Sunday, December 31, 2023

The year that was: 2023. A recap of top stories and images through the eyes of local media from all the Hawaiian Islands

These big stories broke our hearts and brought us together in 2023. Here are some of Hawaii’s top stories of 2023. Hawaii News Now.

2023 through the lens of Star-Advertiser photographers. These images from 2023, chosen by the Star-Advertiser’s photographers, reflect our community and its perseverance through hardships, including the devastating Maui wildfires.  Star-Advertiser.

Images of 2023:
Take A Look Back At Some Of The Scenes Our Photographers Captured This Year. The searing pictures of Lahaina devastation will always define 2023, but they are joined here by other memorable moments in time. Civil Beat.

Here’s A Month-By-Month Look At Some Of Civil Beat’s Top Stories Of 2023. It had been a busy news year even before the tragic August wildfires in West Maui. Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s COVID-19 death toll surpassed 2,100 in 2023. The year 2023 is closing out with nearly 300 additional COVID-19-related deaths, bringing Hawaii’s total COVID-19 death toll as of Wednesday to 2,104. Star-Advertiser.


Events that shaped 2023 on Oahu
. Top Honolulu stories of the year include a traffic crash that killed a McKinley High School student — allegedly by a driver with no driver’s license and 164 traffic citations that resulted in speed humps across Oahu; deaths and violence on the Leeward side and the opening of Honolulu’s rail system. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Aloha, 2023! A look back at the year that was.
As we ring out 2023 and usher in 2024, here are the Big Island’s top 10 news stories for the past year, as selected by the editorial staff of the Tribune-Herald. Tribune-Herald.

Big Island Now poll results: Fatal dog mauling, fires, Uncle Billy’s hotel demolition top 2023 news stories. Reflecting back on 2023, the Big Island saw progress and devastation, from the planned demolition of Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel and the scheduling of road projects for the 2018 Kīlauea eruption recovery to fatal dog attacks and scary wildfires.  Big Island Now.


2023 Year in Review. Lahaina’s devastating wildfire headlines a news-filled year. Maui News.

Tracing path of inferno in Lahaina, hour by hour. As a fast-moving inferno overran the Maui town of Lahaina this summer, a cascade of failures by officials left thousands trapped and largely fending for themselves. At least 100 people perished in the blaze — the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century. New York Times.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Hawaii tourism's slow return, minimum wage hike, new gun laws kick in Monday, Lahaina restaurant workers get $600 gift cards, four inmates indicted in OCC beating death, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Visitor arrivals to Hawaii up slightly, but spending drops.  Some 731,233 visitors came to the Hawaiian Islands in November, up just 0.3% from November 2022. Star-Advertiser.

In encouraging sign for tourism, Japanese visitor arrivals to Hawaii on the rise. Just under 63,000 Japanese tourists arrived in Hawaii last month, which is a 142% increase from November 2022. Arrivals are still not quite at pre-COVID levels, but, spending is seeing an increase. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii’s Minimum Wage To Increase To $14 On Monday.  The increase is required under a 2022 law that incrementally increases the wage to $16 per hour on Jan. 1, 2026, and to $18 per hour on Jan. 1, 2028. Civil Beat. Kauai Now.

Kaleo Manuel Became A Cause Celebre For Maui Water. Now He’s Leaving The State Water Commission Without Saying Why. The deputy water commissioner told one state lawmaker he didn't want to be 'an obstacle.'  Civil Beat. Hawaii Public Radio.


Oahu gun owners frustrated over new firearm law. The Honolulu Police Department has not certified any instructors yet, therefore it will be impossible to get a permit. KITV4.

City releases ‘Complete Streets’ report. Honolulu has released its 2023 “Complete Streets” progress report, which details finished and ongoing projects underway for people walking, biking and accessing transit on Oahu. Star-Advertiser.

Attorney Michael Green sued for alleged sexual harassment.
A former client of attorney Michael Jay Green filed a “Jane Doe” lawsuit against him and his law firm alleging he sexually harassed and sexually assaulted her. Star-Advertiser.

Four inmates indicted in OCCC beating death.
An Oahu grand jury indicted four Oahu Community Correctional Center inmates for manslaughter in the death of inmate Christopher Vaefaga, 36. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.  KITV4.

NOAA surveying shoreline in case whale calf spotted around Waikiki comes back. Honolulu Ocean Safety and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) responded to a call Wednesday afternoon to a humpback whale calf that was separated from its mother. The calf was spotted swimming very close to shore at Fort DeRussy Beach. KITV4.

Hawaii Island

New Firearm Permitting Law Takes Effect Starting 2024. The Hawaiʻi Police Department detailed the changes to the application form in a Thursday news release. Big Island Video News.

Hawai‘i County’s top leadership to get pay raises for first time in 5 years.
  Officials  will receive a 22.44% inflation adjustment increase starting Jan. 1 and a 5% pay raise in July. Big Island Now.

County seeks to fill Community Development Plan Action Committees. The County of Hawaiʻi seeks applicants for its Community Development Plan (CDP) Action Committees for Kona and Puna.  Big Island Now.


New rules on Maui Police Department’s concealed carry weapon policy go into effect. Any concealed carry weapons license applications submitted before January 1, 2024, but are pending approval will not be subject to the new rules. Maui Now.

Thousands of Lahaina restaurant workers to receive $600 prepaid debit cards.  Thousands of Lahaina restaurant workers are scheduled to receive financial aid in the form of $600 prepaid debit cards following a fundraiser by celebrity chef Guy Fieri. Hawaii Public Radio.

Parents And Teachers Say Schools Must Do More To Help Those Still Traumatized By Lahaina Fire.
Campuses have expanded their mental health resources, but some people say the response has been inadequate. Civil Beat.

