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Tuesday, May 8, 2018
May 8, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:59 PM :: 2774 Views

Homeless Count Drops 10% Statewide as More are Pressured to Accept Shelter

Rewrite of Hawaii Environmental Rules -- Public Hearings Set

Follow the Money? Not so Easy in Hawaii

Best States for Working Moms -- Hawaii Ranks 24th

Confessions of a Third-World Resident

Volcano Update: 12 Fissures Opened

Best & Worst States to Be a Police Officer

HART’s Latest Rail Contract Is For $400M — Twice What It Had Estimated

CB: …Honolulu’s rail agency has awarded the project’s next major contract: a work package valued at as much as $400 million to relocate utilities along the route’s last four miles into town.

Nan Inc., a local firm, will get the contract, according to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

Unlike the announcements of past major contracts, HART did not reveal what Nan actually bid for the work. The rail agency also offered no explanation Monday of why the contract’s maximum price tag is double what it estimated seven months ago.

Originally, the utility relocation work was part of the overall construction package to build rail’s final four miles of track and stations. By separating it, project officials hope to drive down the risk and uncertainty associated with those utility lines — and better control costs in the process.

However, the “not-to-exceed” award amount of $400 million is twice the cost that HART officials gave in late October, when Executive Director Andrew Robbins and Project Director Sam Carnaggio estimated the utility work at about $200 million….

The contract’s award amount also differed from the price that Nan, Inc. listed in its proposal, Brennan said. He said he didn’t have the firm’s price available….

SA: HART awards $400 million contract to relocate utilities to make way for Honolulu rail

read … HART’s Latest Rail Contract Is For $400M — Twice What It Had Estimated

Running Down HSTA’s Propaganda on Rental Tax

HSTA President: …The Legislature, which would set up the surcharge next year if voters approve the constitutional amendment, does not want this surcharge to apply to owner-occupants. Instead, it is aimed at owners of second or third homes worth $1 million or more.

(Reality: It is ‘aimed’ at whoever the Legislature decides to aim it at.  The primary ‘investment real estate’ is rental units so renters and small businesses will be paying for this boondoggle.)

Several years ago, Trump Towers quickly sold out more than 400 units, with some condos selling for more than $10 million. Many wealthy people use these properties for investments. If these rich out-of-state investors can afford multimillion-dollar properties, they can afford to pay taxes to help educate Hawaii’s children. 

(IQ Test: Do you believe this is a tax on Donald Trump?  Are you really that dumb?)

Leaders of the House and Senate made it clear that they do not intend to create a surcharge that would affect the average Hawaii resident  (apparently renters are not ‘average’.). Owner-occupants would be exempt , and even those who own second or third homes or condos would only be affected for each property valued over $1 million. We do not want to tax the average homeowner (Yup.  Just renters.  Notice how renters are never mentioned in this screed?  They think you won’t notice.).

The proposed constitutional amendment goes after the speculators who are buying up so much property (landlords) that it’s driving up the cost of living so people can’t afford to live in Hawaii (and we will drive up the cost of rent even more.).

Vote “yes” on the constitutional amendment for two major reasons: it discourages speculators who are driving up the cost of living (affordable rental units) in Hawaii while investing in the future of our keiki (by forcing more young families to move to the Mainland, thus reducing the number of annoying students we HSTA members have to deal with)….

read … Corey Rosenlee President of Hawaii State Teachers Association -- Debunked

Kim budget gives each Councilmember $30K ‘Reelect Me’ Money

WHT:  Mayor Harry Kim inched his annual spending plan up another $2.3 million in his proposed budget delivered Monday to the County Council.

The budget adds $500,000 to grants for nonprofits, restoring the allocation to its previous level of $1.5 million. It also puts $270,000 into the council contingency fund, giving the nine council members $30,000 each to spread around their districts. This past year, they had $75,000 each….

read … Kim’s revised budget inches up more

HB2110: Microgrid Bill Means More Rate Hikes Coming

PBN: …House Bill 2110, which was passed by state lawmakers on the final day of this year's legislative session, will direct the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission to establish a microgrid services tariff, which is set to encourage the development and use of energy-resilient microgrids….

(The usual suspects) Kyle Datta, general partner of Honolulu-based Ulupono Initiative, said in written testimony. "Microgrid projects can provide communities and organizations with a faster path for incorporating renewable energy production and storage projects."  (Translation: Rate hikes.)

Blue Planet Foundation said in its testimony that the development of microgrids in Hawaii has been been "inhibited by a number of factors." The nonprofit pointed to interconnection barriers and a lack of a standard of terms between the utility and microgrid operators as reasons why only few microgrids have been developed so far. (Translation: Rate hikes.)

While Hawaiian Electric supported the bill, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative opposed the measure, saying it "may result in unintended consequences adverse to the public interest (particularly to KIUC's member-owners) by unduly limiting and restricting the commission in how it can address these issues."…(Translation: Rate hikes.)

Gov. David Ige has 40 days from the passage of the bill, which was May 3, to either sign it, veto it or let it become law without his signature.

Another gird resiliency bill, HB2249, which would have established the Homeland Security and Resiliency Council, failed to advance from conference committee at the end of April….

IM: Public Utilities Commission Will Open Microgrid Docket

read … Rate Hikes Coming

Maui Solar Farm Laughs All the Way to the Bank

PBN: …On Saturday, Kenyon Energy, in partnership with Maui Electric Co., flipped the switch on its new 2.87-megawatt solar farm on the Valley Isle south side. The 11.3-acre project, which is located on land owned and managed by Haleakala Ranch Co., is producing electricity for MECO's nearly 70,000 customers on Maui, Molokai and Lanai at 11.06 cents per kilowatt hour, according to a news release…. 

