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Tuesday, January 2, 2018
January 2, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:28 PM :: 2803 Views

Best Place to Find a Job? With Record Low Unemployment Honolulu Still Ranks 42nd

Greasing the HSTA: Ige Requests $174M More In Education Spending

CB: …Gov. David Ige’s supplemental budget request to the Hawaii Legislature for next fiscal year includes an additional $24 million in state Department of Education operating funds and an extra $150 million for public school improvement projects, including the construction of an elementary school on Oahu.

Tucked within the request is a modest $2 million increase to the weighted student formula, the method that determines per-pupil-funding. But it proposes funding for other areas previously overlooked, such as $4.1 million in workers’ compensation benefits for injured DOE employees, students and volunteers.

Other notable education-related items in Ige’s supplemental budget request include $1 million to expand Early College learning programs in the public schools, $2.8 million to broaden school-based health services under the Hawaii Keiki program and $3.1 million to purchase equipment for newly constructed school facilities.

“We can provide opportunities for the future by investing in our people and ensuring that the appropriate educational programs and training are available,” the governor’s budget brief stated….

read … Ige’s Request For Millions More In Education Spending

Monster Homes: Panic Sets in as Residents find way to Create Affordable Housing

SA: …In mid-October when the Honolulu City Council began to tackle complaints from residents that “monster houses” were becoming problematic in older neighborhoods like Kalihi, DPP said it had processed 23 applications for large-scale homes with eight or more bedrooms, what the department tentatively has used to define monster houses.

There have been 15 applications submitted since then, bringing the total to 44 as of Dec. 23, the department said….

Meanwhile, complaints have been growing and city inspectors have been ramping up on the enforcement end.

DPP reported that as of Thursday, its building inspection branch had created 65 requests for investigation in response to complaints generated in recent months.

In October, the department had reported it had closed investigations into complaints at large homes at 20 addresses islandwide, issuing violation notices for eight of them.

The department was criticized by Council members who said they believed the 20 addresses represented only a small fraction of the houses that needed investigation…. 

Big Q: Will transit-oriented development (TOD) help ease Oahu’s housing shortage?

SA: Get control of ‘monster’ houses on Oahu

read … Permit applications for ‘monster’ homes on the rise

Varona Village 20 Years Still Waiting for City to Keep Affordable Housing Promise

HNN: …It's a new year, but nothing has changed for residents in a neglected former plantation community. In early 2017, Varona Village residents had renewed hope for a long-awaited redevelopment plan. The city finally issued a request for proposals, but then the deadline was pushed back three times and the year ended with another disappointing delay.

"It's not promising because of all of these delays. It's almost kind of a repeat of the many, many, many years it was happening," said resident Mike Esquibil. "I'm just afraid that history is going to repeat itself and we'll be forgotten again."

The selection was supposed to be done by December 29. A city spokesman said that was a target date assuming that offers would not require further clarification or discussion.

"I'm mad, but it's like I don't have peace of mind," said resident Crescencia Malate.

The city had promised to rehabilitate the Varona Village homes more than 20 years ago and sell them to plantation families at affordable prices.

"I don't know if they're going to follow what they said before," said resident Lucena Tapauan.

Several of the plantation workers and their spouses have died while waiting for the city to follow through on its commitment….

read … Residents of former plantation village fed up with latest redevelopment delay

Kauai Affordable Rentals almost non-existent

KGI: …Recently, she checked out a rental unit on the Westside for a couple who needed on-island eyes for their search, and found a 500-square-foot room that was going for $2,000 per month. The space was divided into two rooms with a living room and a kitchen.

“You could barely turn around in any of the rooms and what the landlords were doing was planning on upping that rent to a two bedroom,” Rosenfeld said. “I think we should all give more than we take.”

A month in a hostel would cost around $1,400, she reasoned, and that’s not an appropriate situation for families….

The first place she saw was a screened lanai with a bathroom that was being hailed a studio for $1,100 per month. The second was listed as a two-bedroom, two-bath, for $1,700 plus utilities. Thompson said that and ended up being a 15 x 25 room with two smaller rooms attached….