Lahaina Disaster Recovery Center hours to change Tuesday.
The Lahaina Disaster Recovery Center will have shorter hours next year, starting Tuesday, Jan. 2, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Star-Advertiser.

Survivor shares video of his dramatic Lahaina escape in bid to share a powerful message. Nearly five months after the Maui wildfires killed at least 100 people, a Lahaina man is sharing dramatic videos of his escape. Hawaii News Now.


County seeks approval for ‘Waimea 400’ affordable housing.
As the County of Kaua‘i Housing Agency works to obtain land use and environmental approvals for a new affordable housing development on the island’s westside, the agency is asking members of the public to weigh in on plans for the future project. Garden Island.

Home sales hold steady, price eases. A weary housing market showed a spark of life in the penultimate month of 2023, as sales of single-family homes were on par with the same period a year earlier on the island of Kaua‘i. Garden Island.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Party official wants hearing on new Supreme Court justice's ties to super PAC, new assistant superintendent named to manage school money, another lawsuit in Maui fire aftermath, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Public Hearing Sought On New Supreme Court Justice’s Ties to Super PAC. A state Democratic Party official wants the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold another hearing on Vladimir Devens because the Supreme Court designate did not disclose his involvement with the Pacific Resource Partnership’s political action committee. Civil Beat.

After Spending Debacle, DOE Appoints New Assistant Superintendent To Oversee School Facilities. The Hawaii Department of Education has a new official responsible for overseeing campus facilities as it struggles to handle millions of dollars in capital improvement project funds.  Civil Beat.

Hawaii Prison Chief Wants Department Changes To Bring ‘Paradigm Shift’. Tommy Johnson will become the director of Corrections and Rehabilitation after the Public Safety Department is dissolved on Monday. Civil Beat.

Minimum wage to increase to $14 on Jan. 1. Act 114 incrementally increases the minimum wage to $16 per hour Jan. 1, 2026, and to $18 per hour Jan. 1, 2028. Big Island Now. KITV4.

Food insecurity rises in Hawaii amid increasing costs. A new study from nonprofit Hunger Free America found that 137,000 people across the state lived in food-insecure households between 2020 and 2022 — including 14.7% of children, 8.3% of employed adults and 4.4% of older residents. Star-Advertiser.


Feds back effort to make Honolulu streets safer. Under the federal Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) program, a $1.67 million grant to the city’s Department of Transportation Services will allow for the study of alternate roadway configurations and improvements to pedestrian safety on Beretania Street, Kapiolani Boulevard and Wilder Avenue as well as on South King, Young, Piikoi and Kaheka streets, the city says. Star-Advertiser.

Task force seizes 17 more tons of fireworks. The Illegal Fireworks Task Force, operated under the state Department of Law Enforcement, seized about 17 tons of illegal fireworks at Honolulu Harbor on Wednesday from a shipping container that falsely declared its contents as “other items,” the DLE announced in a news release. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.  Hawaii News Now.

State looks for new contractor to remove Falls of Clyde from Honolulu Harbor.
The state transportation department will try again to get a third party to remove the worn-down Falls of Clyde ship from Honolulu Harbor. Hawaii Public Radio.

Monster waves roll into Oahu’s North Shore,
creating dangerous conditions in the water and on shore. Honolulu Ocean Safety says they’ve got all hands on deck Wednesday with dangerous conditions across the North Shore, including powerful shore breaks and strong rip currents. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Cell tower raises concerns
: Proposed project in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates would be located near Kahuku Park. At a Dec. 7 meeting of the Windward Planning Commission, Ocean View resident Colleen Conifer successfully petitioned for a contested case against a plan by Renegade Towers LLC to build a telecommunication facility — including a 150-tall cell tower and an equipment storage space — on a 4,994-square-foot portion of a parcel roughly 700 feet from Kahuku Park at the intersection of Paradise Circle Makai and Keaka Parkway. Tribune-Herald.

Federal plan limits number of helicopter tours in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. It's expected that there will be nearly 10,000 fewer helicopter and air tours a year at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park on Hawaiʻi Island under a new plan from the federal government. Hawaii Public Radio.


Kula residents sue Maui utilities over damage caused by wildfire. Dozens of Kula residents, represented by law firm Singleton Schreiber, have filed a lawsuit against Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc., Hawaiian Electric Co., Hawaii Electric Light Co. and Maui Electric Co., claiming that the utilities are responsible for the Kula fire. Star-Advertiser.

Petition garners 5,287 signatures against use of Olowalu as a fire debris disposal site. The petition from a family on Olowalu Village Road says even temporary storage of these substances from the Aug. 8 wildfires “poses great risk of causing irreversible damage to soil, water, air, the ocean and people.” Maui Now.

Hundreds protest in Olowalu against proposed dump site for toxic fire debris
. West Maui families are protesting in opposition to a proposed dump site for toxic fire debris south of Lahaina. Hawaii News Now.

$900K to market Maui to ‘respectful’ Canadian visitors. Tourism officials said visitors to Maui from Canada accounted for almost 8% of arrivals before Tuesday, Aug. 8. KHON2.


County seeks approval for ‘Waimea 400’ affordable housing. County seeks approval for ‘Waimea 400’ affordable housing.  As the County of Kaua‘i Housing Agency works to obtain land use and environmental approvals for a new affordable housing development on the island’s westside, the agency is asking members of the public to weigh in on plans for the future project. Garden Island.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Legal battle could limit rural Hawaii abortion access, controversial water resource official Kaleo Manuel leaves post, Maui realtors newsletter offends Lahaina fire survivors, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands


A Legal Fight Over Abortion Pill Access Could Have Major Impacts For Rural Hawaii. A Supreme Court decision restricting use of the pill could make it difficult if not impossible for many Hawaii women to get an abortion. Civil Beat.

