Showing posts with label Lahaina. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lahaina. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Legislature mulls tax breaks, panel rejects UH Regents chair, Green releases $175M plan for Maui fire victims, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Counties Fight To Keep Excise Tax As Lawmakers Advance Other Relief Measures. Measures that won preliminary approval in the House Finance Committee would increase standard deductions and adjust tax brackets for inflation. Civil Beat.

Senate Panel Rejects Confirmation Of Interim UH Regents Chair. By a unanimous vote, the Hawaii Senate Higher Education Committee on Tuesday rejected the nomination of Alapaki Nahale-a to serve a four-year term on the University of Hawaii board of regents. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.  Hawaii News Now.

Maui Fires: Money For Victims, Housing For Survivors Are Hawaii Governor’s Priorities in $175M package. Gov. Josh Green renewed threats of a moratorium on vacation rentals in West Maui, citing a need for 850 long-term rentals. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.  Associated Press.  Maui Now.  KITV4.

A bill restoring counties’ regulation of tobacco products may die in state House.
A measure that would restore the counties’ power to regulate the sale of cigarettes, tobacco products and e-cigarettes appears to be stalled in the House Finance Committee, and it may die there Wednesday if no action is taken. Maui Now.

Report finds increase in Hawaiʻi's small farm closures, yet remaining prove profitable. Hawaiʻi lost hundreds of its smallest farms and thousands of acres in recent years, but local agriculture has been “significantly” more profitable. Those are some of the findings in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture, which was released this month. Hawaii Public Radio.

Agency disputes affordable housing loss projection. A risk assessment of potential Hawaii affordable housing losses presented Tuesday at the Legislature is overblown, according to a state agency that helps finance such housing. Star-Advertiser.

Legislature tries to play catchup on drone technology. A pair of bills in the state Legislature would establish “misuse of uncrewed aircraft” as a felony offense in Hawaii. Tribune-Herald.

Lawsuit filed to protect midwifery in Hawaiʻi.
A lawsuit was filed Tuesday by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation an the Center for Reproductive Rights challenging a midwifery law that they say is preventing pregnant people in Hawaiʻi from using skilled midwives for their pregnancies and births, as they have for generations.  Maui Now.

Bill to create alert program for missing kūpuna advances in the House. The House Finance Committee advanced a bill on Monday that would create a statewide alert system for missing kūpuna with cognitive impairments or developmental disabilities. Hawaii Public Radio.


HART postpones discussion on scrapping internal audit. A call to scrap a previously sought top-down internal review of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation was postponed this week. Star-Advertiser.

Revised plan extends moving period for outgoing Ulu Ke Kukui tenants
having to find shelter by late February. The Ulu Ke Kukui apartments, which sit on Hawaiian Home Lands, are being repurposed into long-term affordable rentals for Native Hawaiians on the DHHL waiting list. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Island

Merrie Monarch organizers release 2024 list of participating halau, judges. On Tuesday, organizers announced on Instagram who will be competing and presiding over the world’s biggest Hula competition. Hawaii News Now.

Surveyors to assess topography of Waipi‘o Valley Road for future safety improvements.
Safety improvements on Waipiʻo Valley Road are slated to begin March 4. Control Point Surveying will conduct comprehensive surveying work to facilitate the enhancement of safety measures of the county roadway. Big Island Now.

Fire Closes Puʻuʻeo Community Center In Hilo. The Pu‘u‘eo Community Center at Clem Akina Park in Hilo is closed for the week, following a fire that damaged the building over the weekend.  Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.

Certified global, drink it local: Beer pros place Keaau business among ‘Best New Breweries of the Year’. Wailuku Brew Works in Shipman Business Park has been in business only seven months.  Tribune-Herald.


Bill to establish a nine-member Lele Community District Board for burned Lahaina lands heads to decision making. While the measure puts key decision making in the hands of elected Lahaina community members, some opposed to the bill worry that establishing a new authority under the department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism’s Hawaiʻi Community Development Authority lacks precedent and raises concerns about centralizing power away from the affected community. Maui Now.

Temporary Kamehameha III Elementary School campus transferred to DOE, set to open April 1. The US Army Corps of Engineers announced on Tuesday the successful installation and turnover of the newly constructed temporary campus for King Kamehameha III Elementary School students to the Hawai‘i State Department of Education. Maui Now. KHON2.

Kalaupapa Tours Remain Shut Down 4 Years After Pandemic Closure.
One would-be tour provider said the National Park Service has revoked the application process for companies that want to reinstate tours of the isolated peninsula on Molokai. Civil Beat.


Kauai Fire Deals $20 Million Blow To Affordable Housing.
The controversial project was nearing completion when it burned down over the weekend. Civil Beat.

Tour helicopter crashes on remote Kaua‘i beach, injuring one passenger.
According to a preliminary report, a Jack Harter helicopter carrying one pilot and four passengers crashed at Honopū Beach, with one passenger suffering a back injury. Kauai Now. Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Housing top of mind for Legislature, DHHL, Maui to allocate $13M police COVID hazard pay, Green lobbies Washington for aid for Lahaina, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Almost 12,000 affordable homes in Hawaii could be lost over next 20 years, study says. AARP Hawai‘i commissioned the study from Washington, D.C.-based Smart Growth America, and is scheduled to brief two legislative committees today on results. Star-Advertiser.

DHHL changes $600M spending plan to prioritize acquired land development. The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is making last-minute changes to its spending plan for the $600 million the agency needs to encumber by the end of June.  Hawaii Public Radio.

Why The State’s Housing Working Group Is Being Dissolved. The Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. is taking over for the Build Beyond Barriers Working Group. Civil Beat.

