Friday, March 29, 2024

Population exodus costing the state millions, Hawaiian-Alaska airlines' merger delayed, finalists named for Aloha Stadium contract, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Exodus of Hawaii residents cost the state $185 million in tax revenue. Department of Taxation researcher Seth Colby reported the state lost $185 million in general excise and income taxes, about $61.8 million a year, because thousands of residents moved away.  KITV4.

Deals abound as Hawaii tourism remains soft. The daily count of visitors in Hawaii and their daily spending dropped in February — the seventh monthly decline in a row since the Aug. 8 Maui wildfires, according to preliminary statistics released Thursday by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.

DOJ wants more time, information on Hawaiian, Alaska merger. Antitrust regulators want more time to review Alaska Airlines’ proposed takeover of Hawaiian Airlines. According to stock filings by the carriers, they’ve agreed to extend by another 90-days the Department of Justice’s window to scrutinize the merger.  KHON2.

Bill moving through Legislature aims to increase densities in urban areas. Hawaii’s urban housing density could more than triple under a new zoning proposal sailing through the state Legislature. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaiʻi Democrats release verified vote count of party presidential primary and pledged delegate allocation. On March 16 and March 23, 2024, the Party-run Presidential Primary Committee of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i met at the Party HQ, located in Honolulu, to recount the votes cast at the caucus style 2024 PPP held at 57 locations statewide on Wednesday, March 6, 2024. Maui Now.

Legacy of Patsy Mink celebrated with new U.S. quarter. U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) on Thursday announced the official release of the Patsy T. Mink quarter, which is part of the U.S. Mint’s American Women Quarters Program for 2024. Tribune-Herald. Maui Now.


Finalists selected for Aloha Stadium district contract. Two teams were announced Thursday as finalists for the job of developing, building, operating and maintaining the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District, or NASED. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.

HECO could be fined for power outages in Mililani meant to prevent wildfires. The Commission continues to closely monitor HECO’s performance to ensure that electrical services are safely and reliably provided to customers. These outages may be counted against HECO’s reliability performance and subject to financial penalties at the end of the year, a Public Utilities Commission spokeswoman said. KHON2.

Emails At Bribery Trial Show Alleged ‘Courtship’ Between Mitsunaga And Kaneshiro Reps. After former Honolulu prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro and businessman Dennis Mitsunaga met in 2012, they developed a relationship that involved lunch at an upscale Honolulu restaurant, a New Year’s party and numerous chummy emails exchanged between their representatives, according to testimony and evidence presented to a jury on Thursday.  Civil Beat.

Red Hill defueling task force ends mission.
Two years after the Pentagon agreed it would remove fuel from its underground Red Hill fuel storage facility and shut it down, the military task force charged with removing fuel stored in the Navy’s underground Red Hill facility has officially concluded its mission. Star-Advertiser. Associated Press.  Hawaii News Now.

The Job Of Preserving Oahu’s Historic Sites Is Complicated By The Push For Development. The island's new historic preservation commission takes on a 'gargantuan' and controversial task. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Buildings in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park damaged during 2018 eruption set for dismantling. The National Park Service said Thursday that the former Jaggar Museum and two buildings used by the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory – the Okamura Building and the Geochemistry Annex – will be dismantled starting Monday, April 8. Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.

Laʻaloa Bay Beach Park reopens unveiling signage, walkways, protective buffer for cultural sites. Laʻaloa Bay Beach Park in Kailua-Kona reopened Thursday after several months of renovating the space, including reducing the size of the original parking lot and realigning rock walls to establish a protective buffer around the Haukālua Heiau and other culturally significant features. Big Island Now.

A glut of puppies: Shelters work to find homes for increasing number of young dogs. Cute faces mask a sad story as animal shelters in Hawaii County continue to take in dozens of  mixed-breed puppies every month. Tribune-Herald.


Maui’s Housing Crisis Only Got Worse After The Fires. Will This New Department Help? The Department of Housing is scheduled to launch July 1, and not a moment too soon with the destruction of about 5,700 homes in the Aug. 8 wildfires pushing rent and home prices to new heights and forcing some residents to sleep in cars and tents or leave the island. Civil Beat.

State buys former Maui Sun Hotel from Haggai Institute for fire survivor and workforce housing. The newly renamed Hale ʻO Lāʻie has 175 guest rooms in its current configuration. Maui Now.

OHA Kanaaho Grant aimed at providing relief to Native Hawaiian Lahaina and Kula residents affected by wildfire. Under the program, a one-time $9,000 grant can be awarded to eligible homeowners who experienced hardship; and a one-time $4,000 grant can be awarded to eligible renters who experienced hardship. Maui Now. KITV4.

Lahaina group seeks phase-out of vacation rentals. 
Members of Lahaina Strong flew to the state Capitol on Thursday for the second time this legislative session to urge passage of either of two House and Senate companion bills that would give counties the option to phase out short-term vacation rentals on their islands. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.


Coco Palms restoration underway.
Reef Capital Partners, which acquired the Coco Palms following the previous owner defaulting on its loan, announced the start of the removal of the dilapidated hotel structures as part of the restoration of Coco Palms following more than three decades of inaction by prior owners. Garden Island.

Escaped Kauai Inmate Dies In Alleged Hit-And-Run Incident.
The Hawaii Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on Thursday announced that an escaped inmate on the Garden Island died from injuries sustained in an alleged hit-and-run. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.  Kauai Now.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Green projects rosier state budget, no ban on Maui vacation rentals; Senate advances $19B supplemental budget, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Rosier state budget picture projected by Gov. Green. Gov. Josh Green reassured the public and Hawaii’s Legislature on Wednesday that Maui wildfire response and recovery expenses shouldn’t overwhelm state finances. Star-Advertiser.

Governor’s spending plan for the State
. The governor’s latest spending plan for the State includes skipping a $300 million deposit into the state’s retirement and benefit trust fund. KHON2.