Case of newborn girl left in trash bin shines light on legal options. Could knowledge of Hawaii’s “Baby Safe Haven” law have prevented a mother from giving birth and dumping her live newborn infant into a trash bin Saturday night in Kahala? Star-Advertiser.

Reinstated water official Manuel leaving post.  The departure of Kaleo Manuel as deputy director of the Commission on Water Resource Management will be effective Jan. 5, according to state Sen. Lorraine Inouye. Star-Advertiser.

University of Hawaiʻi requests additional $56M from state Legislature. The costs would fund over 100 positions at UH campuses statewide that would boost mental health counselors, medical programs and campus security. UH has a total operating cost of $1.3 billion. Hawaii Public Radio.


Public asked to weigh in on impacts of Marine Corps Base Hawaii facility upgrades.
The military is looking to upgrade its facilities at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Windward Oahu and the public is invited to weigh in on those proposed plans. Hawaii News Now.

Building A Bike Path From Nanakuli To Manoa Could Take 20 Years. The City and County of Honolulu is soliciting contractors for help crafting an initial plan. Civil Beat.

Naloxone required at bars and restaurants starting 2024. The majority of businesses with liquor licenses on Oahu will be required to have naloxone, a drug that counters opioid overdoses on site starting the new year. Honolulu became the first major American city to pass a law of its kind. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Hawaiʻi County issues the most new building permits for homes in the state. According to data from the University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization, the county granted 930 permits for new residences between January and April of 2023. In the same time period, Honolulu County issued 330 permits, Maui County issued 235, and Kauaʻi County issued 185 permits. Hawaii Public Radio.


State senators from Maui earn leadership roles and committee assignments for 2024.
The Hawaiʻi State Senate announced its finalized leadership and committee assignments ahead of the 32nd Legislature to continue on Jan. 17, 2024.  Maui Now.

Hui O Ka Wai Ola gets $179K FEMA funds to increase water quality testing in Lahaina. HOKWO was one of the first groups to test water quality in the burn zone and continues to monitor conditions at seven sites within Lahaina town. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.

Businesses In Lahaina May Face Significant Barriers To Reopening. A California town recovering from a devastating wildfire offers a glimpse of the challenges ahead for Lahaina's business community -- along with a few possible solutions. Civil Beat.

Maui realtors apologize after sending newsletter about Lahaina properties
. After sending out a newsletter discussing Lahaina properties some considered offensive, Wailea-based real estate brokerage Romvari Realty apologized for the message. KITV4.


Fireworks go on sale for New Year’s Eve.
Kaua‘i Fire Department officials said that fireworks and firecrackers may only be ignited on private property between 9 p.m. on Dec. 31, and 1 a.m. on Jan. 1, and only licensed pyro-technicians with proper permits are authorized to ignite aerial fireworks. Garden Island.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Hawaii pays health-care workers' student loans, big raises for Hawaii County government execs, newborn found in Honolulu trash bin, UH football program loses money, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii health care workers’ student loans to be paid. Just in time for Christmas, the state told 492 Hawaii health care workers this week that it will pay off their student loans — up to $100,000 — in return for a two-year commitment to stay in the islands. Star-Advertiser. Kauai Now.  KITV4.

Hawaii health care workers grateful for loan forgiveness
. Coincidentally on Friday, Gov. Josh Green — age 53 — made his final loan payment on his own 30-year-old student loan, which ran up to $315,000 with interest. Star-Advertiser.

New Hawaii homeless coordinator Mizuno saw his unhoused brother die. Hawaii’s incoming homeless coordinator — state Rep. John Mizuno — knows the tragedy of homeless personally. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lags in preparing kids for kindergarten, state DOE report shows.
In the Hawaii public schools’ first statewide assessment of children’s kindergarten readiness, less than one-third of children entering kindergarten this fall demonstrated “baseline readiness” for school, according to new state Department of Education data that evaluated basic language, math and social skills, and physical development. Star-Advertiser.

New report on cycle of poverty in Hawaii urges state lawmakers to find solutions. A new report shows Hawaiʻi's lack of economic mobility imposes a high cost on us all, but especially on our keiki. The report found kids pay the biggest price with poorer health outcomes, less education, and lose out on future economic productivity. KITV4.

U.S. Rep. Ed Case is pushing for legislation that would restrict international imports of protected ornamental reef fish and coral collected through destructive practices. The Hawaii Democrat introduced the legislation, known as the Saving Natural Ecosystems and Marine Organisms Act to the House on Nov. 17, after which it was referred to the House committees on Natural Resources, Ways and Means, and Foreign Affairs. Star-Advertiser.

State Hospital Workers Who Witnessed A Nurse’s Murder Have Been Denied Workers Comp. A doctor treating four employees said the decision is "unconscionable" and will delay their ability to address the trauma they experienced. Civil Beat.


University Of Hawaii Athletics Needs Your Money To Survive. Here’s How College Sports Finances Are Changing. UH's lack of the big revenue seen by other college athletic programs is hampering its ability to compete, especially in the high-finance sport of football. Civil Beat.

Newborn baby abandoned in trash bin rushed to hospital in serious condition. Honolulu police have opened a child abandonment case after a Kahala resident saved a newborn baby girl from a trash bin  Saturday night, officials said. Hawaii News Now.

Overheated Leeward Park To Get Shade Trees — And Volunteers To Water Them. The pilot project near Maili Elementary School could be a model for more efforts to cool Oahu's hot spots. Civil Beat.