Maui costs may lead to budget cuts for state departments
. There are serious budget cuts on the table for state departments. In a memo, the Chairman of the Senate’s Ways and Means Committee asked department heads to propose 10% and 15% budget reductions to cover soaring costs from the Maui wildfires. KHON2.

Gov. Josh Green lobbies for more federal aid for Lahaina. Green said his visit with the nation's top leaders paid off because the feds have agreed to pay more than $40 million to get people out of hotels and into condos. KITV4.

On eve of roll-out, fund for wildfire deaths still awaits legislative approval. The Governor’s “One Ohana Fund” aims to pay $1.5 million each to families of people who died or were seriously injured in the Maui wildfire. Hawaii News Now.

Statewide survey shows strong public support for protecting natural resources. A statewide survey commissioned by the Care for ‘Āina Now coalition, formerly known as the Hawai‘i Green Fee Coalition, shows strong support for state funding of legislative bills to fund natural resource stewardship, the coalition announced. Maui Now.

Measure calls for homeless triage center.  A homeless triage center would be established within the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division of the state Department of Health under a proposal advancing at the state Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

Hawai‘i lawmakers to hold public hearing on vicious dog bill. Bills that would increase the penalties for owners whose dogs have seriously injured or killed someone are moving through the State Legislature with a public hearing scheduled this morning in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Big Island Now.

State measure to help combat invasive two-line spittlebug.
The State House of Representatives Committee on Finance took up a measure on Thursday to fund mitigation and control of the two-lined spittlebug, an invasive pest that has destroyed thousands of acres of pasture land on the Big Island. West Hawaii Today.


Federal Judge Says He’ll Rule Soon On Motions In Kaneshiro Bribery Case. The trial against former Honolulu prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro and those accused of trying to bribe him with campaign donations, including businessman Dennis Mitsunuaga, is currently scheduled for March 12.  Civil Beat.

HART board to consider scrapping internal audit. Plans to scrap a previously sought top-down internal review of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation are expected for review today. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu police fire 3 officers in Makaha crash case. Three Honolulu Police Department officers awaiting trial for allegedly causing a high-speed chase and crash and covering it up in Makaha in September 2021 were fired by the department. Star-Advertiser.

Green ‘super concerned’ about petroleum-based detections in water at 7 Hawaii schools. There’s growing concern after seven public schools in the Pearl Harbor area showed detections of petroleum-based chemicals. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Big Island cable market could see fresh face. The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs will hold public meetings in Hilo and Kailua-Kona today to solicit feedback about a plan by Hawaiian Telcom to enter the island’s cable television market. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.


Maui settles COVID hazard pay grievance with police for $13 million.
Less than a month after an arbitrator ruled that thousands of state workers were owed COVID-19 hazard pay for their efforts during the pandemic, the County of Maui settled a grievance with the Maui Police Department for about $13 million. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.  KHON2.

No high levels of bacteria found off of West Maui in five months following Lahaina wildfire. Ocean water quality samples taken from seven sites off the Lahaina burn zone showed no high bacteria levels five months after the Aug. 8 wildfires, according to the 2023 Blue Water Task Force water quality report released by the Surfrider Foundation Hawaiʻi. Maui Now.

Maui police arrest 13-year-old for alleged threat at Kalama; Investigation remains active at Baldwin and ʻĪao schools. A 13-year-old girl was arrested for Terroristic Threatening in connection with an alleged threat at Kalama Intermediate School.  Police say an investigation revealed the teen was responsible for the Kalama threat and she was arrested at approximately 3:20 p.m.  Civil Beat. Maui Now.  KITV4.


Big crowd turns out for Waimea Town Celebration. Hundreds of people collected at the Waimea Product Fair under the shade of the old sugar mill to wrap up the 47th Waimea Town Celebration over the weekend. Garden Island.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Hawaiian Airlines shareholders approve sale to Alaska Airlines, relief coming to businesses harmed by Honolulu rail construction, Maui council advances housing projects, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands


Hawaiian Airlines shareholders approve Alaska's $1.9B acquisition. Hawaiian Airlines shareholders on Friday approved the acquisition of Hawaiian by Alaska Airlines for $1.9 billion. The deal includes $900 million in Hawaiian debt. Hawaii Public Radio. Kauai Now.

Exodus of Hawaii residents cost state $185M in lost taxes since 2020.
The on-going exodus of Hawaii residents far outstrips the number of U.S. residents moving to the islands, resulting in the overall loss of 36,789 Hawaii residents over the last three years. Star-Advertiser.

Japanese visitors to Hawaii are trickling back. The full recovery of visitor arrivals from Japan, one of Hawaii’s most coveted source markets, continues to fall short, and a complete return to 2019 levels could take until 2026. Star-Advertiser.

Bill requires teachers accused of sexual misconduct to surrender licenses. An amended bill that would require teachers to surrender their licenses during any investigation into student sexual misconduct or abuse before retiring or resigning passed out of the House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee on Friday. Star-Advertiser.

New promises on horizon for future Hawaiian homestead leases.
The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is returning, in a big way, to a practice of issuing unconventional land leases to beneficiaries on its homestead waitlist. Star-Advertiser.

State warns against unlicensed contractors. In the midst of recovery efforts following the August 2023 wildfires on Maui, the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs last week urged property owners to prioritize hiring licensed contractors for their repair work. Star-Advertiser.

Stalled bills would support student inclusivity, identities. House Bill 1799 and its companion, Senate Bill 2670, would require the state Department of Education to establish a procedure allowing students to use their preferred names over legal names in an effort to strengthen “inclusivity” within public schools. Star-Advertiser.


