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Thursday, December 24, 2020
December 24, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:20 PM :: 3171 Views

How Christmas Came to Hawaii

Report: Oahu affordable housing shortage worsened in FY 2019

Hawaii Joins Democrat States Proposing Changes to Obamacare

Caldwell signs key climate bills and releases 2020 City Sustainability Report

Aloha Stadium Draft EIS Released

DHHL Casino Proposal Rushed Reaction to Waitlist Reporting

Caldwell, Amemiya Owe Public Answers On Surveillance Scheme

CB: … As of this writing Mayor Kirk Caldwell and his managing director Roy Amemiya, who were unhappy with Happy’s performance, haven’t said anything about the surveillance except to confirm it happened….

the (Caldwell-appointed) Honolulu Police Commission (only) wants answers from Ballard. … it should happen sooner than Jan. 6, when the commission is planning to question Ballard about the operation.

And Caldwell, who terms out Jan. 2 and is considering a run for governor, should come clean now (instead of getting away scot-free leaving Ballard to take the rap)….

(KEY FACT: If Ballard is forced out, she WILL be replaced by a Kealoha clone.)

read … Mayor, Police Chief Owe Public Answers On Surveillance Scheme

Hawaii to delay state furloughs after virus relief bill passes

SA: … Gov. David Ige today said the passage of a new coronavirus relief bill by the U.S. Congress this week has prompted him to delay the implementation of state worker furloughs previously due to begin on Jan. 1.

Ige wrote in an email to state employees that he wasn’t able to say when furloughs would begin, adding “this is a very fluid situation.” ….

(Translation: Furloughs are just a sham to justify tax hikes.)

read … Hawaii to delay state furloughs after virus relief bill passes

Caldwell, Robbins Next Failure: Keep Building Rail in Phases Forever

SA: … Today, transit officials are saying the whole line likely won’t be done until at least 2028, perhaps longer if funding cannot keep up with the construction timetable. The project’ price tag is now $10 billion, factoring in financing costs.

In the last year alone, the project was delayed an additional six months and the total cost was revised upward by about $1 billion, although Robbins insisted most of that was caused by the economic impacts caused by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

Most city officials, including Robbins and Mayor Kirk Caldwell, have concluded that finishing of the project will need to be done in phases due to the anticipated slowdown in hotel room and excise tax revenues, the two main sources of funding for the project.

“It’s going to have to be figured out, how to phase the project,” Robbin said. He stressed, however, that all governmental agencies at all branches of government are committed to building the entire line to Ala Moana….

read … Honolulu rail line on verge of opening

Hawaii vacation rentals 32% occupancy in November—outpace hotels

PBN: … Hawaii vacation rentals outpaced hotels when it came to occupancy rate during November, according to the latest data released Tuesday by Hawaii Tourism Authority.

According to HTA’s monthly Hawaii Vacation Rental Performance Report, vacation rentals throughout the state were nearly 32% occupied last month. The figure marks a 37 percentage point drop compared to November of 2019, when vacation rental units were 69% occupied. The occupancy rate reflects a unit supply of more than 555,000 unit nights (down 35%) and a demand of more than 175,400 unit nights (down 70%).

For comparison, hotels statewide were 22% occupied during November, or 19% when calculated based on 2019 supply, with a demand of 307,600 room nights (down 76%) and a supply of 1.4 million room nights (down 14%).

The average daily rate, or ADR, for vacation rentals fell by 24% to $230. That’s the same as the ADR for hotels during November. 

SA: Kauai left out as vacation rental recovery improves

read … Hawaii vacation rentals saw declines in occupancy, supply and demand during November

Mayor Kawakami requests ‘resort bubble’ alternative to Safe Travels Program

KHON: … Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami sent a proposal to Gov. David Ige during the week of Monday, Dec. 21, that would allow incoming Kauai passengers who received a pre-travel test to quarantine at an approved “resort bubble.” Participants would then take a post-travel test three days after arrival and be released from quarantine after the second negative result comes in….

TGI: Kaua‘i proposes rule independent of state’s Safe Travels  

PBN: Kauai proposes post-travel testing option for resort bubbles

read … Mayor Kawakami requests ‘resort bubble’ alternative to Safe Travels Program

Kauai Building Homeless Housing Units

CB: … Pua Loke is a 22-unit grouping of custom built studio and one-bedroom apartments — each with its own bathroom and kitchen — that, while still unfinished, is currently home to 42 formerly homeless people. According to county Housing Agency Director Adam Roversi, the complex has already been able to absorb nearly all of the homeless families who had previously been living in four county beach parks.

The project, including the services it provided to residents, is being built at a total cost of $28 million, though only $500,000 in county money is involved. The rest is direct federal spending and other sources related to the federal government….

Roversi said the wraparound service aspect of Pua Loke is designed to help residents succeed in their efforts to stay housed. Many so-called affordable housing projects, he said, attract people who “traditionally are able to move in but get kicked out very soon. Usually, they’re back on the streets within a couple of months.”