High bacteria levels found in  Kailua Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant sample. The sample, which was taken at 8:08 a.m. Thursday, exceeded the single sample daily maximum limitation for enterococcus under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for the plant, according to a news release from the Honolulu Department of Environmental Services. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Hefty raises for county execs. Mayor Mitch Roth’s pay will increase from $162,582 to $199,068 on Jan. 1 and $209,028 on July 1.  Council members will receive raises to $85,728 on Jan. 1 and $90,024 on July 1, with the chair receiving hikes to $94,308 on Jan. 1 and to $99,024 on July 1. Tribune-Herald.

Council OKs Puna route study after initially rejecting bill. The Hawaii County Council voted Wednesday to reject $1.5 million for a study of possible alternate routes into Puna before immediately calling for a do-over and accepting the funds. Tribune-Herald.

PATH expands HIBIKE system and continues partnership with Mass Transit Agency, offering free HIBIKE Bikeshare to Hele-On Riders. People for Active Transportation Hawai‘i (PATH) has just completed the expansion of their HIBIKE bikeshare system with funds awarded from the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant through the State of Hawai‘i Department of Transportation and administered by the County Department of Public Works.  Big Island Now.


New Database Tracks Millions In Donations And Government Funds For Maui. Readers have asked Civil Beat to follow where donated monies are going. Civil Beat.

Construction at Olowalu begins while officials still decide on final fire debris holding site. A temporary storage site for Lahaina fire debris is under construction in Olowalu on Maui.  Hawaii Public Radio.

Aftereffect from Lahaina wildfire will create opportunities for some businesses. The Maui County Office of Economic Development is looking for options for businesses that are facing increased challenges due to the fires and the tightening commercial real estate market. Star-Advertiser.

Maui Police Department offers cash rewards for tips on illegal fireworks. Law enforcement agencies across Hawaii are employing various strategies to crack down on illegal fireworks as New Year’s Eve approaches. Star-Advertiser.


Environmental lawsuit halts plans for West Kaua‘i Energy Project. Plans for a more than $250 million renewable energy project on the westside of Kaua‘i are in limbo, following lawsuits by two community groups that allege its environmental impact was not properly assessed. Garden Island.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Happy holidays!


Sending holiday greetings and wishes for a healthy, fulfilling and prosperous New Year! Don’t spend your busy holiday season flipping through multiple media sources to keep up with all the top government, political and business news of the day. Go to your local nonprofit All Hawaii News and find the most current news all in one place. 

 We ask that your charitable contributions to All Hawaii News this year be sent instead to the Maui charity of your choice. It takes a village. Mahalo!


Friday, December 22, 2023

Schools superintendent to reorganize department following $2B construction fund backlog, Kaneshiro bribery trial set, Red Hill fuel lingers in water, volcano air tours limited, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

With $2B in unspent construction money, schools Superintendent Keith Hayashi pledges to overhaul process. Hawaii’s school superintendent is promising to reorganize his department to deal with a huge backlog of school construction projects. Hawaii News Now.

Leadership roles in limbo as Hawaii Tourism Authority preps for Legislature. The Hawaii Tourism Authority has less than a month to shore up uncertainties surrounding its budget, leadership for the agency and for some key contractors before the state Legislature convenes its 2024 session. Star-Advertiser.

Prisons Director And Corrections Commission Agree To Keep Talking And Meeting.
After a brief impasse, Department of Public Safety Director Tommy Johnson is once again participating in meetings. Civil Beat.


Judge denies ex-city prosecutor’s last ditch effort to have public corruption case thrown out. A bribery trial is set to begin in February for Keith Kaneshiro, Honolulu’s longest-serving city prosecutor, and his campaign donors from an engineering firm. Hawaii News Now.

Petroleum From Red Hill Leaks May Be Lingering In Pearl Harbor Drinking Water. A new EPA report lends credence to complaints that residents say were otherwise falling on deaf ears. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

State crews continue slope assessment following Pali Highway landslide. Pali Highway’s townbound lanes remains closed following a landslide Wednesday, and state officials say assessments of the slope are ongoing. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.  KITV4.

Hawaii Island

HVNP air tours limited: New management plan puts substantial restrictions on overflights.
Air tours above Hawaii Volcanoes Natural Park will be cut by nearly 90% under a long-awaited new Air Tour Management Plan. Tribune-Herald.

Telescope removed from Caltech Submillimeter Observatory atop Maunakea; decommissioning paused until spring. The Leighton telescope has been taken out of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory and removed from Maunakea on the Big Island for shipment to Chile for re-use. Big Island Now.

$18M federal grants slated for Big Island road and sidewalk safety improvements. The Big Island is slated to receive a share of more than $18 million in federal grants to the State of Hawaii from the U.S. Department of Transportation for projects to improve safety on roads and sidewalks. West Hawaii Today.


County of Maui launching online portal to improve public records request process.
The County of Maui aims to make it easier for residents to request and receive public records in accordance with Hawai’i law, thanks to software technology modernization, the county Department of the Corporation Counsel announced Thursday. Maui Now.

Maui lawmakers outline latest measures aimed at averting wildfires. During a press conference Thursday, Maui county council members discussed three bills they hope will help prevent wildfires on the island.  KITV4.

Maui Starts Building Temporary Landfill For Wildfire Ash And Debris Despite Public Concerns. The county has proposed making Olowalu the permanent site to store 400,000 cubic yards of contaminated material but the mayor will make the final decision. Civil Beat.

Options Expanding For Displaced Maui Families Struggling To Find Housing. A philanthropic partnership led by the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement is offering a direct leasing program and increased stipends for hosts. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.