Honolulu Mayor Signs Bill To Give Financial Relief To Businesses Hurt By Rail Construction. The city’s upcoming budgeting process will determine how much funding is available to dole out. Civil Beat.

Horrific crimes in Honolulu contradict drop in illegal acts. Despite those-high profile horrors that shocked communities accustomed to that kind of crime happening on the mainland, crime dropped in Honolulu in 2023 compared with 2022’s final tally from the Honolulu Police Department. Star-Advertiser.

Complaint alleges antisemitic rhetoric on UH Manoa campus.
A group of Jewish students at the University of Hawaii have filed a Title VI complaint with the federal government claiming that words and acts of antisemitism have made the university’s Manoa campus an “unsafe and hostile environment” for them. Star-Advertiser.

Taxpayers Are On The Hook For $1.25 Million After The State Failed To Provide Water To An Oahu Farmer. The Agribusiness Development Corp. is asking lawmakers to pay $1.25 million to settle a case that an Oahu farming outfit brought against it in 2019, alleging the state agency knowingly made years of false promises.  Civil Beat.

Oahu’s Construction Waste Could Become Food For Crops At A New Kapolei Facility. An innovative recycling plant also hopes to provide a process to turn invasive weeds and grasses into something more useful. Civil Beat.

City short of garbage trucks in supply chain backlog. The city typically purchases about 15 new trucks a year for replacement and maintenance, but supply chain and manufacturing delays have left the fleet short. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Leeward Planning Commission faces backlog. West Hawaii development permit requests are piling up after the Leeward Planning Commission has been unable to meet for six months straight. Tribune-Herald.

Gov. Green releases funding to upgrade 3 cesspools at Hilo International Airport. Gov. Josh Green released nearly $700,000 in capital improvement project funds to upgrade three cesspools at Hilo International Airport. Big Island Now.

Hundreds pay final respects to teen fatally struck by police cruiser.
Hundreds paid their final respects late last week to a 16-year-old Hilo High School junior who died in January from injuries he received after being struck as a pedestrian by an on-duty Hawaii Police Department officer at the wheel of a blue-and-white police cruiser. Tribune-Herald.

Take a walk au Naturel at Hawaiian Naturism Park, a nude bed and breakfast located in Fern Forest, just outside Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.  Other clothing-optional retreats include The Banana Patch, in Kealakekua, and Kehena Mauka Nui Club, a clothing-optional, gay/LGBTQIA Airbnb right across from Kehena Beach. Big Island Now.


Maui Council passes two housing projects on first reading; a third sent to Budget Committee. All three projects would tap the County’s Affordable Housing Fund after developers applied for funding and came out on top of a competitive review process. Maui Now.

Why Are Hundreds Of Lahaina Fire Survivors Turning Down FEMA Housing? Because It’s Not In West Maui. FEMA has secured about 1,500 properties for long-term housing for fire victims but only about a third are in West Maui. Civil Beat.

Nonprofit builds affordable housing on Maui. Catholic Charities Hawaii expects to complete construction of a 178-unit affordable housing project in Kahului by the end of 2026 that would help address the imperative need of residents who suffered serious loss in the August wildfires. Star-Advertiser.

FAA awards $8.6M for Kahului Airport TSA security screening checkpoint facility. The facility will include six new TSA screening lanes. A pedestrian bridge over the existing service road will connect the new checkpoint facility to Hold Room A. Maui Now.

New program helps train, boost nurses needed in Hawaii. Thirty-one students graduated in December from a first-of-its-kind bridge program at the University of Hawaii Maui College designed to train and bring more LPNs into the workforce. Star-Advertiser.

Hopes rise by survival of Lahaina’s banyan tree. After losing nearly 25,000 trees in the wildfire, 300 have survived including the famed banyan tree, and Maui finds hope. Maui News.


Redesigned police badge honors legacy of law enforcement on Kauaʻi. The unique special edition shield was minted in recognition of the dedication of the department’s staff and sworn officers throughout the past 80 years. Kauai Now.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Senate panel to discuss banning land sales to foreigners, Maui police issue after-action report on wildfire response, 2.2k plaintiffs file new Red Hill lawsuit, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

A bill is being proposed to the Senate on Tuesday to decide whether foreigners should be banned from purchasing land in Hawaii.  Senator Brenton Awa introduced SB2617 and said it’s about creating affordable housing for local people. KHON2.

Lawmakers introduce bill allowing counties to regulate tobacco sales. Lawmakers are considering a measure to repeal a 2018 state law known as Act 206 that preempts county tobacco sales measures. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hearing today on drunken driving bill.
State House Bill 1935 would, if passed, reduce the BAC threshold for drunken driving charges from the current 0.08% to 0.05%, which would be tied with Utah for the lowest in the nation. Tribune-Herald.

Lawmakers look to fund resources for substance abuse issues.
The state has already received about $19 million from settlements with opioid distributors and manufacturers to address substance abuse, but most of that money has not been spent. Hawaii Public Radio.

Lawmakers to discuss adding funding to University Hawai‘i budget to expand a scholarship program.  Lawmakers are looking to add $19 million to the University of Hawai‘i’s annual budget to fund the expansion of a community college scholarship to university students at Mānoa, Hilo and West O‘ahu. Big Island Now.

Bill this session would create a sustainable food systems working group for the state. A bill currently in the state Legislature proposes the creation of a working group to improve local agriculture, food resilience and access to healthy food across Hawaiʻi. Hawaii Public Radio.

Schools plan changes as hungry students describe unappetizing lunches. The push for more local fresh food is only at about 6 percent of DOE food served right now, with a goal of 30% by 2030. KHON2.

State psychiatric hospital overcrowded with patients who don’t have medical needs.
Hawaii’s only hospital that offers secure treatment for people with mental illnesses is overcrowded — mostly with people who do not medically need hospitalization. Hawaii News Now.