Hawaii Senate Committee’s Spending Plan Includes Hundreds Of Millions For Maui Fire Costs. Senators also gave preliminary approval to a $19 billion supplemental budget bill to pay for state government operations for the coming year year. Civil Beat.

State Digital Equity Plan approved. The Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration accepted Hawaii’s 293-page Digital Equity Plan on Tuesday after it underwent federal review. Star-Advertiser.


DPP launches more tech to speed permit process. To solve the months-long delay to obtain a building permit, the city Department of Planning and Permitting announced new technological initiatives it hopes will improve the speed at which the city issues them to the public. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Attorney for alleged victim takes stand in bribery trial against former city prosecutor. There were fireworks on day four of a bribery trial against ex-city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro and campaign donors from a high-profile engineering firm. Hawaii News Now.

EPA’s integrity is questioned for withholding Red Hill tests. In early March the Navy notified the Environmental Protection Agency that it had detected “unvalidated test results” finding high levels of total petroleum |hydrocarbons, or TPH, in water samples taken from an on-base school and a home in the Aliamanu Military Reservation — both of which had their water systems flushed. Star-Advertiser.

HECO apologizes after new safety measures leave thousands of Mililani residents in the dark.  Hawaiian Electric Company recently made changes to improve safety in areas with a wildfire risk, such as Mililani. However, for residents, that has meant more power outages within the last month. Hawaii News Now.

New Rule Helps Hawaii’s Agriculture Department Stop The Spread Of Little Fire Ants. The interim rules have been signed by the Department of Agriculture in a bid to curb the spread of the stinging ants on Oahu. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Merrie Monarch Festival clinches top spot in USA Today’s list of best cultural celebrations. The Merrie Monarch Festival has been voted as USA Today’s Best Cultural Festival in the nation. A panel of experts put together the list of 20 exceptional nominees. Hawaii News Now.

Legal battle brewing after house built on wrong HPP lot.
A woman who purchased a vacant lot in Puna was surprised to find out a $500,000 house was built on the property by mistake. Associated Press.

Hawai‘i Army National Guard Dedicates New Facility In Hilo.  The new Combined Support Maintenance Shop #2 facility at the Keaukaha Military Reservation was celebrated on Wednesday. Big Island Video News.


No need for ban on short-term rentals in West Maui, Gov. Green says. There will be no need for a ban on short-term rentals in West Maui to get the remaining 3,109 survivors of the Aug. 8 wildfires out of hotels and into long-term housing, Gov. Josh Green said Wednesday ahead of what could have been a moratorium starting Monday. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Associated Press. Maui Now.  KHON2.  KITV4.

Maui to receive $35 Million in federal funding for senior housing. The Hawai’i Public Housing Authority will receive more than $35 million in federal funding to rebuild and restore federal public housing facilities that were damaged and destroyed during the Maui fires last year, according to a press release from senator Brian Schatz. Maui News.

How Much Should People Know About A School’s Safety Plan? The Department of Education is at odds with the teachers union and some Lahaina parents over how much information the public should have access to when it comes to safety plans. Civil Beat.


Community groups reach legal settlement with KIUC, state on West Kaua‘i hydro project. In a settlement reached between West Kauaʻi community groups, the State, and Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative, the utility has agreed to withdraw its environmental assessment and “finding of no significant impact” for its proposed hydro project called the West Kauaʻi Energy Project. Kauai Now.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Governor's green fee dies in Senate, Board of Education to get new leader, Honolulu council delays gift ban bill, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

The Senate Just Killed Green’s Plan For A Climate Fee For Visitors. For a third consecutive year, state lawmakers have chosen to not pass a fee that would be charged mainly to tourists to better manage and protect Hawaii’s fragile environment, which remains under heavy strain from constant foot and vehicular traffic and under siege by invasive species.  Civil Beat.

Hawaii Governor Appoints Dozens To Powerful Hawaii Boards And Commissions. They include the UH Board of Regents and authorities with jurisdiction over land use, public utilities, education, housing and community development. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Board Of Education To Get New Leader For The Third Time In 2 Years. The Senate is being asked to confirm seven picks for the 11-member board, including  former state lawmaker Roy Takumi to replace Warren Haruki as BOE chair. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.

Governor Names Four To Mauna Kea Stewardship, Oversight Authority. Four appointments to the Mauna Kea Stewardship and Oversight Authority were announced by Governor Josh Green on Sunday.  Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.

Rules that help set real estate agent commissions could soon change in Hawaii. A $418-million lawsuit settlement against the National Association of Realtors could lead to a drop in costs for buying and selling a home in Hawaii. KITV4.

BAC measure dies again.
Legislation that would reduce the threshold for drunken driving from 0.08% blood alcohol content to 0.05% is dead for this year. Tribune-Herald.

Shaka inches closer to becoming the official state gesture. Senate Bill 3312 and its companion House Bill 2736 would establish the shaka as the first “state gesture” of the United States, in part as an effort to claim the familiar — and merchandisable — symbol for Hawaii before others get there first. Tribune-Herald.


Council delays gift ban bill for city workers. The draft measure, materializing after corruption scandals at city agencies including inside the Honolulu Police Department and the city Department of Planning and Permitting, would prohibit gifts to the mayor, prosecuting attorney, Council members, city administration officers or any person employed by the city. Star-Advertiser.

City Council opposes state bill to allow more dwelling units on residential properties.
On Monday the council formally approved a resolution opposing SB3202 and its now-dead House companion bill, which would allow up to two additional dwelling units on residential properties in urban areas.  Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Island

Hilo gun rights advocate George Young dies at 74.
George K. Young Jr., a retired U.S. Army Ranger master sergeant and Vietnam War veteran whose decade-long legal battle resulted in the feds ruling Hawaii’s counties must issue concealed-carry gun permits to law-abiding citizens, died March 19 at home in Hilo.  Tribune-Herald.