State intends to declare traffic emergency zone on Kaua‘i due to instability of slope by ‘Opaeka‘a Falls Scenic Lookout. A traffic emergency zone designation allows the state to expedite procurement and permitting to take action to construct improvements to protect access to the state road. Anyone wishing to comment on the designation may do so through a virtual public meeting to be conducted within 24 hours of the designation. Kauai Now.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Mizuno named homeless czar, last Red Hill fuel tanker heading to Subic Bay, Senate panel grills DOE for not spending $465M, state borrows $750M in bonds, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Green Appoints Rep. John Mizuno As Hawaii Homeless Czar. Just days after it was announced that James Koshiba, the governor’s homelessness coordinator, would be stepping down after only a year on the job, Gov. Josh Green named Rep. John Mizuno, a Democrat who has represented Kalihi in the Hawaii House of Representatives. Civil Beat. Hawaii Public Radio.  Tribune-Herald.  Big Island Video NewsKITV4.

Senators Grill DOE Officials For Failure To Spend Project Money Before Deadline. Three weeks after the Hawaii Department of Education proposed to relinquish over $465 million in school facility funds, DOE officials faced tough questions from state senators at a briefing Wednesday.  Civil Beat.

State of Hawaiʻi Issues $750M in general obligation bonds. The bonds will provide critical funding for various public buildings and facilities, elementary and secondary schools, community college and university facilities, public libraries, parks and highways, among other public improvement projects, the administration said in a press release. Kauai Now.

Last tanker of Red Hill fuel departs. The last tanker participating in the defueling of the Navy’s underground Red Hill facility sailed out of Pearl Harbor on Wednesday morning.  The fuel aboard the tanker will be delivered to Subic Bay and is expected to support operations in the South China Sea.  Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

PUC asked to reconsider solar decision. T
wo solar industry groups have filed a motion requesting the state Public Utilities Commission reconsider a recent decision they say could make rooftop solar systems less attractive to homeowners and small businesses. Tribune-Herald.


16 tons of illegal fireworks seized at Honolulu Harbor. The Illegal Fireworks Task Force, operated under the state Department of Law Enforcement, seized a shipment of about 16 tons of illegal aerial fireworks in Honolulu late last week, the department announced in a news release Wednesday. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now.

Should Oahu Have Armed Police Officers Inside Its Schools? Honolulu is the only county in Hawaii that doesn't use school resource officers. Some leaders feel that should change. Civil Beat.

Landslide could keep Pali closed through the weekend. A landslide caused by heavy rain led to the closure of Pali Highway’s town-bound lanes Wednesday afternoon and could remain closed through the weekend, according to state officials. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio.  Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.

HPD investigating bizarre break-in at Oahu judge's home. Sources tell Island News this happened on Wednesday just before noon at Judge Robert Mark Browning's home in Kailua. Sources say a woman removed a window screen from an open window, reached inside the home, and dropped a civil complaint summons. KITV4.

US Army and DOT make progress toward 50-year lease for Dillingham Airfield.  The U.S. Army and State Department of Transportation announced they’re making progress on a proposed 50-year lease Wednesday. Officials say the lease would allow the North Shore airfield to remain open for commercial activities, like glider flying, sky diving, and sightseeing. Hawaii News Now.

All-way stop activated at ‘dangerous’ intersection in Makiki. A new all-way stop at the intersection of Prospect and Alapai streets and Iolani Avenue aims to reduce speeding and the number of traffic accidents in the area. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

$10 million funding approved for homeless service providers. Allocation of nearly $10 million to 16 homeless service providers covering 22 projects was approved Wednesday by the County Council.  West Hawaii Today.

Keiki urge vape bill’s passage: County Council votes 8-0 to approve the measure in first reading. A proposed Big Island ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products was widely popular Wednesday with residents and the Hawaii County Council. Tribune-Herald.


UH scientists fill Maui water quality information void with free testing.
Over four months after the Maui fires contaminated water sources, the Maui Department of Water Supply gave the all-clear Friday for another cluster of Lahaina homes to consume their tap water. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hotel workers, community rally for housing solutions on Maui
. Hotel workers from ILWU Local 142 and Unite Here Local 5 are calling for short-term housing solutions to provide immediate relief to Maui residents displaced by the Lahaina fire, and for the longer-term housing solutions that the county has long needed. Star-Advertiser.

As holidays approach, Lahaina fire survivors struggle to find housing and healing. More than four months have passed since devastating fires destroyed Lahaina town. Survivors are still left searching for housing, healing and the holiday spirit. Hawaii Public Radio.

Kiwikiu found in Nakula on Maui provides hope in ongoing effort to save species.
Nearly two years after conservationists believed all seven kiwikiu birds translocated to the Nakula Natural Area Reserve on Maui had died, a single honeycreeper from the group was located and confirmed to be alive.  Maui Now.


Kaua‘i County Council approves phone hacking device for police. During a Kaua‘i County Council meeting on Dec. 20, council members unanimously approved the acceptance of an $11,743.60 donation from Operation Underground Railroad, for a GrayKey, a phone unlocking box made by technology forensics company Grayshift. Garden Island.

County of Kaua‘i honored for work on sea level rise.
Senate President Ron Kouchi, who is home for the holidays, delivered the Senate honor on Tuesday to Planning Director Ka‘aina Hull and the Planning Department. Garden Island.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Mauna Kea gains listing on Hawaii Register of Historic Places, Obama spotted at Honolulu high school basketball game, June Jones' DUI case dismissed, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Portions of Maunakea, including summit, now part of Hawai‘i Register of Historic Places. Maunakea, the Big Island’s tallest volcanic mountain, towering 13,803 feet, now has one more layer of protection with a decision by the State Historic Preservation Review Board to list state public lands from 6,500 feet and above, including the summit, as a traditional cultural property on the Hawai‘i Register of Historic Places. Big Island Now.

Former President Barack Obama enjoys courtside action at Iolani Classic. The former commander-in-chief, Barack Obama, was spotted watching in the stands at the opening round of the Iolani Classic Tuesday. Hawaii News Now.