New Red Hill suit with 2,200 plaintiffs claims contamination of Navy water continues. Attorneys claim the Navy failed to warn residents after the 2021 fuel spills sickened thousands of people. They also allege plaintiffs are battling lingering illnesses and the water contamination hasn’t gone away. Hawaii News Now.

Ex-city prosecutor, co-defendants want key evidence excluded from corruption trial. Among the topics the defense does not want brought up before the jury: Details about tax returns, campaign contributions and disgraced ex-deputy city Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha. Hawaii News Now.

University of Hawaii selects film studio developer for West Oahu. The University of Hawaii is expected to announce today that it has selected a private developer to design, build, finance and operate a more than $100 million film and television production studio planned next door to UH West Oahu’s campus in Kapolei. Star-Advertiser.

Renewed push afoot to restore and preserve Honolulu’s Chinatown. Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said while there are challenges with the homeless, streets are cleaner, the River of Life relocated, more police are out patrolling, seven new surveillance cameras are up, and a major improvement project is slated for the area next to Cultural Plaza known as “river walk.” Hawaii News Now.

Council scrutinizes city’s tree planting program.
Honolulu Council member Radiant Cordero is concerned the city’s stated goal to plant 100,000 trees by 2025 has fallen short of its mark. Star-Advertiser.

Proposed wave pool draws opposition from groups of ʻEwa residents and Native Hawaiians. Plans for another artificial wave pool on the south shore of Oʻahu are raising concerns and a legal challenge from a group of ʻEwa Beach residents and Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Island

New Hawaiʻi County Human Resources Director Named. Sommer Tokihiro was named to fill the position formerly held by Waylen Leopoldino, who departed the job on June 30, 2023. Big Island Video News.

Hilo Wastewater Treatment Plant Project Draft EA Published. The draft Environmental Assessment says the project is anticipated to cost approximately $300 million to construct. Big Island Video News.

Kona judge calls HMSA contracts ‘unconscionable’. A Kailua-Kona judge on Friday ruled that contract terms and conditions the state’s largest health insurer imposes on doctors and patients are “unconscionable” and “unenforceable.” Tribune-Herald.

New proposal aims to advance study on alternate traffic routes between Puna and Hilo. Hawaiʻi County councilmembers will have another opportunity to advance plans to alleviate traffic congestion in the rapidly growing district of Puna on Hawaiʻi Island. Hawaii Public Radio.


Communications key to improving response, Maui police say in after-action report.  The Maui Police Department released 32 recommendations and preliminary findings from an internal review of its response to the Aug. 8 high winds and wildfires that left 100 dead and 7,000 people homeless. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Associated Press. Maui Now.  Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.  KITV4.

Final resting place for Lahaina fire debris needs public input.
As the cleanup of Lahaina steadily ramps up, Maui County officials are asking the community to help decide the final resting place for an estimated 300,000-400,000 tons of contaminated ash and debris. Maui News.

Program to send young Maui fire victims to Japan. The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii is preparing to send a cohort of youths affected by the Maui wildfires to Japan as a part of their new program called TOMODACHI Kibou for Maui, an initiative being carried out in partnership with TOMODACHI Initiative and Odyssey Japan. Star-Advertiser.


Mirah Horowitz is named new Kaua‘i Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals president. Horowitz previously served as the executive director of the Kaua‘i Humane Society from October 2018 through October 2020. Garden Island.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Legislature mulls recreational marijuana, payoffs to Hawaiian Homes beneficiaries, cats in prison; Kilauea volcano alert level raised, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Various marijuana measures introduced in Legislature.  At least three new bills relating to adult use of recreational cannabis have been introduced in the state Legislature. Tribune-Herald.

New bill would allow inmates to foster cats in prison. Inmates behind bars may soon have an unexpected cellmate. A new senate bill would allow inmates to foster cats while in prison.  KHON2.

Lawmakers advance bill that offers Hawaiian homestead beneficiaries cash instead of a lease.
Hawaiʻi lawmakers have advanced a measure that would allow the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to provide cash awards to beneficiaries on the waiting list in place of a lease. Hawaii Public Radio.

Deep fake videos from artificial intelligence spur push for crackdown ahead of Hawaii elections. In the islands, there’s a push to force political campaigns to tell voters when they use fake imagery. Ultimately Hawaii lawmakers want to keep images out of politics. Hawaii News Now.

Thousands of HGEA members entitled to COVID pay.
Gov. Josh Green and the state Legislature will have to figure out how to pay for an estimated $120 million to $150 million in retroactive hazard pay due to 7,800 unionized public workers who faced health risks at Hawaii public schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Star-Advertiser.

Inferno cost Hawaii farmers $23.1M, USDA says.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated damage and economic loss for Hawaii farmers from the August wildfires and wind amounted to $23.1 million. Star-Advertiser.


City Council to discuss railing inspection requirements after close call at Waikiki hotel.
Broken concrete and rusty rebar still exposed on the fifth floor of the Moana Surfrider in Waikiki after a portion of the railing came crashing down to the beach below Tuesday. KHON2.

Honolulu Police Fired For Buying Gun Parts, Domestic Violence And Not Activating Bodycam. In all, 37 officers had disciplinary actions finalized last year and another 31 had grievances pending or in arbitration, according to a legislative report. Civil Beat.

Family, Friends Of Homeless Man Killed By Police In Makaha Want Answers. His mother says Brandan Maroney was likely in distress when police confronted him and a mental health professional could have helped deescalate the situation. Civil Beat.