(They charge wholesale for irregular electricity what average people on the mainland pay retail for real electricity.)

Maui Electric and Kenyon Energy are collaborating on another project, Kuia Solar in West Maui. The utility will also purchase power from the 2.87-MW project, which is expected to come online later in this month.

Both projects were initially supposed to be in operation by Dec. 31, 2016, Maui News reported last month. However, unable to meet their deadlines the projects secured two extensions, according to Public Utilities Commission filings.

Despite the extensions, the newspaper reported that as of Feb. 24, each project had piled up $76,500 in delay damages.

During the fourth quarter of 2017, MECO's renewable energy portfolio was a little over 34 percent, putting Maui County ahead of the state's 2020 target of 30 percent. The majority of MECO renewable energy is currently generated by wind farms and almost 12,000 residential rooftop solar systems.

Kenyon Energy, which is owned by Sun Financial, also owns and operates a 400 kilowatt solar project in Waianea. The Oahu project was completed in October 2014.

read … Maui's first large-scale solar project goes online

TopGolf: P3 Partnership to Reinvigorate Muni Golf on Oahu?

SA: …By partnering with the city on the driving range, Topgolf would invest $50 million of non-public funds in a multi-tiered high tech range along the lines of 40 others it operates in the U. S. and abroad. It would, organizers pledge, exist in the same footprint as the current range.

The deal calls for Topgolf to pay the city at least $1.02 million in rent on a graduating scale plus 1 percent of its gross revenue on sales.

Announcement of the deal comes at a time when sustainability is a growing issue as golf courses, especially public ones, are hard pressed to keep up the kind of revenue numbers required to maintain and support their bottom lines.

Olomana closed briefly last month before paying the state $115,275 in delinquent rent to re-open.

The Topgolf agreement is an example of the so-called “p-3” — public-private partnership — deals that cities and states are increasingly looking at to help fund operations.

Even the Ala Wai, which was home to 220,000 rounds in its heyday, has seen traffic drop to almost half of that. A city official has said the Ala Wai driving range brings in $500,000-$600,000 in annual gross revenue. The numbers are projected to grow significantly with the appeal of the new technology.

Overall, revenues have been dropping at the six city-owned courses….

SA: Let non-golfers use Ala Wai Golf Course

read … TopGolf

Ethics: Two-of Nine Hawaii County Council Members Own TVRs

WHT: The county Board of Ethics made quick work Monday agreeing that Kohala Councilman Tim Richards doesn’t have a conflict of interest voting on a vacation rental bill, even though he and his wife operate a vacation rental themselves.

The rental on the family’s Kahua Ranch property in Waimea, zoned agriculture, brought in between $50,000 and $100,000 last year, according to Richards’ amended financial disclosure.

Richards filed the amended report Feb. 12, the day West Hawaii Today and the Hawaii Tribune-Herald newspapers published an article about North Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff’s failure to disclose her vacation rental income on her annual form. Richards’ original disclosure filed Jan. 31 did not list the rental income.

Eoff also filed an amended report after the article was published. Eoff, co-sponsor of Bill 108, also asked for an opinion and was cleared by the Ethics Board. Her vacation rental is in the Kailua-Kona resort district.

Bill 108 is an attempt to prohibit unhosted short-term rentals in residential and agricultural zones, while allowing them in hotel and resort zones. Existing rentals in good standing in the disallowed areas would be able to apply for a nonconforming use certificate that must be renewed annually for a $500 fee.

read … Ethics Board clears Richards on vacation rental bill

Vacation rentals in disaster areas

IM: Former PUC chair Mina Morita, who also served in the State House from 1997-2011, used her Facebook page yesterday to call attention to problems now apparently being caused by renters of transient vacation units in the flood-damaged part of Kauai. “Some people still attempting to use TVR’s in the Wainiha-Haena area to vacation! And trying to get resident passes to get in!….”

Meanwhile, over on the Big Island, I saw another comment indicating there may be some problems getting refunds when visitors cancel because of the eruption….

KGI: Should tourists be allowed to visit the flood-impacted areas on the North Shore?

read … Vacation rentals in disaster areas

East Hawaii is Affordable Housing Secret

SA: …One-acre lots can be bought for $4,000 or $5,000 in Nanawale Estates, where a two-bedroom home is on the market for $74,900.

At Leilani Estates, a subdivision created in 1964 with paved roads, a community center, ball fields, meeting facilities, a playground and a fitness trail, 1-acre lots go for around $20,000, and homes are available for around $100,000 to $200,000 at the low end.

Median single-family home prices in April were $790,000 on Oahu, $725,000 on Maui, $640,000 on Kauai and $409,500 on Hawaii island.

On Hawaii island, Puna accounts for more single-family home sales than any other region, according to Hawaii Island Realtors data….

read … Red Hot Deals

‘Raw Elements’ Profiteering on Anti-Sunscreen Hysteria

SA: The Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa announced Monday that it has partnered with Raw Elements USA to offer reef-safe sunscreen at dispensers throughout the resort fronted by Puu Kekaa, or Black Rock, at Kaanapali Beach.

The announcement comes a week after the Hawaii State Legislature passed a bill that would prohibit the sales and distribution of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, which scientists have deemed harmful to coral reefs and marine life. If signed by Gov. David Ige, the law would go into effect in 2021.

Hawaiian Airlines in April partnered with Raw Elements to offer samples of its “Eco Formula” sunscreen to passengers on all flights from the U.S. mainland to Hawaii while airing an educational, in-flight video, “Reefs at Risk.”

read … Hysteria is Profitable

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