Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted November 18, 2018
HART Admits Taxpayers 100% on the Hook for P3 Contract
CB: …the P3 partner chosen via the public procurement process now underway will not receive any fare box revenue. Its ability to make a profit under the P3 is not at all linked to ridership.
The P3 partner will receive milestone construction payments from HART for about one-third of its construction costs and will finance approximately two-thirds of the construction costs from private sources during the five-year construction period of the City Center and Pearl Highlands Garage and Transit Center.
They will not begin to be paid back their debt, through a mechanism called “availability payments” made from the project’s available public sources of funds, until the construction is completed and the train is operating at the required performance and quality standards. In this way, more budget and schedule certainty is achieved and taxpayers get a higher quality product.
(Translation: It is a way of delaying payment, thus increasing financing costs—which is exactly what HART just announced in its latest ‘Recovery Plan’.)
The P3 partners do not set or collect fares, do not go “bust” due to poor ridership, cannot raise fares, or “extort” payments from the city (because they already have). And the rail system doesn’t “flop” or lose money every year (yes it does). There is a social policy that isle residents will subsidize the cost of public transportation ….
(Translation: We’re going to soak the taxpayer, not the rider.)
Nov 16, 2018: HART approves rail recovery plan—New Cost $9.196B
read … Public-Private Partnerships Can Benefit Honolulu Rail
Waters and supporters threaten recount lawsuits
SA: …City Council candidate Tommy Waters and a group of supporters from East Honolulu are threatening to file separate court challenges seeking a recount of nearly 40,000 ballots from the Nov. 6 general election, which Waters lost by 22 votes to incumbent Trevor Ozawa.
They say the razor-thin margin in the District 4 race warrants a recount or, short of that, more answers about how late-arriving votes were handled.
Rex Quidilla, city election administrator, said the procedures followed Nov. 6 were the same as in previous elections, with the absentee mail-in ballots that were dropped off by voters on Election Day at Honolulu Hale or any of the Oahu precincts counted last.
Based on the available tallies, it appeared that by the end of Election Day, Waters had won by 72 votes. But the final count, released at 4:12 a.m. Nov. 7, showed Ozawa ahead by 22 votes….
read … Waters and supporters threaten recount lawsuits
Green Energy Hustlers Thrilled at Prospect of 20% Higher Electric Bills
CB: … New Shipping Rules May Drive Up Hawaii’s Power Bills--But
experts (Silicon Valley Billionaires) say there is a silver lining: higher fuel prices will make renewable energy sources in Hawaii even more competitive.
The current price of low-sulfur fuel oil has dropped almost even with Brent, FGE’s data show. But the firm projects a spike a 2020, when the shipping regulation goes into effect. It expects prices to stay about $20 per barrel higher than the benchmark crude oil.
Hawaii’s electric utilities are allowed to pass on the increased fuel prices to consumers. As a result, Fesharaki predicts a 20 percent increase on top of what are already the nation’s highest prices for electricity.
A home that now pays $200 per month for electricity will pay about $240, Fesharaki said, or about $480 more over the course of a year…..
read … New Shipping Rules May Drive Up Hawaii’s Power Bills
Rename Hawaii Consumer Advocate the Rate Advocate
IM: …Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS §269-54) states that the consumer advocate "shall consider the long-term benefits of renewable resources in the consumer advocate's role as the consumer advocate."
"The consumer advocate may...organize and hold conferences on problems affecting consumers of utility services....represent the interests of consumers of utility services before any state or federal agency or instrumentality having jurisdiction over matters which affect those interests."
Thus, the consumer advocate could represent the community in the current Hu Honua controversy before the department of health.
Representative Cynthia Thielen introduced HB 1328 in 2003. “The Consumer Advocate may consider the long-term benefits of renewable resources in the Consumer Advocate's role as Consumer Advocate.”
A joint hearing was held by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and Housing chaired by Senator J. Kalani English and the Committee on Energy and Environment chaired by Senator Ron Menor.
“The Committees received supporting testimony from the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA), Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter, and Life of the Land.”
“According to the DCCA, the Consumer Advocate currently considers the long-term benefits of renewable resources in the course of reviewing filings made by energy utility companies before the Public Utilities Commission. The Consumer Advocate has attempted to support renewable energy development resources in executing its fiduciary responsibilities to consumers, by balancing the interests of all ratepayers and utilities, as well as other factors.”