Miske top associate: Alleged crime boss ordered assaults, surveillance.
One of alleged crime boss Mike Miske’s top associates was back on the stand Wednesday morning in federal court. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Hawaiʻi Public Radio chief José A. Fajardo to step down in July.
José A. Fajardo will be stepping down from his role as Hawai‘i Public Radio’s president and general manager on July 31, due to his ongoing battle against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurodegenerative disease with no known cure. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Island

HVO raises Kilauea alert level amid unrest. According to an HVO report Wednesday, increased earthquake activity and ground inflation was detected beneath Kilauea’s summit south of the caldera region early Wednesday morning, which indicates the subsurface movement of magma. Tribune-Herald. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Video News.

Second try at Puna alternate route study. One week after the Hawaii County Council shot down $1 million in state funds to investigate alternate traffic routes into Puna, a new council bill is trying to run it back. Tribune-Herald.

Hawai‘i County announces second-round recipients for Kīlauea Recovery Grant Program. Out of 38 applications initially requesting $10.6 million, 16 organizations were chosen. Big Island Now.


Permanent Lahaina debris site narrowed to three locations.  Two West Maui locations and the Central Maui Landfill have been chosen as the finalists for the permanent disposal site for the ash and debris from the Lahaina wildfire. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Leftover debris from government cleanup leaves Kula residents to finish the job.
The government said it's finished with fire debris cleanup in Upcountry Maui. Twenty homes and more than a thousand acres burned there. But residents say the cleanup isn't nearly complete. Hawaii Public Radio.

One of two stolen Lahaina signs is returned. One of the two stolen large redwood Lahaina signs was returned last week following reports of community dismay and a plea to get the signage back where it belongs, according to the Lahaina Restoration Foundation.  Maui Now.


Proposed condo acquisition on Kauai stirs controversy. The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) is considering purchasing the Courtyards at Waipouli for what would be the first-ever condo purchase on Kauai to help alleviate a nearly 30,000 beneficiary waitlist. KITV4.

Kaua‘i Bus adjusts routes to accommodate student commuter hours. The Kaua‘i Bus is adjusting its scheduled routes to improve service to the public and accommodate student commuter hours. Kauai Now.

Eggs-quisite translocation: Laysan albatross eggs moved from Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands.  Since 2005, the environmental team at the missile range facility on Kaua‘i has worked with the Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard Initiative to conduct the annual Laysan Albatross Translocation Program. Kauai Now.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Congressional hearing Tuesday on helicopter tourism, Jewish synagogues tighten security after email threat, teachers grapple with AI use in classroom, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Pilots flying tourists over national parks face new rules after  the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Hawai‘i Island Coalition Malama Pono sued. Historically, some of the nation’s busiest spots for tour operators are Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and Haleakala National Park. The issue has grown so contentious that a congressional oversight hearing is planned for Tuesday. Associated Press.

Vacancies In State Child Welfare Services Jobs Reach Their Highest Point In Over A Decade. A report from Department of Human Services to the federal government paints a grim picture, but the state plans to award extra pay to try to attract more workers. Civil Beat.

Email Threat To Jewish Temples In Hawaii Heightens Security Fears. The state Attorney General’s Office and the FBI will investigate an email claiming that explosives had been placed in Jewish synagogues across Hawaii, Gov. Josh Green said. Civil Beat.

Gov. Green marks challenging first year in office, planning ahead to 2024.
One of Gov. Josh Green’s pledges on Day 1 in office was to provide more housing — a difficult task made monumental by the devastating Maui wildfires exacerbating Hawaii’s shortage of available and affordable places to live. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Teachers Face ‘Daunting Task’ Addressing AI Use In Classrooms. While some teachers have embraced tools powered by artificial intelligence over the past year, others remain uncertain about its role in their classrooms. Civil Beat.

Culture a big reason to keep Hawaiian Airlines’ identity.  The Hawaiian Airlines name is slated to join a roster of longtime kamaaina brands that lived on after being acquired by companies outside Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Airlines’ parent owns Aloha Airlines trade name. Hawaiian Airlines has not only one venerable Hawaii aviation brand name, but a second one from a defunct former competitor. Star-Advertiser.


Parking contract extended for Ala Wai harbor. A short-term contract extension for management of parking at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor was awarded last week amid ongoing controversy over management of the popular state- controlled harbor and its coveted stalls. Star-Advertiser.

UH Center for Indigenous Innovation and Health Equity gets $2M award
. The University of Hawaii’s Center for Indigenous Innovation and Health Equity has received a $2 million award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Shoreline setback rule amendment to be considered. The Hawaii County Planning Department is holding a public hearing Thursday for the proposed amendment of Rule 11 which sets shoreline setback from 20 to 40 feet from the high water mark. West Hawaii Today.

Strong support for vape bill: Measure seeks to ban all flavored tobacco products. Big Island students gathered Tuesday to urge the Hawaii County Council to approve a ban of flavored tobacco products. Tribune-Herald.

Ground Broken On Largest Water Reservoir In Hawaiʻi. Officials on Thursday broke ground on the 10-Million-Gallon Lālāmilo Water Reservoir, which will be the largest reservoir in the State of Hawaiʻi when completed in two years. Big Island Video News.

Hilo Bay’s water quality targeted for improvement. Last week, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that they would award Hawaii County a $2 million grant to develop a watershed management plan for Hilo Bay. That grant will be accompanied by $464,300 in county funds. Tribune-Herald.

Progress made on Ocean View Skatepark. The nonprofit Ocean View Skatepark Association has for the past few years been fundraising and saving money for the project, which would be located on a portion of Kahuku Park. Tribune-Herald.


