea level rise and waves in West Maui. The University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System has received a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to develop the model. Hawaii Public Radio.

A Stage 1 water shortage declaration for Upcountry, which calls for voluntary cutbacks by consumers, goes into effect today due to drier-than-normal trade wind flows so far this summer. Maui News.

Trilogy Excursions announced it has outfitted all six of its sailing catamarans with sunscreen that is free of reef damaging chemicals. Maui Now.

Kauai

A community of traditional salt makers on Kauai is navigating the impacts of climate change on the generations-old practice. Hawaii Public Radio.

Swells could reach 8 feet on the Eastside today as the initial impacts of Hurricane Fernanda begin to reach Kauai. Garden Island.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources is seeking new projects for its Hawaii Forest Legacy Program that will protect important working forest lands from the threat of conversion to non-forest uses. Garden Island.