“Because renewable energy is vitally important, your Committees have amended this measure by requiring, instead of allowing, the Consumer Advocate to consider the long-term benefits of renewable resources.” ….
read … Rename Hawaii Consumer Advocate the Rate Advocate
Shakedown: Judge calls inspections at Pohakuloa training area ‘grossly inadequate’
SA: …Since 1964 the Army, for $1, (this is all about money for OHA) has leased nearly 23,000 acres of state land here to conduct live-fire training exercises.
The training grounds are part of a 1.3 million-acre statewide land trust the Department of Land and Natural Resources oversees and is obligated to protect and maintain on behalf of the public.
But a state judge earlier this year ruled that DLNR breached its trust duties by failing to care for the Big Island property….
The lawsuit went to trial in 2015, but Chang didn’t issue his ruling until April….
Chang ordered the department to develop a detailed Pohakuloa monitoring plan for the court to approve.
The state has appealed Chang’s ruling, arguing the judge intruded into management practices traditionally reserved for the executive and legislative branches of government. The appeal is pending….
The court is basically making a new rule, raising questions about how the department and board allocate resources, added Suzanne Case, who heads DLNR and its board.
“It’s like an unfunded mandate,” Case told the Star-Advertiser. (See. This is all about money. ‘Funding’ will come from increased lease payments, 20% of which will go to OHA.)
As Explained: Harbors Division Fee Hike designed to boost $77M OHA Slush Fund?
read … Judge calls inspections at Pohakuloa training area ‘grossly inadequate’
DLNR Leasing Strategy: Wait for Phone to Ring
SA: … Hard up for cash, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources nearly a decade ago identified 14 mostly vacant properties as having the best potential among its inventory of idled lands to start generating badly needed funds for park maintenance.
The goal was to lease the sites on a long-term basis to raise $12 million yearly to invest in the state’s deteriorating parks.
Nine years later, only one of the 14 properties has been leased, generating all of $110,000 annually for the department.
For a variety of reasons, the grand plans DLNR officials touted in 2009 largely have fizzled, despite a sustained real estate boom over much of that period.
DLNR officials, as it turned out, were not very good at marketing the properties or were overly optimistic about what needed to be done before some of the sites could be leased, according to interviews and a Honolulu Star-Advertiser review of department documents and other records.
Some DLNR staffers blamed ineffective marketing. In complaints filed internally against the agency’s Land Division management in 2016, about a half-dozen employees described the division’s marketing strategy as little more than pounding a “for lease” sign into the ground, running an ad and, in the words of one of the workers, sitting back “waiting for the phone to ring.”
They also said the agency lacked a comprehensive inventory identifying its core and noncore assets — a standard tool for landowners — and rejected staff proposals for a comprehensive marketing strategy that included working with outside brokers. Given that only a small percentage of DLNR land has income-generating potential, the workers added, marketing and targeting the best parcels are all the more important.
Commercial real estate broker Steve Sofos was even more blunt about the marketing savvy of DLNR officials.
“They’re inept,” he said.
Department officials defended their efforts and cited multiple factors to explain why most of the 14 properties billed as part of a “Recreational Renaissance” program, supported by the administration of former Gov. Linda Lingle, have not been leased….
read … DLNR plan to lease promising state properties fizzles despite strong real estate market
DLNR Criticized for Not Looting Tenants of Kanohelehua Industrial Park
SA: …When a ground lease expires, the buildings or other improvements on the land typically become the property of the landowner.
If a lease is extended, many landowners will assess the value and condition of the improvements and require compensation for essentially deferring ownership of those assets and allowing the lessee to use them and the land during the extension period.
The concept is known in real estate circles as deferred reversionary interest.
Many landowners in Hawaii — especially those in the private sector — insist on compensation for such deferred interest when extending ground leases.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources is not among them….
(Hint to Tenants: Fee Simple Conversion.)
read … Take More Money
DHHL: Three Years of Paper Shuffling Before Construction Can Begin
WHT: … The complexities of specialized development projects often result in unforeseen difficulties and delays, but after almost three years, prospective residents of the DHHL affordable housing project are frustrated and asking questions about the hold-ups keeping them from starting new lives on their ancestral lands.
“They’ve had three years to get a developer in there and we’re just disappointed in the process,” said Bo Kahui, executive director for Laiopua 2020 and the board director of the Villages of Laiopua Homesteaders Association. “I think the Native Hawaiian community begins to become very discouraged about why this takes so long.”
DHHL has selected a developer, Ikaika Ohana, which is working in concert with Urban Housing Communities in that role. But a factor in the overall length of the process may have something to do with how long it took to officially award the contract.