Maui wildfire litigation expected to surge. The number of fire loss lawsuits filed in state court have topped 70 but is expected to soar into the hundreds — and perhaps beyond 1,000 — to easily become the biggest incidence ever of mass tort litigation in Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

New Maui water diversion permit approved. Tensions over a new East Maui water allocation permit ran high at a Board of Land and Natural Resources meeting Friday, resulting ultimately in the issuance of another temporary authorization for the continued diversion of millions of gallons of water. Star-Advertiser.

Maui looking at up to $100K for ohana unit construction.
On Friday the Council will consider a bill establishing the criteria for the ‘Ohana Assistance Pilot Program, which will offer grants of up to $100,000 to build an accessory dwelling unit, or second farm dwelling, for long-term occupancy. Star-Advertiser.

Lahaina ash characterization testing shows elevated levels of toxic substances. The state Department of Health released data today showing elevated levels of arsenic, lead, antimony, cobalt, and copper in wildfire ash collected in Lahaina. Maui Now.

Lahaina school replacement 2-3 months away. Late February or March is the earliest that a new temporary school being built to replace the King Kameha­meha III Elementary School campus lost in the Lahaina fire will be ready for students and teachers to occupy, based on an Army Corps of Engineers timeline. Star-Advertiser. Maui News.

No major holiday tourism boost expected for Maui, bad press cited as one reason. With Christmas just a few weeks away, officials were hoping holiday visitors would give the island an economic boost, but they’re now expecting the numbers to fall far below expectations. Hawaii News Now.


County approves over $2M for fire, disaster prevention. The Kaua‘i County Council approved more than $2 million in funding to be used for fire, ocean and disaster prevention funding during a meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 6. Garden Island.

Kauaʻi sees near to above average rainfall in November.  Regardless of dry conditions persisting throughout the state in November, all rain gauges on Kauaʻi recorded near to above average rainfall totals for the month. Kauai Now.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

State budget surplus plummets, Hawaiian Airlines stock soars, military ending live-fire training in Makua Valley, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Remember Last Year’s State Budget Surplus? Well, Wave Goodbye. New state data provided to bond investors shows the general fund surplus for the end of this fiscal year has plummeted from a projected $3.9 billion to just $600 million. When Gov. Josh Green unveils his proposed state supplemental budget later this month he will set the stage for what may be a lackluster election year session of the Legislature. Civil Beat.

Review of Governor Josh Green's first year in office. Tuesday, December 5th marks one year since Governor Josh Green came into office. Over the past year, he has had a lot on his plate. KITV4.

Three individuals identified in search to fill the House District 10 vacancy for Maui. They are Timothy Scott Lara, entrepreneur, and community leader; Leslee D. Matthews, social worker and attorney; and Tyson K. Miyake, former chief of staff to former Mayor Victorino. Maui Now.

Hawaiian Airlines stock soars 193% after buyout news.
Shares of Hawaiian Holdings Inc. closed Monday at $14.22, up from $4.86 Friday before leaders of the two companies announced the acquisition deal Sunday. Star-Advertiser.

Proposed Hawaiian-Alaska merger tests Biden administration’s resolve.
The Biden administration has taken a tough stance against mergers, and it is certain to take a close look at Alaska Air Group’s proposed $1.9 billion acquisition of Hawaiian Airlines. Associated Press. KHON2.

Experts: Alaska buyout of Hawaiian Air was best possible outcome but questions remain. The end of local ownership for Hawaiian Airlines continues to send shock waves across the state and airline industry, but many see the $2 billion buyout by Alaska Airlines as a chance to preserve the Hawaiian Air brand while perhaps improving service. Hawaii News Now.


US military affirms it will end live-fire training in Mākua Valley. The U.S. military has confirmed that it will permanently end live-fire training in Mākua Valley on Oʻahu, a major win for Native Hawaiian groups and environmentalists after decades of activism. Associated Press.

Navy plane ‘pulverized’ coral in Kaneohe Bay, state divers say.
State divers plan to continue surveying the damage to the coral reef around Marine Corps Base Hawaii, where the front landing gear of a Navy plane “sort of pulverized the coral,” and anchors from a boom installed to contain fuel leakage also left scars. Star-Advertiser. Associated Press. Hawaii News Now.

State, feds offer city $75M to reopen Halawa Shaft. The Halawa Shaft, one of Oahu’s major sources of fresh drinking water, was permanently shut down following massive leaks of jet fuel at the Navy’s Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage in 2021. Star-Advertiser.

The New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District will take decades to complete. One official said the stadium should be done in about five years, but the rest of the project will take many more to complete. KHON2.

Mechanical issues reportedly force emergency hard landing. A 77-year-old man was taken in serious condition to a hospital Monday after the pilot of a small plane apparently performed an emergency landing at a construction site in Kapolei. Star-Advertiser.

How A Hawaii Kai Community Ended Up Owing $38,000 In Delinquent Property Taxes. Residents in a section of Hawaii Kai are trying to get the city to take over their private road after the development companies dissolved and left them to cover almost $40,000 in delinquent property taxes.  Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Mayor Roth signs bill to streamline construction permitting process on Hawaiʻi Island. The new law simplifies and standardizes application timelines, extensions and expirations. They now align with updated construction code standards mandated by the state. Hawaii Public Radio.

Study: Hilo had 20.2% decline in brick-and-mortar retailers from 2011 to 2021. Hilo ranked No. 16 in the study among “small metros” and 19th in “all metros,” with the number of retail stores plummeting from 657 in 2011 to 574 in 2021. Tribune-Herald.

Magnitude-5.1 Earthquake Shakes Hawaiʻi Island. The earthquake was located in the Hilina region on the southern flank of Kīlauea volcano, and did not generate a tsunami. Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.  KHON2. KITV4.