Oahu Hospitals Are Bolstering Security With High-Tech Gadgets And Additional Guards. The push to protect health care workers comes in response to an increase in violence at facilities around the county. Civil Beat.

Honolulu Officials Brace For An Onslaught Of Privately Launched Fireworks .
In the run-up to New Year’s Eve, officials are pleading with residents to take caution and not use illegal fireworks. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.  KITV4.

Court document: HPD brass ignored sex harassment, retaliation complaints against embattled major. Honolulu Police Maj. Stephen Gerona was shielded from complaints filed by rank-and-file officers, even against the recommendations of the city’s Equal Opportunity Office. Hawaii News Now.

New IHS treatment center getting mentally ill, addicted homeless off the street. The  Institute for Human Services’ ‘Imi Ola Piha Homeless Triage Center off of Dillingham Boulevard and Kaaahi Street has gotten 101 homeless people off the street since June 5. Star-Advertiser.

June Jones’ DUI case is dismissed. The University of Hawaii’s winningest football coach won in court Tuesday, beating a June 30 DUI charge, and got his driver’s license back. Star-Advertiser.

Parking controversy grows in Lanikai as residents put rocks on city land to block illegal parkers. Tensions are growing in Lanikai over parking concerns as residents take matters into their own hands by using rocks to block access. Hawaii News Now.

A Feral Feline Sanctuary For Oahu? Land prices and zoning laws make replicating the Lanai Cat Sanctuary a heavy lift for a local nonprofit. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Repairs to former Hilo Memorial could start next year. Renovations to the former Hilo Memorial Hospital should begin next year thanks to a $13 million federal grant. Tribune-Herald.

Electrical Line Relocation Proposed In Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.  The National Park and HELCO is requesting public input on a proposed electrical transmission line relocation within the park.  Big Island Video News.


Council to hold special council meeting Friday on financing disaster-relief efforts. The Maui County Council will hold a special council meeting Friday at 9 a.m. to consider bills and resolutions related to monetary allocations for disaster-relief efforts. Maui Now.

Maui Senator: Lahaina Recovery Requires That ‘The Whole State Chips In’. Angus McKelvey lays out the proposals he’ll bring to the Legislature next session after a wildfire devastated his district. Civil Beat.


Fire chiefs support local nonprofits on Kaua‘i. When the Hawai‘i Fire Chiefs Association met for its 44th annual Training &Business Meeting at the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa from Nov. 15 through 19, the body set up accommodations where the meeting attendees could contribute to several local nonprofits. Garden Island.

Authorities seek inmate erroneously released from Kaua‘i Correctional Center. State Sheriff’s deputies are actively searching for 44-year-old Jesse Kaliko Rivera who was erroneously released from Kaua‘i Circuit Court Tuesday. Kauai Now. Hawaii News Now.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Green ups budget more than $1B in response to Maui fire disaster, metal detectors added to state Capitol, Zuckerberg plans underground shelter at new Kauai home, Benioff donates 282 acres for affordable housing, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Governor wants to add more than $1 billion to budget. Green: New Budget Helps Maui But Doesn’t Neglect Housing, Mental Health. The governor revives the idea of a 'green fee' levied on tourists that would help offset the impact of climate change. The recovery from the Aug. 8 Maui wildfire will cost state government about $500 million in the year ahead. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.  Associated Press.  Big Island Now.  Hawaii News Now.  KITV4.

Governor's full 167-page Budget in Brief can be found here.

Hawaii’s Business Records Agency Makes It Hard To Find Information On People. The agency used to do the search itself for free if you knew to call and ask. Now, you have to pay $1,000 a month for a subscription to look up a person's name on the public database. Civil Beat.

BLNR approves new rules for catching and selling nearshore reef fish.
The state Board of Land and Natural Resources last week unanimously voted to accept changes that regulate the fishing of manini, kole, kala and uhu in Hawaiʻi. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii congressman calls for moratorium on ‘destructive’ deep sea mining. U.S. Rep. Ed Case, a Democrat representing Hawaii's 1st Congressional District,  has introduced legislation calling for a ban on deep sea mining in U.S. and international waters. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii tourism industry expects soft holiday season
. Hawaii travel sellers say tourism across the Hawaiian Islands, which was softening even before the devastating Aug. 8 Maui wildfires, is not likely to set any holiday records. Star-Advertiser.

Hawai‘i Tourism Authority awards contract for Island Visitor Education and Brand Management Support Services. The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, which is working among communities to manage tourism in a sustainable manner, has awarded a contract for island-based visitor education and brand management support services for Hawaiʻi Island, Maui, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Oʻahu and Kauaʻi. Maui Now.

State Capitol ups its security.
The next time you visit, be prepared to have to go through metal detectors. The new system was installed Monday afternoon at three entrances — two at the rotunda elevators and one at the chamber level. KHON2.


HPD chief says he’s ‘not aware of all the facts’ in alleged mishandling of crash involving officer. Honolulu Police Chief Joe Logan appeared on a local live radio show. The case centers around Honolulu Police Cpl. Vasai Isala Jr. Hawaii News Now.

New initiative is launched to save coconut trees from invasive beetles. The Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center and its nonprofit, Elepaio Social Services, held a blessing Monday morning at their new coconut nursery as they introduced a new initiative to save coconut tree species from the invasive coconut rhinoceros beetle. Star-Advertiser.

Hale Vietnam fined again for stiffing workers on overtime, tips. The owners of a Vietnamese restaurant in Kaimuki were fined by the U.S. Department of Labor for the second time in eight years after they kept a portion of employees’ tips and failed to pay overtime wages totaling nearly $60,000. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Proposed registry of property owners aims to curb squatting. Owners residing outside of the county would need to designate an agent who lives or maintains a permanent office on the island and submit the agent’s information instead. Tribune-Herald.