According to the RFP, accessible at DHHL.hawaii.gov, the estimated contract award date was May of 2016. James Rock is a senior development manager with Urban Housing Communities and is currently working on the development agreement for the project. He said he believed his company’s partner in the venture, Ikaika Ohana, was officially awarded the contract sometime in the third quarter of 2017.
Kahui said he spoke to Stewart Matsunaga, listed on the RFP as master-planned community development manager with the DHHL Land Development Division, about the housing project’s status at a meeting in Hilo in September.
Kahui recalled part of Matsunaga’s explanation for the current operational timeline was that the “RFP had gone back and forth.”
Rock said that the next major milestone before construction can begin is striking a development agreement with DHHL, which he described as more complicated in this case because of the development’s size and specific conditions that have to be met — one of which is navigating federal fair housing guidelines because of such a narrowly targeted tenant base of only Native Hawaiians.
He added it’s hard to answer when the development agreement will be completed but said, “We are engaged daily on the matter.”…
MN: Homestead summit advances ideas
read … Native Hawaiians concerned DHHL housing development dragging
SA: …Although DPP issues about 20,000 building permits a year, long delays in processing permits have been a problem for more than a decade, sometimes because of (insert excuse here)….
The City Council took a step toward correction last week with approval of Bill 64, which requires DPP to process applications for one- and two-family dwellings within 60 days of receiving them. The measure puts in place a foundation for a much-needed timeframe on what has been an open-ended process….
In exchange for skipping some of what’s now a potentially lengthy front-end checklist, the applicant would agree to abide by DPP decisions made during the construction phase. If an inspection at a work site turns up red flags, a project could be halted or even dismantled. The onus would be on the applicant to hammer out a solid construction plan from the get-go.
That may be easier said than done, however. DPP’s acting director, Kathy Sokugawa, has opposed the bill, contending that a hasty front-end assessment could result in longer back-end delays — ultimately holding up issuance of a certificate of occupancy.
Further, she warned that if the measure misfires by touching off more stops and and starts, it could result in essentially prioritizing service for one- and two-family dwellings. Permit-seekers for other types of projects could then be left cooling their heels for longer stretches at Honolulu Hale….
read … DPP must correct lack of efficiency
Maui: Will Planning Comm Water Down $20K/day TVR Fines?
MN: …some residents like Smith were concerned when they saw the bill drafted by the Planning Department, which would not only punish illegal operators with the $20,000 fine, but also levy the same fine on any short-term rentals, bed-and-breakfasts and conditional permit holders who violated the terms of their permits. The draft bill came before the Maui Planning Commission on Tuesday.
Administrative planning officer David Raatz said that the department was open to changing the bill to allow a fine “up to $20,000,” instead of requiring that all fines be the same. He said the department was also open to removing the sections that penalized legal operators who violated their permits with the same $20,000 fine.
Rental operators like Smith said they would not knowingly risk losing the permits they worked so hard to get.
“All the permit holders that I know would not knowingly endanger their permit or break the law, but it’s possible to unknowingly do it,” Smith said.
Many of those violations occur when booking websites or places like Craigslist run ads without the operator’s knowledge and don’t label those ads with a proper permit number.
Huelo bed-and-breakfast operator Sharyn Stone said that she tried running ads on booking.com for six months before realizing she had “made a deal with the devil.” She said the travel website continues to run her ads even though she has asked them to take it down, as do several offshoot websites of booking.com. She said if people tried to make a reservation with her bed-and-breakfast on one of these websites, they would be told those dates were unavailable and be advised to look for alternatives.
“They refuse to take down those listings,” Stone said. “Those listings do not have permit numbers. Booking.com will not acknowledge these listings even exist despite being sent screenshots showing they do. They tell me there’s something wrong with my browser. Now I may be a techie idiot, but I’m not that stupid.”…
The bill went to the Molokai Planning Commission on Wednesday and will head to the Lanai Planning Commission on Dec. 12, said McLean, adding that based on the public input, the department will likely make the changes before the bill goes to the council.
Raatz said Tuesday that he wasn’t sure whether the bill could get enacted by Jan. 2, when the council is inaugurated. If not, he said the goal is to get it passed shortly after….
When she first got a permit to run a short-term rental on her 20-acre coffee farm in Makawao, Sydney Smith was required to put a sign on her property to inform the neighbors.
But since she started operating, the sign has been stolen three times. And each time, the lack of a sign meant Smith was technically violating her permit….
SA Editorial: Vacation rentals need strict control
read … Draft form of bill to penalize illegal short-term rentals under discussion