Two humpback whales in Kona waters instantly identified using app with artificial intelligence. With the app Happywhale, Capt. Andrew Aggergaard and naturalist Olivia Miller were thrilled to be able to identify the two adults by photographing their flukes and letting the app’s artificial intelligence match them to those in its global digital database of more than 70,000 whales.  Big Island Now.


Lahaina Fire Came Amid Record String of Natural Disasters In 2023.
After a record-breaking year for natural disasters in America, Lahaina will be vying for recovery assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency amid growing geopolitical threats and within a bitterly partisan political climate. Civil Beat.

With key deadline approaching, FEMA seeks long-term housing for Maui evacuees. Federal, state and county officials are working with thousands of victims — and next Monday is the deadline for those impacted to apply for assistance with FEMA. Hawaii News Now.

State DHS launches million-dollar rental assistance program for Maui wildfire survivors. 
Maui wildfire survivors who are ineligible for FEMA assistance are now candidates for a new state rental assistance program. KITV4.

UH researching Maui wildfire impacts on agriculture, health with federal grants. In the wake of the Aug. 8 Lahaina fire on Maui, researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi have launched projects that focus on agriculture’s monitoring and response to disasters, and analyzing the possible effects of chromium on West Maui agricultural lands.  Maui Now.

Total visitor arrivals, spending declined for 3rd straight month in October compared to 2022. Both visitor arrivals and visitor spending declined for the third straight month compared to 2022, as Hawaiʻi’s visitor industry continued to feel the impact of the August Lahaina wildfires, according to preliminary statistics from the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Maui Now.


Evslin addresses plans for ‘housing crisis’ after becoming chair of House Committee on Housing. Following the recent announcement that Kaua‘i state Rep. Luke Evslin was appointed to chair the House Committee on Housing, Evslin spoke of his efforts to address the state’s housing shortage. Garden Island.

Department of Water to conduct water service line inspections beginning January. The Department of Water will be conducting water service line inspections at meter boxes island-wide starting in January to identify pipe materials delivering water to residential homes and businesses and ensure compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead and Copper Rule Revision drinking water rules. Kauai Now.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Attorney General subpoenas Maui agencies in fire probe, state minimum wage rising to $14, shorter Skyline OKed for federal funding, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Maui Agencies Subpoenaed After Holding Up Fire Investigation, AG Says. Three Maui County departments were served subpoenas Monday after not meeting the timelines with a state investigation into their response to the Aug. 8 wildfires that killed 100, left 7,500 homeless and caused $5.5 billion in damage.  Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Maui Now.  Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.  KITV4.

Minimum wage to get boost: Hourly rate will rise to $14 in January under 2022 law. Minimum-wage employees in Hawaii will get a pay hike of nearly 17% to kick off the new year. Tribune-Herald.

State Sen. Maile Shimabukuro, First Elected 20 Years Ago, Won’t Seek Reelection.
Shimabukuro, whose District 22 Senate seat represents Ko Olina, Nanakuli, Maili, Waianae, Makaha and Makua on Oahu, made the announcement Monday. Civil Beat.


Plan for shorter Skyline wins OK for federal funding
. A federal agency helping pay for Honolulu’s rail system has agreed to release funding it has been withholding over concerns about past city handling of the grossly delayed and over-budget project. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Water Board adopts rate hike of over 50%.
  The agency’s board of directors Monday voted 5-1, with board member Gene Albano abstaining, to approve a new 5-1/2-year water rate schedule that will see higher rates phased in, with the first 10% increase kicking in Feb. 1 and the next 10% hike to occur July 1. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. KITV4.

Honolulu Fire Department official wants to add 2 helicopters, 3 pilots
. The Honolulu Fire Department's aviation manager wants to beef up the department’s ability to fight fires and make rescues. Hawaii Public Radio.

Navy plane in bay has ‘full integrity,’ no sign of fuel leak
. A week after a Navy P-8A slid into Kaneohe Bay while trying to land in rainy weather, the Navy rear admiral in charge of extracting the plane said all of the more than 2,000 gallons of fuel on board had been safely removed, while apologizing for not better updating the public and media. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

The Miske Files: An Officer Gets Caught In The Crossfire. The feds were investigating Mike Miske and the Kealohas at the same time. Sgt. Al Lee ended up in the middle of both. Civil Beat.

Trial Of Officers Charged In Makaha Pursuit Continued To June 3. Four Honolulu police officers are accused of pursuing a car until it crashed and leaving the scene. Civil Beat.

$20,000 worth of fireworks found stashed in 92-year-old woman’s carport.  With New Year’s Eve celebrations right around the corner, illegal fireworks are already a hot commodity — and a growing headache for law enforcement. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

$8M demolition of decaying Uncle Billy’s hotel to start
.  The $8 million demolition of the dilapidated former Uncle Billy’s hotel in Hilo is set to commence with asbestos abatement work starting next week. Star-Advertiser. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.

Community Meeting Set To Re-Envision Waiākea Peninsula. A public meeting to be held Monday, December 4, will gather community input on the Banyan Drive waterfront and other redevelopment projects. Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.

Pohoiki Boat Ramp Dredging Project Permit Application Posted. The latest issue of The Environmental Notice included a Conservation District Use Application, as well as a Coastal Zone Management notice, concerning the Pohoiki Boat ramp dredging project. Big Island Video News.


The Controversial Developer Looming Over West Maui’s Water Conflict. Peter Martin spent decades guzzling water around Lahaina. Then came the fire. Civil Beat.

Mental Health Services For Youth On Maui Receive A Funding Boost. The money will support schools, multiple community partners and nonprofits, but more will be needed. Civil Beat. Maui Now.