Narcan vending machines pop up islandwide as Hawai‘i Island Fentanyl Task Force battles rise in opioid overdoses. For the past few years, Hawai’i County leaders and community partners have been working to get Narcan, also known as naloxone, into the hands of the public as a way to combat the growing opioid crisis and rise in fentanyl, where one fatal overdose is occurring every seven days on Hawai’i Island, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Big Island Now.


Governor to announce plan to house Lahaina survivors.  Gov. Josh Green today plans to outline how he intends to house displaced Maui wildfire survivors days ahead of a rally and march by a Lahaina group to urge Green to use his emergency powers to force owners of West Maui short-term vacation rentals to house evacuees. Star-Advertiser.

$35M in federal funds to help rebuild Maui public housing. The Hawaii Public Housing Authority will receive more than $35 million in federal funding to rebuild low-­income, public and senior housing that was destroyed during the Aug. 8 Maui fires. Star-Advertiser.

Sugimura requests financial analysis of proposed water source development in Kula. Council Member Yuki Lei Sugimura has requested a financial analysis of a potential water source development agreement between the County of Maui and Free Market Ventures, LLC. Maui Now.

Kaiser Permanente to open new temporary modular clinic in West Maui. A new temporary modular health clinic will open its doors in West Maui on Thursday. The clinic will be located at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and run between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Hawaii Public Radio.


Hale Halawai ‘Ohana O Hanalei to manage $7,285,000 for flood mitigation. A nonprofit organization with deep roots in the North Shore of Kaua‘i is being tasked with administering and distributing a flood mitigation grant. Garden Island. Kauai Now.

Public invited to open house at Kaua‘i District Health Office. The free event will take place on April 5 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the district office located at 3040 Umi St. in Līhuʻe.  Kauai Now.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Senate panel faults utilities commission for failing to investigate Maui wildfire cause, EPA completes Red Hill inspection, half of Kauai waters tested show fecal presence, electricity shortage on Big Island, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Lawmakers say PUC 'failed to investigate' causes of Maui wildfires. A resolution put forward by state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz says the Public Utilities Commission has failed to effectively investigate the causes of the August 2023 Maui wildfires. The resolution says that the PUC is bound by law to investigate the causes of any accident related to the operations of Hawaiʻi's utilities "which results in loss of life."  Hawaii Public Radio.

DBEDT establishes Military and Community Relations Office. The Hawai‘i Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism has established a Military and Community Relations Office which will focus on effective collaboration and transparency between the State of Hawai‘i, county governments, the community and the US Department of Defense. Maui Now.

DHHL waitlisters to benefit from new down payment assistance program. The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has partnered with homestead nonprofit, Hawaiian Lending & Investments, to provide direct assistance to beneficiaries looking to construct, or purchase, a home on Hawaiian Home Lands. Maui Now. KHON2.


City to pay $12.5M to Makaha crash driver. The city agreed to pay $12.5 million to the driver of a car that crashed in September 2021 in Makaha during a pursuit by Honolulu police officers who allegedly left the scene only to return and act like nothing happened. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Proposed Council raises draw public concern. The Honolulu Salary Commission’s recommendation last week for a 3% or greater pay boost for the mayor, managing director, all nine members of the City Council and other appointed, high-level city officials drew a measure of public criticism Monday. Star-Advertiser.

EPA completes Red Hill inspection, says Navy task force ready to take over shutdown.  The EPA says Joint Task Force Red Hill is ready to let the Navy take over the shutdown of the bulk fuel storage facility. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board discussed East Honolulu beach park closures. Several Hawaii Kai residents showed up at the neighborhood board meeting concerned about the possibility of overnight park closures at all beaches in their area. KITV4.

Model arrested in bribery, obstruction case.
A model was arrested after she tried to bribe a federal agent to help convince a judge to let her boyfriend out of Honolulu’s Federal Detention Center while he awaits trial on ammunition charges. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Hawaiian Electric: ‘Tight supply of electricity’ on the Big Island through April. Company spokeswoman Kristin Okinaka said the energy provider’s largest independent power producer, Hamakua Energy, has gone offline, leaving the power grid with a significant deficit of power. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.  Big Island Now.  KITV4.

Grassroots group is concerned about high volume of people visiting beaches in Keaukaha. Volunteers with Waiʻuli We Count, a grassroots-led data collection effort, said more  than a million people enjoy the beach parks in the coastal community of Keaukaha on Hawaiʻi Island every year. Hawaii Public Radio.

State Is Moving Ahead With Wailoa Harbor Dredging Project After Receiving Funding.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources said in a news release Monday that it has wanted to dredge the harbor for several years but it didn’t receive funding to do so until last year’s legislative session. The funds were released in January. Civil Beat. Big Island Now.

Hilo Travelers Advised To Plan Ahead For Merrie Monarch Festival. The 61st annual Merrie Monarch Festival will begin on Easter Sunday (March 31) and continue until Saturday, April 6.  Big Island Video News.


Maui Mayor Unveils $1.7 Billion Budget To Help County Navigate ‘Daunting Journey’ Ahead. Mayor Richard Bissen delivered his $1.7 billion proposed spending plan for fiscal year 2025 to the Maui County Council on Monday, a 34% increase over the current budget due to the ongoing recovery from the destructive Aug. 8 fires. Civil Beat. Maui Now.  KITV4.

New Deputy Planning Director named by county. Ana Lillis, a former planner in the Zoning Administration and Enforcement Division, has been named Deputy Director of the County of Maui Department of Planning. Lillis’ official start date is April 1, according to a press release. Maui News.

Waihou Spring Forest Reserve reopens to public following damage from August fires. The damage has kept crews busy at the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife over the last seven months. Hawaii Public Radio. Maui News.

