Friday, February 2, 2024

Lawmakers mull statewide vacation rental ban, HECO cleared to spend $190M to harden electric grid, money pouring in to campaign coffers, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

A Statewide Ban On Vacation Rentals? The Idea Is Gaining Steam After The Maui Fires. Lawmakers are considering making it easier for counties to do away with short-term rentals altogether. Currently, 5.5% or 30,000 of Hawaii’s 557,000 total housing units operate as short-term rentals, according to the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization’s “Hawaii Housing Factbook,” published in June. Civil Beat.

Hawaiian Electric Gets The Green Light On Its $190 Million Resiliency Plan To Harden The Grid. State energy regulators have given their conditional approval to a five-year, $190 million plan by Hawaiian Electric to retool some of the most vulnerable parts of its grid as the company looks to address wildfire dangers and other threats related to climate change. Civil Beat. Tribune-Herald.  KHON2.

Hawaiian Electric says to prepare for outages ahead of severe weather. Hawaiian Electric is urging customers to prepare ahead of time for the heavy rains and winds forecast to hit most of the state on Friday and Saturday. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian, Alaska leaders tout airline deal. The top executives of Hawaiian and Alaska airlines said their companies are moving forward on an upcoming merger that they characterized as pro-consumer and pro-competitive because it allows them to compete more effectively in an industry dominated by larger carriers Delta, United, American and Southwest, which together make up 80% of the U.S. market. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.

Should the state increase the unemployment compensation? Some said it’s needed to offset the high cost of living, especially after the Maui wildfires. Others fear it would only encourage apathy. KHON2.

Preschool subsidies expand to Hawaii families over income limit.
An estimated 2,000 more preschool children across the state are expected to receive early childhood education through subsidies made possible after the Legislature in 2023 increased funding to $50 million from $12 million to expand the “Preschool Open Doors” program, Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke announced Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers push back on state's $2M request to fight youth-led climate change lawsuit. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Karl Rhoads would rather see the money go toward implementing policies that reduce emissions. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hirono Posts Solid Fundraising Numbers In Reelection Bid. More than six months out from primary day, U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono has nearly $1.8 million in campaign cash and faces no Democrat in the Aug. 10 contest and a relatively unknown Republican in the Nov. 5 general election. Civil Beat.


Campaign Donations Roll In For Honolulu Mayor’s Reelection Bid. Mayor Rick Blangiardi received about $289,000 in campaign donations during the second half of last year, more than the combined total received by the five council members up for reelection in 2024. Civil Beat.

‘Big win’: City gets long-awaited federal funds to help build rail line to Kakaako. With the stroke of a pen, $744 million will be released to finish Honolulu’s rail system all the way to Kakaako. Mayor Rick Blangiardi signed an amended Full Funding Grant Agreement on Thursday. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Miske Defense Calls Key Government Witness A Career Criminal Who ‘Fooled Everybody’.
  A lieutenant of alleged Hawaii crime boss Michael J. Miske Jr. was an oxycodone addict who sold methamphetamine while on federal probation and working as an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, defense attorneys established Thursday. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Removal Of Buildings Underway At Summit Of Kīlauea Volcano.  Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is preparing to demolish the landmark Jaggar Museum. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video NewsBig Island Now.

Hilo rezoning request draws opposition from neighbors. The Windward Planning Commission on Thursday discussed, but made no decision regarding, a proposal by Big Island developers to rezone a property at the corner of Manono and Lanikaula streets to allow for the construction of an approximately 5,000-square-foot one-story building to be used for unspecified retail purposes. Tribune-Herald.


Maui Has Yet To Launch A Covid-Era Housing Program That Could Provide $24 Million In Relief To Fire Survivors. County council members want the Bissen administration to take advantage of the federal money before it's too late.  Civil Beat.

A popular tavern becomes the first business to reopen on Lahaina’s main street. Mala Ocean Tavern is the first business on Front Street to reopen after the devastating fires nearly six months ago. Front Street is known as “ground zero” because most of the businesses on the famous street in Lahaina were destroyed. Hawaii News Now.

Maui County officials unveil three potential permanent Lahaina debris disposal sites
. Two West Maui locations and the Central Maui Landfill are under consideration as permanent disposal sites for an estimated 400,000 cubic yards of ash and debris to be removed from Lahaina wildfire burn zones. Maui Now.

Maui visitor arrivals up to highest levels in five months; December spending down. Maui visitor arrivals were up in December to the highest levels in the nearly five months since the August Lahaina wildfire disaster, according to preliminary statistics from the Hawaiʻi Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. However, the month’s Valley Isle arrivals of were 24.8% less than December 2022 and 28.7% less than December 2019. Maui Now.


West Kauaʻi to address pollution at Kīkīaola Small Boat Harbor in settlement with community groups. Community groups Nā Ki‘ai Kai and Surfrider Foundation, represented by nonprofit environmental law organization Earthjustice, have settled with the County of Kauaʻi and the Department of Health to clean up pollution from drainage ditches discharging into the ocean along West Kaua‘i, including the Kīkīaola Small Boat Harbor. Kauai Now. KITV4.

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