Lahaina, Kula disaster recovery community update meetings canceled this week due to kona low forecast. The weekly Disaster Recovery Community Update Meetings for Kula residents at 6 p.m. Tuesdays and for Lahaina residents at 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays are canceled this week due to the kona low weather forecast. Maui Now.


Kaua‘i officials urge residents to be vigilant as severe weather may occur starting Tuesday. County of Kaua‘i officials are urging the public to be vigilant due to potential severe weather conditions starting Tuesday and continuing through Thursday. Kauai Now.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

State lawmakers lay out wildfire prevention roadmap, one more Maui fire victim identified, evidence released in advance of HPD crash trial, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Lawmakers Propose ‘Bold Action’ To Address Wildfire Risk. The Aug. 8 Maui fires have created “one of the largest public policy challenges that Hawaii has ever faced,” state lawmakers said Wednesday in laying out details in six preliminary reports aimed at providing a roadmap for the 2024 Legislature to follow in addressing shortcomings in the state’s wildfire prevention and management efforts. Civil Beat.

Wildfire named Hawaii’s top hazard in new report. The Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency released the recently updated State Hazard Mitigation Plan on Wednesday. Star-Advertiser. Tribune-Herald.

Recent laser incidents on Kauai, Maui prompt FBI warning. Pilots are reporting several laser-pointing incidents while landing at airports on Kauai and Maui, prompting warnings by the FBI and police that those responsible face federal prosecution.  Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.

UH Foundation launches $1 billion fundraising drive.  The University of Hawaii Foundation on Wednesday launched the public phase of an ambitious $1 billion fundraising campaign aimed at support for students, UH research, Native Hawaiian stewardship, sustainability, Hawaii’s workforce, community engagement and innovation and entrepreneurship. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.  Hawaii News Now.

Family celebrates as Hawaii woman stuck in Gaza gains her freedom. Family members of Ramona Okumura were celebrating Wednesday after the 71-year-old aid worker originally from Hawaii was whisked out of war-torn Gaza to safety in Egypt. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio.  Tribune-Herald.  KHON2.


Prosecutors detail evidence ahead of trial against 4 HPD officers in near-fatal crash. The city Prosecutor’s Office has revealed some of the evidence they plan to show the jury in the upcoming trial for four Honolulu police officers. Officers Joshua Nahulu is charged with collision involving serious bodily injury. Officers Erik Smith, Jake Bartolome and Robert Lewis are charged with hindering prosecution and conspiracy. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu Confirms New Member Of Police Commission. Jeannine Souki replaces Shannon Alivado, who stepped down in October. Civil Beat.

Two New Liquor Commissioners Confirmed By Honolulu Council. The Honolulu City Council confirmed two new liquor commissioners on Wednesday, updating the membership of a body that has been a subject of controversy in recent years.  Civil Beat.

Helicopters continue dropping water on Mililani Mauka wildfire. A wildfire in Central Oʻahu has grown to cover more than a square mile in a remote mountainous area and has burned native koa and ʻōhiʻa trees, officials said.  Associated Press. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.  KITV4.

Jewish temple in Nuuanu beefs up security. The largest Jewish temple in Hawaii is trying to raise $50,000 to pay for armed guards and enhanced security in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack in Israel. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

Lab-Grown Corals Help Restore Damaged Reef In Hanauma Bay
. The project demonstrated how it may be possible to restore larger areas much more quickly than would happen naturally. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Hawaiʻi County Council passes resolution to strengthen island's fire department. The Hawaiʻi County Council passed a resolution urging Mayor Mitch Roth to increase the capacity of and funding for the Hawaiʻi Fire Department. Hawaii Public Radio.

Council takes step toward more South Kohala affordable housing. The Hawaii County Council on Wednesday approved a resolution authorizing the director of finance to negotiate a 68-year lease with Pacific Housing Assistance Corporation/Kamakoa Nui Limited Partnership to develop Na Hale Makoa in Waikoloa Village. Tribune-Herald.

Kalaoa Solar Project meeting on Nov. 13, open to public. The public is invited to attend an informational meeting about the Kalaoa Solar Project, a proposed 40-acre renewable energy facility on state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands property in Kalaoa. West Hawaii Today.

Car dealership to occupy property currently housing Millie’s Deli, New Saigon restaurant. A plan by a Hilo car dealership to relocate to a new location blindsided business owners who say they weren’t told that the building they sublease was being sold. Tribune-Herald.


Maui police identify Lahaina man, 76, as latest fire fatality. Lee Rogo, 76, was publicly identified after his family was notified. Of the 99 confirmed fatalities, 98 have been publicly identified after notification of next of kin. One victim has not been identified. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

Native Hawaiians and commercial boat operators clash over Lahaina Harbor, Mala Wharf future. The Maui Arts and Cultural Center was packed on Wednesday with people who are passionate about protecting West Maui. Hawaii News Now.

W. Maui hotel occupancy still mostly residents.
Occupancy rates down but room revenue, daily rates highest in state. Maui News.

Developers: Rising mortgage rates threaten Maui’s wildfire recovery. Prominent Maui developer Everett Dowling is responding by making big changes to one project that was already in the pipeline towards construction.  To keep the project alive while Maui is desperate for new housing, Dowling’s company is proposing dropping the plan from 54 buildings with homes for sale to a simpler, six-building layout with 202 rentals. Hawaii News Now.

Chefs Anticipate Even More Demand To Feed Maui Months After Wildfires. Farm owners and feeding operations are preparing to be in it for the long haul. Civil Beat.


Celebrate Arbor Day on Kaua‘i with tree giveaway, more on Nov. 4. The Kauaʻi Landscape Industry Association will host a tree giveaway, educational booths and keiki planting zone at the Kukui Grove Center in Līhuʻe this Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Kauai Now.