Temporary school called ‘small miracle’ after Lahaina fire. Glancing at the new temporary school on a grassy slope in Pulelehua, Maui, casual onlookers might perceive a simple cluster of boxy modular buildings hurriedly erected in just over three months, but Gov. Josh Green calls the school’s rapid construction “a small miracle” in the wake of a disaster, and he and others also see the beginnings of healing and hope. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.  Hawaii News Now.  

Shrine symbolizes healing and unity for Maui students.  It took serious coordination for students from H.P. Baldwin High School and King Kekaulike High School to lift and carry a “mikoshi,” or portable shrine, on their shoulders through the streets of Waikiki as part of the recent Honolulu Festival’s Grand Parade. Star-Advertiser.

FEMA Gave This Family A House In The Lahaina Burn Zone. Then They Found Out It Might Not Be Safe. Randy Dadez says the agency moved his family into a house that Maui County's map clearly shows lacks clean water. Civil Beat.

Bidding price expected to take centerstage as companies vie for rural air service contract. Multiple airlines are bidding for the federal contract to provide service to one of Hawaii’s rural communities. Hawaii News Now.


Half of Kauai’s tested waters polluted. A monthly analysis of streams, rivers and surf spots across the island found high concentrations of enterococcus bacterium, a federally recognized indicator of fecal presence in water, at a number of locations. Garden Island.

Historic $7.3M grant awarded to nonprofit Hale Halawai ʻOhana O Hanale dedicated to North Shore flood mitigation projects. The Hale Halawai ʻOhana O Hanalei, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to serving Kauaʻi’s north shore community will take on the role of administering and distributing an unprecedented grant through the Kauaʻi Emergency Management Agency. Kauai Now.

Kauaʻi inmate seriously injured in a hit-and-run soon after his escape from jail. An inmate's escape on Kauaʻi was short-lived when a vehicle hit him as he was running away on a highway early Friday, authorities said. Hawaii Public Radio.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Senators target Hawaii energy office for defunding, state mulls catastrophic insurance, litigation, investigations ramp up in Maui wildfire aftermath, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

State senators target Hawaii State Energy Office. A state agency directing Hawaii energy policy in areas including security, resiliency and environmental health is at risk of losing its independence. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio.

The Clock Is Ticking For Hawaii To Commit Its Remaining Federal Coronavirus Funds. The state of Hawaii and the counties have until the end of the year to obligate up to $400 million in federal funds meant to alleviate the impacts of Covid-19 and support economic recovery, or face returning it.  Civil Beat.

Free Summer School Programs In Hawaii Face Uncertain Future. As federal coronavirus funding expires, the Hawaii Department of Education must make the case for continued investments in summer learning. Civil Beat.

State-run Reinsurance To Cover Catastrophic Events In Hawaiʻi. House Bill 2056 would create State Reinsurance Exploratory Working Group to gather information and find solutions. Big Island Video News.

Macadamia Nut Country of Origin Labeling Bill Advances In Hawaiʻi Legislature. The proposed bill moving through the Hawaiʻi State House requires the country of origin to be included on the principal display panel on a package of processed macadamia nuts. Big Island Video News.

Hawaii Prison Officials Hope A New Women’s Wellness Center Will Reduce Recidivism.
The Women's Prison Project is raising $85,000 for a wellness center at the prison that is expected to improve quality of life for incarcerated women. Civil Beat.

UH moves toward an ‘indigenous-serving’ institution model. A year and four months after the University of Hawaii Board of Regents approved a strategic plan that in part calls for UH to “fulfill kuleana to Native Hawaiians and Hawaii,” officials are preparing to select an administrator to implement that “imperative” across the 10-campus system, and meanwhile launching a two-year cultural initiative on the flagship Manoa campus. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now.


Illegal ‘Straw’ Donations Spotlighted By Mitsunaga Case Are Rarely Prosecuted. Lurking in the background of an alleged conspiracy to bribe Honolulu’s prosecutor is a separate but related issue: donations made under a false name to circumvent campaign limits. Civil Beat.

Office space conversions fuel $1B downtown Honolulu investment cycle. The lights are brighter in downtown Honolulu where post-­pandemic changes to work and lifestyle patterns are fueling an investment cycle that is expected to deliver at least 15 new projects valued at about $1 billion over the next five to seven years. Star-Advertiser.

New pedestrian walkway in Ala Moana connected after 2 years of construction. After nearly two years of construction, both sides of Hawaii’s newest elevated pedestrian walkway are finally connected over Ala Moana Boulevard. Hawaii News Now.

Land Board votes unanimously to protect crumbling Windward coastal highway.
The state transportation department will build a 400-foot-long rock revetment along Kamehameha Highway between Ka’a’awa Beach Park and the elementary school. Hawaii News Now.

Emergency Room Closure In Wahiawa Magnifies A Capacity Crunch. As emergency rooms filled with patients, Honolulu's head of emergency services was tasked with coordinating ambulance arrivals. Civil Beat.

Oʻahu residents living in flood zones are asked to participate in survey
. About 25,000 households on Oʻahu are in flood-risk areas, and the City and County of Honolulu wants to see how prepared residents are for possible floods. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Island

Roth offers State of the County. To combat the rising costs of housing, healthcare, and daily essentials Mayor Mitch Roth announced during the State of the County address his plan to ask the Hawai‘i County Council to decrease property taxes based on a close examination of the county budget. West Hawaii Today. Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now.

‘Safe Space’ draws concerns: Residents, lawmaker worried about impact of homeless camp on area. A state lawmaker has joined some Hilo residents in their concerns about a planned government-sanctioned homeless encampment near the Hilo Lagoon Center. Tribune-Herald.

Alternative Chosen For Pāhoa Library, Mass Transit Hub. The Preferred Alternative is the lot that is located at the northwest corner of Pāhoa Village Road and Kahakai Boulevard. Big Island Video News.

Work on Lanikaula Street to begin in May. Hawaii County Department of Public Works spokeswoman Sherise Kanae-Kane said a $5 million project to improve about 1,800 feet of Lanikaula Street between Kilauea Avenue and Manono Street will begin in May and continue through February 2025, weather permitting. Tribune-Herald.

