Thursday, June 29, 2023

Paying for housing remains a struggle, Honolulu rail CEO gets C-minus evaluation, Schatz, Haaland attend ceremony for new volcano observatory, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

It’s Actually More Expensive To Buy A Home In Hawaii These Days Than You Thought. Fewer than a third of households can afford to buy a single-family home and less than half can afford to buy a condo. The median rental price is unaffordable to a third of households. Civil Beat.

At a glance: Major takeaways from each county's budget. Affordable housing and sustainability were budgeted as top priorities for each county, however, tax relief measures and capital improvement projects were among the other expenditures mayors signed off on. Hawaii Public Radio.

A Struggle For Control Of Hawaii’s Beef Industry Is Playing Out On Safeway Shelves. Demand for beef is exceeding supply, but local producers are not seeing the returns. Civil Beat.

University of Hawaii Medical School Suspends Body Donation Program. The program director cited a shortage in international doctors flying in for surgical training, a decline that began during the coronavirus pandemic. Beginning July 11, the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine is temporarily halting a program that allows people to donate their bodies after death for anatomical studies. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.


Rail CEO receives ‘C-minus’ evaluation ahead of the project’s biggest milestone.  On the eve of the biggest milestone in the often-troubled history of Honolulu’s $9.8 billion rail project, Lori Kahikina,  the executive director and CEO of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation received a performance evaluation that she described as an overall “C-minus.” Star-Advertiser.

Red Hill repairs complete, task force says.  The military joint task force charged with defueling the massive underground fuel tanks at the Navy’s Red Hill facility announced Wednesday that it had successfully completed all repairs and modifications to the aging World War II-era facility the state Department of Health said the military must perform to safely begin draining the tanks. Star-Advertiser.

City fined $434K for bacteria exceedances at Kailua Bay. The state Health Department has fined the City and County of Honolulu $434,350 for discharging effluent exceeding permit limits for enterococci from its wastewater treatment plant into Kailua Bay. Star-Advertiser.

Evictions Creep Up On Oahu As Renters Face Waning Pandemic-Era Aid. High rents and overall inflation have contributed to an increase in evictions on Oahu after a lull amid a pandemic moratorium, with 703 evictions last year compared to 333 in 2020, according to the most recent data from the state Judiciary.  Civil Beat.

Green urged to intervene in Waiahole Valley leases. Waiahole Valley residents held a roadside demonstration Wednesday calling on Gov. Josh Green to intervene in a state agency’s effort to dramatically raise tenant land lease rents after 25 years of little or no increases. Star-Advertiser.

Plan B: State Turns To Pigs To Devour Oahu’s Invasive Beetle Problem. DOA Director Sharon Hurd has dubbed the scheme as “Plan B” for the almost decade-long fight to control the coconut rhinoceros beetle, which has the ability to decimate coconut palm populations.  Civil Beat.

Lawmakers, bars call for shake-up of liquor panel. A report criticizing the Honolulu Liquor Commission as understaffed — with workers struggling with low morale and doing inconsistent and ineffective enforcement of Oahu liquor laws — was met with calls for immediate change Wednesday. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Board extends time for public input on landfill.  The Honolulu Planning Commission took public testimony Wednesday on the city’s request for a two-year extension to find a replacement site for the nearly 40-year-old Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill in Kapolei, which is slated to close by 2028. Star-Advertiser.

State seeks to delist Falls of Clyde from Hawaii’s historic register.  The Hawaii Department of Transportation announced today it would seek to delist the Falls of Clyde from the Hawaii Register of Historic Places. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.  KITV4.

Hawaii Island

US Geological Survey To Get New Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. The site at University of Hawaii-Hilo Research Park will also be home to the USGS Pacific Islands Ecosystems Research Center. The grounds of a new Hilo facility to replace the severely damaged old Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory on the rim of the Kilauea Volcano caldera were blessed Wednesday in a ceremony attended by U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. Civil Beat.  Tribune-Herald.  Big Island Video News.  Big Island Now.  KHON2.

‘We are stewards of the land’: Alvarado assumes command at PTA. Community and stewardship of the land were as much topics of discussion as the training of soldiers Wednesday at the change of command ceremony at Pohakuloa Training Center.  Tribune-Herald.

Mayor’s Town Hall Draws A Crowd In Waikōloa. Public questions focused on evacuation routes for Kawaihae, brush fire safety, the delayed start date for Waikoloa Road improvements, short term vacation rentals, area parks, and other topics of local interest. Big Island Video News.


County tax surcharge moves closer to reality.  The council’s Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend approval of the measure, which would add a 0.5 percent surcharge to the state’s 4 percent GET, which is like a sales tax that is charged when residents buy products ranging from groceries to even a haircut. Maui News.

Līloa Dr. extension in Kīhei, Maui gets $25M in federal funds, two more roundabouts planned.
A federal grant of $25,000,000 has been secured for the Līloa Drive Phase I extension in Kīhei on Maui as part of Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America Agenda.  Maui Now.

Permanent speed limit reduction announced for part of Haleakalā Highway.  Speed is being reduced from 55 mph to 45 mph in the northbound direction in the vicinity of the North Firebreak Road Intersection near the Hāna Highway, between mile 0.20 and 0.70.  Maui Now.


Kauai’s electric utility gets its first shipment of locally-produced biodiesel.  The delivery of the local and affordable biodiesel is being hailed as a big step toward meeting the goal of 100% renewable energy statewide by 2045.  Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Kauaʻi vacation rental occupancy for May down 14% from a year ago.  The occupancy for Kauaʻi vacation rentals in May was 51.7%, which is down 1.1% from a year ago and 28.2% lower than May 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Kauai Now.

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