Hawai‘i County names interim administrator to newly created office.
Hawaiʻi County has selected Bethany Morrison as the Interim Administrator of the newly established Office of Sustainability, Climate, Equity, and Resilience. Big Island Now.

Benioffs donate 282 acres to Hawaii Island nonprofit. The Hawaii Island Community Development Corp., a Hilo-based nonprofit organization, announced Monday that it has received a major land and cash donation for affordable housing at Ouli in North Hawaii. Tribune-Herald.

Waikoloa Maneuver Area Cleanup Reaches Milestone. A final Record of Decision for Munitions Response Site Sector 15, or Pu‘ukapu, marking the end of response actions at the 11,200-acre former defense site. Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.


SBA to open a Disaster Loan Outreach Center Dec. 19 at the Kahului Library. Even though the federal deadline to apply for wildfire damage or losses has passed, Hawaiʻi residents and businesses have been granted a 45-day grace period, until Thursday, Jan. 25, to submit SBA loan applications for physical property damage caused by the wildfires. Maui Now.


Mark Zuckerberg’s Hawaii compound includes a 5,000 sq. ft. underground shelter. Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg is spending a reported $270 million building the ultimate home in Hawaii. Zuckerberg’s super compound sits on 1,400 acres of land on the Koolau Ranch on Kauai, complete with top-notch security and a 5,000-square-foot underground shelter that’s packed with its own food and energy supplies. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. KHON2.

Update: Aliomanu Road work postponed until further notice; new start date to be announced. The Department of Public Works and its contractor Earthworks Pacific, Inc., announced that road work on Aliomanu Road will be postponed until further notice.  Kauai Now.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Hawaii grapples with homeless laws, Chinese hackers target infrastructure, governor threatens Maui rental moratorium, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Homeless laws continue to face legal challenges. In 2022 Hawaii had over 8,000 homeless people, including 300 children — resulting in the second-highest per capita rate of homelessness in the nation, according to Gov. Josh Green. Star-Advertiser.

Green’s Homeless Coordinator Is Leaving Post.
Gov. Josh Green has not named a replacement yet for James Koshiba, who has been in the role for just under a year.  Civil Beat.

Gov. Josh Green appoints Tyson Miyake to Maui House seat. Gov. Josh Green has appointed Tyson Miyake — a Maui High School graduate and former chief of staff to then-Mayor Michael Victorino — to the state House representing Wailuku-Waikapu on Maui. Star-Advertiser.

Chinese hackers targeting assets in Hawaii.
A water utility and other government and private assets in Hawaii have been targeted this year by hackers working for China’s People’s Liberation Army who are looking for ways to undermine U.S. military capabilities in the Asia-Pacific. Star-Advertiser.

Deep-Sea Mining Vessel Changes Course As Hawaiians Protest From Shore. The Hidden Gem was scheduled to dock in Honolulu Harbor, but it never arrived as demonstrators gathered nearby. Civil Beat.

Coast Guard gets new ship assigned to Hawaii.
The Coast Guard has been steadily boosting its footprint in the Pacific.  Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii State Hospital Workers Were Assaulted More Than 1,700 Times Over The Past 11 Years. Hawaii officials have struggled to address the problem despite building a $160 million forensic hospital designed to improve safety. Civil Beat.

State sues makers of ‘forever chemicals’.
Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state Thursday against 25 manufacturers of what is commonly called forever chemicals found in aqueous film-forming foam for use in firefighting, as well as common household products, including cookware, stain and water-resistant fabrics, cleaners, paints and carpeting. Star-Advertiser.

Public input sought in selection of next UH president
. University of Hawaii students, faculty, staff, alumni and donors in the 10-campus system are being asked along with community members to help in the search for the next university president by completing a survey. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.

Capitol pool repairs on track for completion. Long-awaited repairs to one of the ground-level reflecting pools at the state Capitol are coming to a close after decades of leaking it caused in the chamber level — just in time for the next legislative session. Star-Advertiser.

Former lawmaker Whitney Anderson remembered for life of service and heart of gold.  Loved ones and community members celebrated the life and legacy of former state lawmaker Whitney Anderson on Sunday morning in Kaneohe. Anderson died last month at his Waimanalo home. He was 91. Hawaii News Now.

Milestone is marked for recovery efforts of Nihoa millerbird. The International Union for Conservation of Nature on Monday downlisted the bird, also known as ululu, from critically endangered to endangered because a second population has been established in Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.


Ewa Politician Says Responsible Gun Owners Will Make Hawaii Safer. Not Everyone Is So Sure. The town hall on Wednesday, organized by state Rep. Diamond Garcia, who represents parts of Varona Village, Ewa and Kapolei, was intended to discuss rising crime rates on West Oahu, as well as address questions from residents curious about how to obtain licenses to carry. Civil Beat.

City measures pave way for transit, stadium development. The Honolulu City Council has adopted two related measures to expand transit-oriented development and rezone 227 acres around Skyline’s Halawa station and the shuttered Aloha Stadium. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio.

Military concludes ‘gravity defueling’ at Red Hill as 60,000 gallons remain. The military task force draining the fuel from the Navy’s underground Red Hill fuel facility announced Friday that it had wrapped up the last of its major milestones for the year, completing “gravity defueling” operations. Star-Advertiser.

Planners approve state permit for Kualoa Ranch expansion.
The Honolulu Planning Commission has voted to adopt a state special-use permit to allow Kualoa Ranch Inc. to expand business operations at its Windward Oahu property. Star-Advertiser.

EMS staffing shortage leaves one-third of Oahu’s rigs out of service for 12-hour period. Officials said reasons include a combination of approved holiday vacation leave, maternity leave and illness. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Police: Drugs a factor in half the Big Island’s traffic deaths. That sobering statistic was released Friday as police kicked off its holiday campaign — “If You Fell Different, You Drive Different. Drive High, Get a DUI” — with grant funding assistance from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Tribune-Herald.