Glenwood Transfer Station to close March 25 through May 15. The Glenwood Transfer Station will close on March 25 for construction activities, according to the County of Hawai‘i Department of Environmental Management’s Solid Waste Division. Big Island Now.


Lawmakers Want Utility Regulators To Conduct Their Own Fire Probe.
Some legislators want an independent investigation because the state and Maui County are both involved in litigation over the August fires. Civil Beat.

Maui County attorneys request state subpoenas to manage fire response probe. Maui County attorneys say they have requested subpoenas to work with investigators hired by the state to assess governments’ response to the Aug. 8 wildfires, which killed 101 people, because the investigators have failed to follow realistic and respectful practices for gathering information.  Star-Advertiser.

Council advances eminent domain land condemnation for Central Maui Landfill expansion. Maui County Council members moved quickly Friday morning to give the first of two approvals for the county to launch eminent domain condemnation proceedings in 2nd Circuit Court.  Maui Now.

County Council Vice-Chair to host Meeting on Wednesday. Councilmember Yuki Lei Sugimura will host a community meeting on March 27th at the Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center in Pukalani from 6 to 8 p.m. The focus of the meeting will be on a potential water source development agreement between the County of Maui and Free Market Ventures, LLC.  Maui News.


Someone planted non-native coral at ‘Anini Beach; DAR relies on community to report fishy goings-on. All is not well in the waters off ‘Anini Beach on the North Shore of Kaua‘i, where a three-year-old mystery with calamitous potential continues to baffle those tasked with conserving the area ecosystem. Kauai Now.

Bathrooms’ restoration springs up in Hanalei. Spring cleaning kicked off early for one Kaua‘i resident whose “labor of love” can be seen in Hanalei. Garden Island.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Legislature could allow more houses on smaller lots, fund proposed to shield HECO from lawsuits, 4 Hawaii newspapers part of bankruptcy sale, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Bills propose more housing on smaller lots. The legislation aims to override county zoning for minimum lot sizes so that multiple homes can be built on lots as small as 2,000 square feet, compared with common minimum lot sizes of 3,500 to 10,000 square feet typically for one house.  Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers consider creation of fund to shield HECO, others from future fire-related suits. While facing potentially billions of dollars in damages from the Maui wildfire, Hawaiian Electric is proposing a $1 billion fund to pay for damages from a future fire catastrophe. Hawaii News Now.

Designer is commissioned to convert state Capitol pools to waterless feature. The long-troublesome reflecting pools at the state Capitol will be permanently dried up and converted to an artistic landscape with elements resembling water from around Hawaii designed by Native Hawaiian artist Solomon Enos. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio. 

Would a clean fuel standard help Hawaiʻi reduce transportation emissions? Hawaiʻi lawmakers are looking at another way to clean up transportation by lowering the amount of carbon in the fuel itself. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii newspapers part of bankruptcy sale. Carpenter Media Group announced the completion of its acquisition of U.S. and Canadian publisher Black Press Media in a stock purchase together with Canadian financial partners Canso Investment Counsel Ltd. and Deans Knight Ltd. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.


Honolulu Council alarmed over state’s urban density bills.  At a special meeting Thursday morning of the Council’s Committee on Planning and the Economy, the panel voted to recommend passage of Resolution 65 — introduced by Chair Tommy Waters and Vice Chair Esther Kia‘aina — to express “strong concerns” relating to these active “urban density bills” and the potential for unchecked housing development on Oahu. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.  KITV4.

Day 2 Kaneshiro, Mitsunaga trial: Government calls on former Mitsunaga employees. Trial continues for former Honolulu Prosecutor, Keith Kaneshiro, and former businessman, Dennis Mitsunaga, and his associates. KHON2.

Salary commission recommends raise for medical examiner — the city's highest paid employee. The Honolulu Salary Commission wants to give the city’s chief medical examiner a $400,000 salary for the next fiscal year — and a similar salary to the deputy medical examiner. Hawaii Public Radio.

Racetrack, landfill top the concerns as new round of Honolulu mayor's town hall sessions begins. A packed house greeted Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi at Kapolei High School as he kicked off a second year of town halls being held across Oahu. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Potential landfill in central Oahu draws criticism, while space for one is limited. The Land Use Commission told city officials they have until 2028 to shut down Waimanalo Gulch landfill in West Oahu after it grew in size and raised concerns from Leeward coast residents. KHON2.

Hawaii Ethics Commission Fines Former Athletics Director Glenn Nitta $274K. The largest administrative fee ever levied by the Hawaii State Ethics Commission stems from allegations of theft and embezzlement of funds belonging to the Mililani High School Athletic Booster Club. Civil Beat. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Investigation underway into cause of fire at Pahoa restaurant. The Hawaii County Fire Department is investigating the cause of a blaze that burned through a popular eatery in Pahoa on Tuesday night. Hawaii News Now.


Bill to establish Lele Community District Board expected to stall in state House. A controversial bill to establish a nine-member Lele Community District Board for decision-making in rebuilding Lahaina has passed the state Senate, but it will not advance in the House, according to West Maui Rep. Elle Cochran. Maui Now.

A Number Of Investigations Have Been Launched Into The Maui Fires. Investigations into the causes of the Maui wildfires are entering a new phase, as government officials prepare to release reports in April and lawyers for fire victims accelerate their own inquiries previously stalled in the face of procedural maneuvers by defendants. Civil Beat.

Reports of respiratory issues near Lahaina burn zone put new spotlight on air quality monitoring. There is growing concern about air quality in West Maui following reports of respiratory issues plaguing some people downwind of the Lahaina burn zone. Hawaii News Now.

Planned housing site for fire survivors spurs concerns about runoff, drainage. Some Kahului residents fear a future housing site for fire survivors will make their drainage problems worse. They are calling on county officials to fix the issue to prevent a flooding disaster. Hawaii News Now.

