Friday, April 23, 2021

Hawaii tax hikes target tourists, second homes; Oahu permitting chief to curb bribery schemes; widow sues police over shooting, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands


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New Taxes, Tourism Funding Cuts Among Bills Pushed Through As Legislature Winds Down.
House and Senate lawmakers gave preliminary approval Thursday to a measure that would allow the counties to levy their own tax of up to 3% on hotel rooms and vacation rental units, a move that one lawmaker said would “incentivize” the counties to crack down on illegal vacation rentals. Lawmakers also tentatively agreed Thursday to a significant boost in the state conveyance tax that would be imposed on sales of the most expensive non-owner occupied homes in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

Budget cuts slated for Hawaii Tourism Authority as lawmakers look to reorganize department. After much back and forth, lawmakers agreed on a bill that would cut HTA’s budget from $79 million to $60 million. KHON2.

Cruise ship industry poised for comeback, but are they safe? A year after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control shut down cruise ships because of COVID, officials say the industry is ready to resume with strict guidelines to control the virus. Hawaii News Now.

Vacation rental occupancy in March tops hotels again. Vacation rental occupancy statewide topped Hawaii hotels in March, continuing a six-month trend that emerged in October after Safe Travels Hawaii allowed some visitors to bypass the state’s COVID-­related travel quarantine. Star-Advertiser.

How Hawaii Squandered Its Food Security — And What It Will Take To Get It Back. Hawaii’s reliance on food imports began in the 1960s. To achieve self-sufficiency again, experts say it will take old values and new tools. Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers prepare for when Hawaii eviction moratorium ends. An eviction moratorium is in place that is stopping landlords from evicting tenants for not paying rent during the pandemic. It ends on Tuesday, June 8, unless it is extended. KHON2.

April 22, 2021 COVID-19 Update: The state Department of Health reports that there were 101 additional COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Thursday, including 76 on O‘ahu, nine on Maui, nine on Hawai‘i Island, two on Kaua‘i, and five in Hawai‘i residents diagnosed while out of state. Maui Now.


Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting takes steps to curb corruption. The Department of Planning and Permitting is taking steps to reckon with the conditions within the department that led to federal charges against five former and current employees for accepting bribes to perform city services. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

With Its New Climate Plan, The City Aims To Curb Oahu’s Growing Carbon Pollution
. Cars and trucks are the main culprit driving more greenhouse gas emissions on Oahu in recent years, the new plan states. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Widow of man shot dead by Honolulu police in Nuuanu files lawsuit.
The widow of Lindani Myeni, who was shot and killed by police at a home in Nuuanu on April 14 during an alleged burglary, has filed a lawsuit against the city and three police officers for the wrongful death of her husband. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Oahu Island Burial Council claims Ige is retaliating against its longtime leader. The group claimed Ige did not grant Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu another term because she spoke out publicly in January about alleged mismanagement at the State Historic Preservation Division. Hawaii News Now.

Waikīkī Beach Undergoes Sand Replenishment for Second Time in a Decade. A planned beach maintenance and sand replenishment project at Waikīkī Beach enters its final stage in the heart of Hawai‘i’s major tourism district. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.

City hopes to buy neglected property near Pearl Harbor bike path and turn it into a park. The city hopes to transform a private property along the Pearl Harbor Bike Path into a new park, but the owner said they’re not offering what the lot is worth. Hawaii News Now.

A pier, staircase on public land trigger dispute with private homeowners. Two wealthy Oahu homeowners face fines for doing unauthorized construction work on oceanfront state land to improve long-standing amenities for their residences. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Council hires auditor: Spokane auditor Tyler Benner chosen to lead county office. The Hawaii County Council has chosen as its next county auditor an admitted introvert who owns property on the Big Island over a retiree with 30 years of experience. West Hawaii Today.

Supreme Court hears arguments in Honua Ola’s appeal of PUC ruling.
The state Supreme Court on Thursday heard arguments in Honua Ola Bioenergy’s appeal requesting the high court order the Public Utilities Commission to vacate its July 9, 2020, decision that nullified an amended power-purchase agreement the Pepeekeo power plant had with Hawaiian Electric Co. Tribune-Herald.

Island Naturals plans new flagship store near Wailoa park. Island Naturals founder Russell Ruderman said Thursday he wants to build a retail center that will be at least 67,000-square-feet near Wailoa State Recreation Area that will include a new store location, space for several other businesses, and possibly office space. Tribune-Herald.


4-year college degree won’t be required for next chief. While the Maui Police Commission will seek candidates who have a bachelor’s degree or other higher education in selecting the next police chief, a four-year college degree won’t be a requirement to apply for the job. Maui News.

Despite pause in efforts, conservation groups press on.
While a pause in human activity during the pandemic gave the environment some relief, it also took a toll on local conservation groups who halted projects and scaled back volunteers as the virus spread across the world last year. Maui News.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green Tours Maui Hospital Vaccination Clinic. Lieutenant Governor Josh Green toured the Maui Memorial Medical Center today as part of an island visit that also included discussion with Intensive Care Unit nurses who care for COVID patients, and a visit with Mayor Michael Victorino. Maui Now.

DOH: California variant is the ‘predominant strain’ on Maui
. Epidemiologist says 85% of samples analyzed in March were variants. Maui News.


Council urges broadband equity. Wednesday, the County Council made a commitment, through a resolution, urging the development of broadband infrastructure in support of closing the digital divide during the COVID-19 recovery period. Garden Island.

Kaua‘i has 2nd COVID-19-related fatality.
Thursday, the county announced its second COVID-19-related fatality, claiming the life of an elderly female Kaua‘i resident who was hospitalized on O‘ahu, according to the state Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Office. Garden Island.

Construction today at Kalena Park. The scope of the work includes installation of signs and concrete barriers and removal of fencing, by contractor KickAss Concrete. Garden Island.


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