North Kohala Water Notice: Two Wells Inoperable. The Hawaiʻi County Department of Water Supply is asking customers from Hāwī To Hala‘ula to reduce water use by at least 10 percent. Big Island Video News.


Hawaii Tourism Authority to vote Thursday on Maui recovery plan.
The forecast for Maui visitor arrivals is still down through 2024, and the overall visitor count to the state is lower at a time when state revenue is needed to support Maui. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Green threatens short-term rental moratorium on Maui. Gov. Josh Green hopes that owners of 3,000 short-term rental units on Maui convert to long-term housing in January for survivors of the Maui wildfires — or face a ban on short-term rentals and higher property taxes. Star-Advertiser. Associated Press. Maui Now. KITV4.

Hawaii House: Short- And Long-Term Solutions ‘Essential’ To Survival Of West Maui. A final report identifies dozens of legislative proposals to ensure that another Lahaina fire does not occur. But if one does, Hawaii will be better prepared. Civil Beat.

Maui developers seek subsidies to alter projects and help fire evacuees.
Maui County officials are being asked to subsidize at least two planned residential subdivisions to affordably house people displaced by the Aug. 8 wildfire that destroyed roughly 3,500 homes in Lahaina. Star-Advertiser.

 Kahoolawe Holds Lessons For Maui’s Environmental Recovery From The Wildfires. The severely degraded island has undergone two decades of restoration work after years of overgrazing, bombing and burning.  Civil Beat.


BLNR weighs in on Coco Palms land parcels issue. A community group fighting to stop the construction of the Coco Palms Resort was awarded joint temporary access rights, along with the developer, for a small piece of disputed state land during a Board of Land and Natural Resources meeting on Dec. 15. Garden Island.

Namahana gets green light from planning commission. The Kaua‘i County Planning Commission unanimously approved the Namahana School Special Use Permit application at its Tuesday, Dec. 12, meeting. Garden Island.

Agriculture Department to host pesticide collection on Kauai. The Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s Pesticides Branch is running a free pesticide disposal program on Kauai for commercial users of pesticides, the HDOA announced Saturday.Star-Advertiser. Kauai Now.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Economic forecast a mixed bag while tourism satisfaction remains high, Native Hawaiian leaders tackle deep-sea mining, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii’s economic growth may slow in 2024. However, unless a U.S. recession materializes, moderate gains are expected to resume in 2025, according to the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization’s fourth-quarter forecast scheduled for release today. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Visitor satisfaction in Hawai‘i remains high despite Maui wildfires, survey finds. The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism recently released the results of its Third Quarter Visitor Satisfaction and Activity Survey for 2023, which found that at least 95% of visitors from each geographic region surveyed rated the Hawaiian Islands as “excellent” or “above average” when it comes to offering a variety of experiences. Maui Now.

Native Hawaiian leaders take a stand against the world’s ‘next gold rush’. On Thursday morning, Native Hawaiian leaders and members of the the Polynesian Voyaging Society, including Nainoa Thompson and Archie Kalepa, issued a call to action against companies extracting minerals from the deep sea floor in the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii News Now.

Embattled head of training at Public Safety arrested for DUI.
The head of training for the state Public Safety Department is in trouble with the law again. HPD officers arrested Marte Martinez on suspicion of DUI about 10:40 p.m. Tuesday. Hawaii News Now.


HART Reaches Nearly $60 Million Settlement With Rail Contractor STG. The board overseeing Honolulu rail construction agreed Thursday to pay an additional sum of $59.9 million to one of the transit project’s largest contractors, Shimmick/Traylor/Granite Joint Venture, to settle that venture’s lawsuit over expensive construction delays plus any other remaining claims. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.

Plan For Aloha Stadium District Includes Workforce And Affordable Housing. The stadium is expected to be game-ready by 2028, but the entire development could take 30 years to complete. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.   Hawaii News Now.

State representative requests private security guards for some West Oʻahu schools.  State Rep. Darius Kila has requested private security guards to patrol after hours at several schools in his district due to recent violence. Hawaii Public Radio.

Unionized workers at Star-Advertiser picket to negotiate better contract. Unionized workers at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser held an informational picket outside the newspaper’s office on Thursday. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Matsuda named director of Keck Observatory. The W. M. Keck Observatory on Thursday announced the appointment of Rich Matsuda as its next director, effective Jan. 1. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.  Big Island Now.

FEMA Grants Notice to Proceed On Pohoiki Road, Highway 137 Restoration. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has granted the County of Hawaiʻi a “Notice to Proceed” on the Pohoiki Road and Highway 137 Road Repair and Water Line Projects, which has been in the planning stages following the 2018 eruption of Kīlauea on the lower East Rift Zone. Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.


Renters Fear Unintended Consequences Of Tax Breaks To Help House Maui Fire Survivors. The county incentives and federal perks are intended to ease the plight of those displaced by the disaster. But some say they're making an already tight rental market even worse. Civil Beat.

Attorney acknowledges deficiencies in Maui homeless sweeps. A Maui County attorney acknowledged Thursday to the state Supreme Court that the county lacks procedures to store items seized in homeless sweeps to allow property owners the opportunity to retrieve their belongings. Star-Advertiser.

Weekly Kula air sampling continues to show air is OK. Air monitoring and sampling in Kula will be continued by the DOH throughout the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Phase II debris removal work to ensure debris removal activities do not significantly impact air quality in the area of Kula. Maui News. Maui Now.


Cost Increases And Lawsuits Have Jeopardized West Kauai Energy Project. The local utility co-op says it has halted development of the hydroelectric portion of the project. Civil Beat.