1,600-unit Hoʻonani Village affordable rental housing project gets an early preview.  Members of the Maui County Council’s Housing and Land Use Committee received a presentation Wednesday on conceptual plans for the 1,600-unit Hoʻonani Village multifamily rental and commercial complex in Puʻunēnē. Maui Now. KITV4.

April 9 is deadline to appeal 2024 Real Property Assessment. The County of Maui Real Property Assessment Division encourages property owners to carefully review the 2024 real property assessment notices that were delivered to property owners last week. Maui Now.


The Hawaii DOE Has Defaulted On Rent Owed To Another State Agency. The Department of Education has been planning to build a "mega kitchen" that would eventually go to the Agribusiness Development Corp. But it has yet to pay the security deposit. Civil Beat.

Kaua‘i County Council approves development plan to grow affordable housing in Kapa‘a. Kaua‘i County Council unanimously approved a proposed plan to redevelop an affordable housing community in Kapa‘a, which is expected to grow the inventory from 36 to more than 100 homes for kamaʻāina. Kauai Now.

Single-family home price tops $1.4 million on Kaua‘i. A woozy housing market that couldn’t find its footing last year appears to be on firmer ground in 2024, as evidenced by stronger sales and loftier home prices. Garden Island.

Hawai‘i Tourism Authority releases February Hotel Performance Report. The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority has announced that revenue per available room for Kaua‘i hotels increased nearly 9% in February, when compared to the same month last year, in line with the upward trend the agency has reported for the state as a whole.  Kauai Now.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Senate committee saves arts funding, lawmaker who led same-sex marriage opposition apologizes, Kaneshiro bribery trial begins, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Senate committee defers measure that would have slashed arts funding. A Senate committee on Tuesday killed a bill that would have drastically overhauled how a state arts agency receives funding from the percent-for-art law that requires 1% of construction or renovation costs from state buildings to go to the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, an agency that runs the public museum and arts programs. Hawaii Public Radio.

Teacher Harassment Bill Dies In Senate Committee.  The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday deferred a bill that would have strengthened protections against the harassment of school workers after the Hawaii Department of Education proposed creating a code of conduct for families instead. Civil Beat.

Bill To Fund Geothermal Energy Exploration Advances. SB 2518 SD2 HD1 would appropriate funds for the Hawaiʻi State Energy Office “to conduct a statewide environmental assessment for, and subsequently administer, a geothermal resources characterization program under the direction of the Hawaiʻi Groundwater and Geothermal Resources Center at the University of Hawaiʻi.”  Big Island Video News.

Bill Allows Ag Officials To Enter Leased Property For Invasive Species. A bill that would allow Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture officials to enter leased property to address invasive species is moving through the State Legislature. Big Island Video News.

After change of heart, lawmaker who led charge against same-sex marriage apologizes
. A well-known Hawaii lawmaker who spent his career fighting to stop same-sex marriage has issued a public apology, saying his views have evolved. State Sen. Mike Gabbard was one of the leaders who passed the constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage in 1998. Hawaii News Now.

Emergency Aeromedical Services Cost-Sharing Bill Advances In House. Officials say the effort will address a pivotal step towards addressing a critical gap in Hawaiʻi's healthcare delivery system.  Big Island Video News.

Spring break tourists flocking to Hawaii, but hotel occupancy remains below pre-COVID levels. The tourism industry is lowering expectations for spring break. Hotels have seen a boost in occupancy — between 70% to 80% — but that’s still below the 90% mark that was typical for spring break before the pandemic. Hawaii News Now.

1 of the few remaining survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor has died at 102. Richard C. “Dick” Higgins, one of the few remaining survivors of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, has died, a family member said Wednesday. He was 102. Hawaii News Now.


Kaneshiro, Mitsunaga federal bribery trial begins. Political donor Dennis Mitsunaga, his associates and family members contributed $48,250 in campaign funds to then-­Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro as Kaneshiro’s office pursued a criminal case against a fired Mitsunaga employee who later sued the company for discrimination, the U.S. Attorney’s office said Wednesday on the opening day of the federal bribery trial of Kaneshiro, Mitsunaga and four of Mitsunaga’s employees. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.  KHON2.

HPD opens officer-involved manslaughter investigation. The Honolulu Police Department has opened a manslaughter investigation involving two officers after a 77-year-old man died from injuries suffered during a late-December arrest for an alleged moped theft. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.

Oahu’s long-term urban growth plan advances.
The Honolulu Planning Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to adopt changes meant to revise, repeal and update aspects of the city’s primary urban center development plan encompassing almost 448,700 people and over 177,380 housing units, on an island that’s home to nearly 990,000 residents. Star-Advertiser.

Nurses at Kapiolani Medical Center working without contracts due to ongoing negotiations. Nurses have been working without a contract since Dec. 1 and held a one-week strike in January. KHON2. Star-Advertiser.

Company fined for breaking rules while filming at Kaiwi. State conservation officials have cited Bumper Productions LLC for violating park rules and causing damage while taping “Rescue:HI Surf,” a reality series, at Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline last month.  Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Extends Comment Period On Summit Plan. The comment period on the Kilauea Summit Area and Corridor Management Plan will now be open for the entire month of March. Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.


Council committee hears more on eminent domain proposal for landfill expansion. After hearing impassioned pleas Tuesday from Lahaina wildfire survivors for quick action on a proposed eminent domain condemnation, Maui County Council members struggled to pin down the property owner on what it would take, or cost, for the county to acquire the nearly 20-acre quarry for final disposal of toxic ash and debris. Maui Now.

SBA Disaster Loan Outreach Center to Close in Kahului. The Small Business Administration announced it will close its Kahului Disaster Loan Outreach Center located at the Kahului Public Library at 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 23. Maui Now.

