Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Legislative panel grills economists as state surplus grows, Ige hedges re-election bet, Honolulu homeless park-hop, rental prices drop, few appeal property assessments, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy Jan. 2 House Democrats
Senate and House money committee hearings kickoff Tuesday, courtesy House Democrats
Economists: Financial Challenges Are Looming For Hawaii. Economists caution legislators about the housing shortage, the possibility of lower tax revenue and reduced tourist spending. Civil Beat.

Housing push would boost state’s economy, expert says. If Hawaii were to spur the development of 33,000 additional new homes between now and 2025 to address the state’s housing shortage, that extra economic activity would increase the number of construction jobs by 13 percent and boost the gross state product by more than 0.5 percent, according to a University of Hawaii economist. Star-Advertiser.

The state's surplus has grown to $893M. Here's what lawmakers plan to do with it. Hawaii News Now.

Governor asks Legislature to cover possible transition, vacation payouts. The governor’s office is asking the state legislature for $742,285 in case Gov. David Ige is not re-elected later this year. KHON2.

Department of Health Audited Over Disease Response. Hawaii wrestled with three big public health scares linked to mosquitos, bad scallops, and bad seaweed. A legislative audit uncovered weaknesses in record keeping and the state’s response to the outbreaks. Hawaii Public Radio.

Local Stocks Had a Mixed 2017. Hawaii Public Radio.

Kaiser, HMSA hike insurance premiums. Most health insurance policyholders began paying higher premiums this week. The increases range from 5.9 percent to nearly 25 percent. Tribune-Herald.

Matson increases Neighbor Island barge capacity. Matson Inc. Tuesday said it replaced one of its three barges dedicated to serving Hawaii's Neighbor Island ports with a newer, larger barge in order to improve service levels. Pacific Business News.

Kamehameha Schools releases video apology to sex abuse victims, outlines plans to make school safer. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu

Mother Waldron Park closure prompts homeless to return to Kakaako waterfront. The city planned to shut down Mother Waldron Neighborhood Park in Kakaako for a month beginning late Tuesday night, prompting some homeless people like Al Saenz to try to sneak back into the shuttered Kakaako Waterfront Park where he started from. Star-Advertiser.

Authorities are closing another Kakaako park amid complaints about homeless encampments. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu city officials are asking residents to give panhandlers a special business card instead of cash. Associated Press.

Honolulu falls out of the top 10 cities with highest apartment rents. The median asking rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Honolulu has fallen by 7.1 percent since January of last year, knocking Hawaii’s largest city out of the top 10 for cities with the highest rents, according to a new report by the online real estate site Zumper. Pacific Business News.

Analysis suggests Honolulu rents could be cooling off. Hawaii News Now.

Hunt, Hawaii public housing officials ink master development agreement for Mayor Wright project. Hunt Cos. and the Hawaii Public Housing Authority have signed a master development agreement for the $1.3 billion redevelopment of the Mayor Wright Homes in Honolulu, putting the 2,500-unit project on a path to a groundbreaking by the end of 2019. Pacific Business News.

Beachgoers encountered vast heaps of marine debris at Kailua Beach early Tuesday, and volunteers jumped into action to clean it up while the state and city pondered jurisdictional questions. Star-Advertiser.

Kualoa Ranch wants to expand visitor activities. After 32 years of tours and activities, Kualoa Ranch wants to make major changes to its special use permit under proposed expansion plans. KITV.

What’s Up With All The Fake Brides On Hawaii Beaches? Honolulu is full of Japanese tourists in wedding attire, but many are there just for the photos. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Appeals of property values at all-time low. The Real Property Tax Review Board heard just 195 appeals last year, compared to 399 in 2016. The count hovered at about a thousand before that, with an all-time high of 1,516 cases in 2008. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaiian Springs LLC, which distributes natural artesian water from the Big Island, filed for Chapter 11 reorganization Friday as the state was wrapping up a seventh straight year of declining bankruptcy cases. Star-Advertiser.

Sex assault victim sues DLNR, fired state cop. A woman who was a minor when she was sexually assaulted by an on-duty state Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement officer two years ago on a Hilo beach is suing the officer, since fired, and the state agency. Tribune-Herald.

The Hazards Of Swimming Near A Sewage Plant. A Big Island group documented at least 10 cases of infections contracted by people swimming near industrial sites. Civil Beat.

Tenants move into Kamakana Villages as master developer moves on. West Hawaii Today.

Leading IT professionals to descend on Big Island for HICSS conference. Pacific Business News.

Maui

Maui beachgoers say they're being pushed out — by beach chairs and cabanas. Now the state Land Department is investigating after multiple complaints. Hawaii News Now.

Popular Junk Vehicles Program On-Hold, More Funds Needed. County officials say that due to the popularity of the program, budgeted funding has been expended. Maui Now.

Commentary: The best thing you could say about Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa in 2017 was that he clearly loved his job and was willing to give it his undivided attention 24/7. MauiWatch.

Kauai

County reconsiders rental housing bill. A committee will consider adding a new article to the Lihue planning code that will encourage and accommodate the construction of additional rental units in the Lihue Planning District. Garden Island.

Making Desolate Downtown Lihue Cool Again. A $13.8 million makeover is planned for Kauai’s center of industry and government, and at least one private investor is on board in a big way. Civil Beat.

Prosecutors investigate claims Kauai homeowner killed 4 nene with BB gun. The nene are federally protected and are native to Hawaii. Hawaii News Now.