Construction costs were kept low, Roversi said, by use of on-site modular construction techniques. Pua Loke was built for about $100 per square foot, versus $300 to $500 for more conventional construction, he said.

The project has already been so successful that the county is in negotiations for additional state-owned land next door so Pua Loke can expand. The county is actively planning for perhaps as many as four more similar projects, Roversi said, which in theory could accommodate the vast majority of the estimated 450 homeless people on the island….

read … Could This Housing Project Be A Model For Addressing Homelessness On Kauai?

PUC OKs regulatory changes for Hawaiian Electric

WHT: … Effectively, the new framework — called a Performance-Based Regulatory framework, or PBR framework — would, in part, institute financial controls for Hawaiian Electric in an effort to rein in ever-ballooning energy costs. At the same time, Hawaiian Electric would receive financial incentives for reaching certain performance metrics, and penalties for failing to reach them.

(Translation: HECO will be paid to shut down diesel plants and replace them with Elon Musk batteries.  You are the one who will be paying for this.)

Longtime industry watcher Marco Mangelsdorf, owner of Hilo solar company ProVision Solar, said the new framework is “very bold and ambitious” and upends what has been the predominant energy regulatory strategy for decades.

“PBR is really new stuff,” Mangelsdorf said. “There’s been pockets of adoption here and there, but it’s not very widespread, so there’s not really a lot of data on how it will work in the real world. It’s very cutting-edge.”

Mangelsdorf said the PUC appears to be “keenly aware” of how unsustainable the current trajectory of increasing electric rates under the previous model is, but added that stabilizing, let alone reducing, those rates is effectively impossible without substantial cost controls.

In particular, Mangelsdorf said the balance between incentivizing and penalizing Hawaiian Electric will be a delicate one to maintain.

“No company wants to be penalized, but penalties have to have teeth, otherwise, why would they pay attention to them at all?” Mangelsdorf said. “So they’ve got to hit that balance, with sharp enough penalties without spooking the investor class. … You can’t spook the money people.”

While average Hawaiian Electric customers might expect rates to fall in the future, based on the new framework, Mangelsdorf said he expects the process will be slow and will only reveal its success or failure after years.

(Translation: Your rates are going up.)

Clean energy advocacy nonprofit Blue Planet Foundation applauded the PUC’s announcement with a statement Wednesday, saying Hawaii is now “at the leading edge for realigning the electric utility business with a 100% clean energy future.”…

KHON: New regulations for Hawaiian Electric equal savings on electric bills

SA: Caldwell signs three bills addressing parking, solar permitting and climate change

read … PUC OKs regulatory changes for Hawaiian Electric

Hawaii Joins Legal Battle Over Telework Tax

CB: … Hawaii wants the U.S. Supreme Court to prohibit states from levying income tax on people who work from home in another state….

As jobs move online and companies consider keeping some work remote even after the coronavirus pandemic, states are jockeying for the legal authority to tax the income of residents who telework for an out-of-state employer.

At stake is billions of dollars in tax revenue.

On Tuesday Hawaii joined more than a dozen states in filing a brief petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to take up an October lawsuit filed by the state of New Hampshire that seeks to block Massachusetts from taxing New Hampshire residents who no longer commute across state lines for work….

The lawsuit claims that it is unconstitutional for Massachusetts to tax income “earned entirely outside its borders.”

The issue has national implications.

Six states tax people based on the location of their employer, even if they work remotely from another state. These tax rules are permanent in Arkansas, Delaware, Nebraska, New York and Pennsylvania, whereas the policy in Massachusetts is a new, temporary response to the coronavirus pandemic….

read … Hawaii Joins Legal Battle Over Telework Tax

Caldwell announces new H-POWER contract to recycle ash, prevent it from going into Oahu landfills

SA: … Instead of going into the landfill, the ash byproduct of H-POWER would be treated and cleaned and could then potentially be used as construction material. Metals that are recovered from the ash would be recycled as well.

Annually, H-POWER, or Honolulu Program Of Waste Energy Recovery, produces approximately 180,000 tons of ash, which currently goes to the Waimanalo Gulch landfill in Kapolei.

The contract reduces the ash by 60%, according to Lori Kahikina, director of the Department of Environmental Services, and efforts to do so have been a years-long effort.

“ENV has been working since the beginning of our term to find a viable option for the ash byproduct of H-POWER as the industry needed time to develop the appropriate technology,” Kahikina said in a release. “Honolulu will be one of the first to deploy this type of technology to ‘clean’ and reuse the ash versus disposing of it at WGSL. We are proud of the progressiveness of our H-POWER facility.” ….

“One of my top priorities has been to close the landfill and the ash was the remaining trash that kept it open on a weekly basis,” said Pine in the statement. “This contract will also relieve the backlog of disposing of abandoned vehicles throughout the city. No community should ever have a landfill again. It is just unconscionable to put toxic trash into the earth on an island.”…. 

SA: Keeping ash out of landfill

PBN: City awards nearly $60 million contract to reduce H-POWER ash

read … Caldwell announces new H-POWER contract to recycle ash, prevent it from going into Oahu landfills

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