A New Delay For These Lahaina Fire Survivors Could Scramble Plans To Leave FEMA Hotels Behind. Mario Siatris and U‘i Kahue-Cabanting have lined up a trailer as a creative temporary housing solution while they wait to rebuild Mario's home. But assembly delays threaten to complicate its overseas shipment date. Civil Beat.

Native Hawaiians aim to bring cultural sensitivity to Maui wildfire cleanup. Along with this cultural liaison work, several indigenous groups are providing cultural monitors to work alongside the cleanup crews through an $18.7 million contract with the Corps, an effort local residents advocated for after the fires.  Hawaii Public Radio.

These volunteers are rebuilding Lahaina’s watershed, one native plant at a time. After the Maui wildfire disaster last August, the restoration of water and native plants has become a top priority. Hawaii News Now.


Judge orders luxury Kauaʻi vacation condo project to pause construction.
Last week, a judge ordered a 10-day work stoppage for the Kauanoe O Kōloa project, a 279-unit development that has received backlash from members of the Native Hawaiian community. Hawaii Public Radio.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Recreational marijuana bill advances despite testimony from Lingle and others, another pay raise for Honolulu officials, Sen. Rhoads reports death threats after anti-Trump social media post, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Lingle joins recreational-cannabis debate in rare public stance. Former Gov. Linda Lingle testified for the first time before the state Legislature on Tuesday since leaving political office in 2010 and took a high-profile, political stance urging a House committee to kill the latest, perennial effort to legalize adult recreational cannabis use in Hawaii.  Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.  KITV4.

Hemp farmers face uncertainty as marijuana legalization bill moves forward. Efforts to legalize recreational marijuana are continuing to advance in the state Legislature and hemp farmers are starting to feel the impacts as the bill would move both products under one regulating authority. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii senator getting death threats after posts controversial tweet about Donald Trump. State Sen. Karl Rhoads said he is receiving death threats after posting a controversial tweet this past weekend in opposition to presidential candidate Donald Trump. KITV4.

Homeless Villages: A Viable Solution To Getting People Off The Street Or Just The Latest Fad? The Green administration is pushing to build a dozen kauhale this year throughout Hawaii. Civil Beat.

OHA seeks local nonprofit to administer $1.6M financial hardship grant program. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has set aside $1.6 million for an emergency financial assistance program for Native Hawaiians — and it needs a nonprofit to help run the program. Hawaii Public Radio.


Panel OKs 3% pay hike for Honolulu mayor and City Council. With little comment from the public, the Honolulu Salary Commission on Tuesday recommended a 3% or greater pay boost for the mayor, managing director, all nine members of the City Council and other appointed, high-level city officials. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.

Honolulu Salary Commission Considers Expanding Its Powers. Commissioners argue that having the ability to gradually raise pay rather than approving sporadic large bumps would have helped avoid last year’s controversial 64% raise for council members. Civil Beat.

Amid city juggling act, popular soccer complex emerges as top contender for new landfill. In his State of the City address, the mayor emphasized a better relationship with the military over use of its lands. It became clear Tuesday that involves a complicated puzzle involving a raceway, a landfill and a soccer complex, Managing Director Mike Formby told the council Budget Committee. Hawaii News Now.

Red Hill board accuses Navy of backing off transparency vow.  As the military tries to highlight progress on efforts to close the Navy’s underground Red Hill fuel facility, members of the Red Hill Community Representation Initiative are accusing the federal government of walking back on its commitments to transparency ahead of a public meeting scheduled for Thursday. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio.

10 intersections are new focus for ticket camera bill. Pending legislation aimed at ticketing speeding Hawaii drivers using automated cameras took another sharp turn Tuesday, with proposed use redirected to 10 Honolulu intersections where cameras already cite red-light runners. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Senate Committee Defers Bill On Panaʻewa, Pāhoa Ag Park Water EIS. The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Environment cited departments concerns with spending public money to the benefit of private entities. Big Island Video News.

Waimea mini-horse named nonprofit’s Pet of the Year. A miniature horse from Waimea that visits patients at Queen’s North Hawaii Community Hospital has become national nonprofit Pet Partners’ “Pet of the Year.” Tribune-Herald.


Bills could force short-term vacation rentals into long-term housing for Maui residents. Short-term vacation rentals on Maui could be facing a significant shift due to bills making their way now through the State Legislature.  KITV4.

$159M Job To Clean Up Lahaina’s Commercial District Begins 7 Months After Fires. The Army Corps of Engineers is working to secure access to the properties in what's expected to be a challenging phase of Maui's recovery. Civil Beat.

Congress ‘failing’ survivors of disasters, says Sen. Schatz. U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz had planned Tuesday to address his colleagues on the floor of the U.S. Senate about record funding for Native American communities, but first took the opportunity to say that Congress “is failing disaster survivors” in Lahaina and across the country. Star-Advertiser.


Yamane, Iha and Tacbian elected to KIUC Board.
The Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) announced the results of its Board of Directors election on Saturday afternoon.  Garden Island.

Making affordable housing more accessible: Kapaa Homes approved for redevelopment. On Tuesday, the Hawaii Public Housing Authority and Highridge Costa Development Company announced that the plan to redevelop Kapaa Homes has been unanimously approved. KHON2.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Green touts tourism on Japan trip, state arts funding, free school meals in jeopardy, second phase of Honolulu Skyline on track, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Gov. Green in Japan to help boost tourism. Gov. Josh Green, who is in Japan this week meeting with Japanese officials and business leaders, is working on lowering barriers to travel between Japan and Hawaii through a “Travel Corridor” that expands Global Entry, beefs up biometric screening and pursues “preclearance” status. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.

Hawaii State Arts Programs Could Be On The Chopping Block In The Legislature This Year.
A 59-year-old program that pays for art in public spaces is facing significant changes and budget cuts under a bill being considered Tuesday in the Senate. Civil Beat.

