Monday, April 8, 2024

House bill requires governor to make reports before emergency funding, wildfire risk increases after wet winter, single Maui power pole may have set off wildfire, lawsuit filed over geothermal plant expansion, proposed Big Island vacation rental limits attacked, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

House passes bill requiring governor to submit reports when using emergency grants.  The House passed a measure that requires the governor to submit reports to the state Legislature 14 days before using grants, including federal aid, received through emergency management powers. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Faces An Above Normal Risk Of Significant Wildfires Over The Next Three Months. A wetter-than-expected winter combined with an impending dry summer spells a risky few months for fire in Hawaii. Civil Beat.


Honolulu City Council members say they‘ll reject 3% pay hike.
All nine members of the Honolulu City Council appear to be unified on one issue: to formally reject the city Salary Commission’s proposed 3% salary increase granted to their respective Council seats last month. Star-Advertiser.

Weapons violations and homicides on Oahu are up compared to the first quarter of last year while crime overall is down, Honolulu police Chief Arthur “Joe” Logan told the Honolulu Police Commission. Star-Advertiser.

Chinatown’s Syringe Exchange Van Faces Hurdles Finding A Permanent Brick-And-Mortar Home. The program has been operating out of a mobile van for about 35 years. Civil Beat.

Community worries about state’s possible acquisition of ‘Bethel Block’.  After Hawaii Pacific University moved out of Fort Street Mall to Aloha Tower Market Place, HB 2328 would allow the state to acquire “Bethel Block” — the Ohia Building, the Blaisdell Building and the Whitlow Building that sit between Bethel Street, Pauahi Street, Fort Street and Chaplain Lane — to “faci­litate the growth of the State’s inventory of affordable housing units," according to HB 2328. Star-Advertiser.

DOE selects architect to design new multi-use building at Helemano Elementary. The Hawai‘i Department of Education has selected WhiteSpace Architects to design a $16 million multi-use building at Helemano Elementary School, according to a Thursday news release. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Island

Mayor’s proposed budget up 6.6%. Mayor Mitch Roth and his department heads will be presenting a proposed $888 million budget to the County Council Finance Committee beginning Tuesday. West Hawaii Today. Big Island Video News.

Vacation rentals bill blasted: Commissioners get an earful over proposed TAR regulations. At a marathon eight-hour meeting of the Windward Planning Commission, residents clashed with County Council Chair Heather Kimball over the controversial Bill 121, which would overhaul the county code concerning short-term vacation rentals. Tribune-Herald.

Lawsuit Filed Over Puna Geothermal Environmental Impact Statement. A lawsuit filed over a recently accepted environmental study is seeking a “permanent injunction on any further Puna Geothermal Venture expansion”.  Big Island Video News.

Big power supply problems continue to plague Hawaii Island.  The company has been facing an unusual situation with mechanical problems at three of the island’s five largest power plants while part of the largest plant undergoes an annual overhaul. Star-Advertiser.

‘Acute Problems’ Plaguing Big Island’s Wastewater Treatment Systems Prompt EPA Crackdown. A newly signed consent order will force county officials to make multimillion-dollar upgrades to treatment plants and take steps to eliminate large cesspools. Civil Beat.

Steep rent forces Hawai‘i Keiki Museum to shutter its doors in Kona. The museum, which operates as a nonprofit, opened its doors in 2022 and has been committed to inspiring curiosity, creativity, and innovation in young keiki through hands-on STEAM experiences.  Big Island Now.


The Most Detailed Account So Far Of The Lahaina Fire Points To One Termite-Damaged Utility Pole. While the public awaits Maui County's official report on the cause of the fire, lawyers for victims and insurers say Pole 7A set off a cascade of events that led to a wall of flame. Civil Beat.

Kahului Housing Project For Fire Survivors Finally Opens. After months of battling red tape, Ohana Hope Village has opened its doors and can house about 500 people. Civil Beat. Maui News.

Council greenlights eminent domain for Central Maui Landfill expansion. The Council in its meeting Friday authorized eminent domain proceedings to gain legal access to land planned for the expansion of the Central Maui Landfill. Maui Now.

Lahaina harbor reopening timeline depends on funds. Lahaina Small Boat Harbor sustained $30 million worth of damage in the Aug. 8 Maui wildfire and its destruction continues to hit Maui’s activities and attractions market hard, leaving many commercial boating operations and about 1,000 industry workers in limbo.  Star-Advertiser.

Maui Voters Created A Public Water Board. Two Years Later, Are Vested Interests Dragging Their Feet? The community board that governs the fledgling East Maui Water Authority took longer to get up and running than voters envisioned when they created it via county charter amendment in late 2022. Civil Beat.

Lahaina residents are turning anger into action through legislative advocacy. With about 3,000 fire survivors still living in hotel limbo, Maui’s housing crisis is far from over. Hawaii Public Radio.


Coco Palms developer, state officials deny claims of burial disturbances. The developer rebuilding the Coco Palms Resort has firmly denied public claims that Native Hawaiian burials were unearthed and moved during construction work at the Wailua site, an assertion also supported by government officials following a preliminary investigation.  Kauai Now.

Domestic passenger count drops in March at Lihu‘e Airport. The number of people getting off domestic passenger flights at Lihu‘e Airport sank to its lowest total for the month of March since the COVID-19 era. Garden Island.

Viewing site at Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge to open public at end of April. The new viewpoint site will be the primary location for the public to visit the Hanalei NWR, where the public can safely view the many sensitive endangered species and habitats in the valley from a distance. Kauai Now.

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