CB: Making Downtown Lihue Cool Again

read … Tiny houses could bring big relief

Cesspools Could be used to make Housing Even More Unaffordable

SA: …Hawaii lawmakers should revisit a point-of-sale provision similar to the one prodding progress in Rhode Island, which has the second-largest cesspool tally nationwide. New cesspools were banned there 50 years ago. The phase-out, however, was sluggish until just three years ago, when Rhode Island adopted a provision requiring the scrapping of a cesspool system after sale of a property. Either the buyer or the seller pays for the upgrade, which can become part of the overall sale negotiation.

A similar pitch proposed by Hawaii’s DOH made it to former Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s desk, but it was never signed. Opponents contended that the cost discriminated against low-income residents and expressed doubts about cesspool- related dangers….

read … Speed up the closure of polluting cesspools

6,232 Fewer People on Food Stamps

HTH: … The number of food stamp recipients on Hawaii Island dropped slightly in 2017, continuing an ongoing trend for the federal program.

While 37,964 people in on the Big Island benefited from the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program — often referred to as food stamps — by the end of November 2016, only 37,349 did so by the same time in 2017, according to data from the Hawaii Department of Human Services.

The decline reflects an ongoing trend in SNAP participation since 2015. That year, an average of nearly 40,000 people per month benefited from SNAP on the island.

According to the data, $9,113,778 in benefits was distributed to island residents in 2017, with each participant receiving, on average, $244.02 per person. This marks an increase from 2016, when beneficiaries received an average of $237.44 per person, for a total cost of $9,014,257.

Statewide, total SNAP participants dropped from 148,848 in 2016, to 142,616 in 2017.

Since 2016, the number of Hawaii Island households benefiting from SNAP has decreased from 18,236 to 18,010. Meanwhile, the average household size on food stamps has only nominally increased, from 2.05 people in 2016 to 2.07 people in 2017 ….

read … Big Island food stamp use down

Hawaii Is Still Waiting For An Audit Of Police Property Seizures

CB: …A report that was due before the 2017 legislative session is now expected sometime during the 2018 session….

read … Hawaii Is Still Waiting For An Audit Of Police Property Seizures

Help for Rail-Impacted Businesses Was All Talk

CB: …Two years ago, the Honolulu City Council created a fund to help businesses hurt by construction of the 20-mile long rail project. But there was a hitch: the council never appropriated any money for it.

Then last April, the council put a line item in the budget for fiscal year 2018, which began July 1 and ends June 30, offering $2 million in property tax breaks to businesses suffering losses from work on the rail line.

With five months left to go in the fiscal year and no effort to distribute those tax breaks, that offer is looking like an empty promise.

“At this point we’re not sure how we’d administer those funds,” said Councilman Joey Manahan, who added the tax breaks to the budget. … 

CB: Honolulu Must Help Businesses Hurt By Rail Construction

read … Phoney Baloney

Liquefied Natural Gas Fight Erupts Anew in Hawaii

IM: THE GAS COMPANY, LLC dba HAWAII GAS filed a rate hike application with the Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission. The deadline to file a motion to intervene or to participate is today. Last week, the first motion to intervene was filed by 350 Hawai`i, represented by Sherry Pollack, Vice President for Community Organizing and Action.

Climate change isn't a distant, abstract problem — it's here now. People all over the world are feeling (FEEEELINGS!) the impacts, from island nations that are going underwater (NOT!), to indigenous land being exploited for fossil (bio) fuel extraction. The fight against climate change is a fight for (just-us) justice,” proclaims the 350.org website….

(If this was electricity, we’d be all-in for any rate hike.)

The motion to intervene asserts that “350 Hawaii is an unincorporated association of professors, activists, professionals, students and retirees (and hippie potheads) in Hawaii doing what we can to fight climate change in our piece of the world. Everything we have struggled to move forward in the United States is in peril.  (Translation: Trump scares us.) Our loved ones feel under siege. (Translation: Trump scares us.) We are standing up to the fossil fuel industry to stop all new coal, oil and gas projects, and build clean energy solutions that work for all (Silicon Valley billionaires). We must ensure governments stop this madness (we admit we are mad) of putting profit before people and allowing special interests (like us) to contribute to the climate crisis (hysteria).”….

read … Liquefied Natural Gas Fight Erupts Anew in Hawaii

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