Legislative deadline looms over universal free school meals bill. A bill to provide universal free school meals in Hawaiʻi is once again in jeopardy at the state Legislature. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Corruption Offenders Are Getting Reduced Sentences — With One Notable Exception.
Changes to federal sentencing guidelines mean dozens of Hawaii prisoners, including those in high-profile corruption cases, are now eligible for early release. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers Advance Bill To Stabilize Soaring Insurance Costs For Condo Owners. Hawaii lawmakers are seeking to stabilize Hawaii’s condominium insurance market against sharply rising premiums and a declining availability of hurricane insurance that has sent ripples through Hawaii’s housing market. Civil Beat.

Dangerous dogs bill advances: Measure would create harsher penalties for their owners.
A proposal to strengthen state laws regarding vicious dogs will reach another milestone today following weeks of overwhelming public support. Tribune-Herald.

Bill advances allowing pedestrians to safely jaywalk. Legislators appear willing to make jaywalking legal across the islands — when safe — arguing in a Senate bill that pedestrians’ judgments are better at reducing injuries and deaths than traffic lights and traffic markings. Star-Advertiser.

UH Hopes To Retain Authority Over Construction Projects. University of Hawaii officials are pushing for passage of a bill that would reinstate the authority of the UH president over construction and related professional services. Civil Beat.

Advocates rally for stalled ‘clean elections’ bill
. More than a dozen advocates from the Clean Elections Hawaii Coalition gathered Monday at the state Capitol rotunda to urge legislators to reconsider implementing a comprehensive public financing program for Hawaii’s political candidates, commonly referred to as “clean elections.” Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

2 Finalists Will Interview For Top Job At Law Enforcement Standards Board. The candidates for the position of administrator of the Hawaii Law Enforcement Standards Board will have their final job interviews in public, the board determined during a meeting Monday.  Civil Beat.

Longtime Hawaii Public Safety Official Ted Sakai Dies at 77.
Former Hawaii Department of Public Safety Director Ted Sakai died Monday after a long struggle with lung cancer, corrections officials said. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Big Island Press Club celebrates retired judge, dishonors Hawai‘i emergency administrator.
The Big Island Press Club has awarded its annual meritorious Torch of Light Award to retired Intermediate Court of Appeals Judge Daniel Foley, and its Lava Tube Dishonor Award to Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency Administrator Col. (Ret.) James Barros. Big Island Now.


Honolulu Council could receive 3% salary hike. The proposed pay jump comes less than a year after the city’s top elective panel received a controversial 64% salary increase while the Honolulu mayor’s nearly 12.6% pay jump ultimately surpassed similar compensation granted to Hawaii’s governor. Star-Advertiser.

Second segment of Skyline gets one step closer to test phase as track work gets underway. Work is happening on the rail tracks that Skyline is not yet using between Aloha Stadium and Middle Street. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu Police Department plans to buy neighboring property to its headquarters. HPD currently leases several off-site office spaces and warehouse properties for evidence and vehicle storage. KITV4.

‘We can’t sit idly,’ Mayor Blangiardi addresses affordable housing
. Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced the creation of the Department of Housing and Land Management, which combines the Office of Housing with the Department of Land Management. KHON2.

Acid attack suspects plead not guilty in ‘murder for hire’ case. Two men, charged Tuesday in a superseding indictment for the Jan. 23 “murder for hire” acid attack on Chinese-language teacher Danying Zhang, pleaded not guilty this morning to all charges including conspiracy to commit attempted first-degree murder and/or attempted second-degree murder and/or first-degree assault. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

More housing, hotels for Kona: Lili‘uokalani Trust plans to develop nearly 70 acres. A draft environmental assessment for the Lili‘uokalani Trust Makalapua Project details plans for a mixed residential/hotel/commercial development on land adjacent to the Old Kona Industrial, Kona Commons and Old Kona Airport Park. West Hawaii Today.

Breeani Kobayashi announces candidacy for Big Island mayor.
Hilo native Breeani Kobayashi has announced her candidacy for Hawaiʻi County mayor, joining Kimo Alameda and current mayor Mitch Roth in the 2024 race for leadership of the Big Island. Big Island Now.

Experts: Take rat lungworm disease seriously. Franny Brewer, program manager at Big Island Invasive Species Committee, hosted an information session Saturday in Hawaiian Paradise Park about rat lungworm as part of BIISC’s education series. Tribune-Herald.


Hawaiʻi Attorney General to release ‘Phase One’ report on Maui wildfire investigation, April 17.  The Phase One report analyzes how the fire incident unfolded, based on science, during the first 24 to 72 hours of the fire and its aftermath, and includes a comprehensive timeline of events. Maui Now.

Over 60 subpoenas served in probe of Maui disaster response. The findings from the first phase of a state investigation into how government agencies handled the Maui wildfires that destroyed Lahaina and killed at least 101 people have been delayed and won’t be released until April, but 64 subpoenas have been issued in the probe since November. Star-Advertiser. Associated Press.

5 more candidates check out nomination papers for Maui County Council seats. Since early February, five new candidates have checked out nomination papers from the Hawaiʻi Office of Elections for Maui County Council seats. Maui Now.

Company buys historic Maui sugar mill, 300 acres with eye toward potential redevelopment. An Oahu-based construction company has bought the Puunene Mill on Maui. The new owner, Nan Chul Shin, purchased approximately 300 acres from Alexander & Baldwin in Central Maui last Thursday. Hawaii News Now.

New fishing rules for Kīpahulu are based on traditional practices, driven by community. Kīpahulu on Maui is now officially home to Hawaiʻi’s third community-based subsistence fishing area. Hawaii Public Radio. Maui News.


Pacific Biodiesel expands fuel crop project to Kauaʻi, eyes building 2nd refinery. For close to three decades, Pacific Biodiesel has been plugging away in Hawaiʻi using crops for fuel and recycling cooking oil waste from restaurants. Hawaii Public Radio.