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Thursday, March 28, 2024
March 28, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:29 PM :: 1297 Views

A hard look at the root causes of the exodus

Council resolution exemplifies why we still have housing crisis

Green Maui Update: Will not seize TVRs

‘I hope you die a slow and painful death’--Student 'triggered' by Israeli flags at UH Manoa 

Hawaii #1 for Jaywalking Tickets

Tourism Arrivals and Spending Down

Lahaina Rebuild Still Blocked: “No Permits Until Later this Year”

AP: … The fire destroyed 3,971 properties and caused $4 billion to $6 billion in property damage.

Of these properties, 561 were occupied by homeowners. One-quarter of these lots have already been cleared of debris, Green said.

“That means they’re going to get permits sometime later this year to begin to rebuild back in Lahaina,” Green said, while acknowledging water, sewer and electricity service will need to be restored to these lots….

read … Hawaii says 30 Lahaina fire survivors are moving into housing daily but 3,000 are still in hotels | AP News

How Many Miske Codefendants got release from detention after a guilty plea?

ILind: … Miske and the first 10 co-defendants were indicted in June 2020. The indictment was originally sealed to allow time to organize the defendants’ arrests, most of which were done in a simultaneous pre-dawn sweep by federal agents on July 15, 2020. I’ve heard allegations that HPD wasn’t involved because the FBI feared their plans would be leaked to Miske, although I’ve seen no evidence to support this.

Jarrin Young was held in the Federal Detention Center from the time of his arrest until he was recently sentenced to time already served, and released. He still will remain under court supervised release for three years.

I think only two defendants, Preston Kimoto and Hunter Wilson, were quickly released pending trial based on pretrial reports by the court’s pretrial services office, both subject to specific conditions.

Michael Buntenbah was released on bond three months later following a successful appeal of his continued detention to Judge Derrick Watson.

Jason Yokoyama and Delia Fabro-Miske, who were added as defendants in a superseding indictment, were also released pending trial….

In two cases, violations of the terms of release led to new arrests, return to detention, and in one case to an additional charge that resulted in a guilty plea, demonstrating the consequences when defendants abuse conditional release.

Preston Kimoto was free when he was rearrested for witness tampering after threatening a witness in his case. Following this arrest, he entered into a plea deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty, but remains in detention pending sentencing.

Michael Buntenbah remained free after his guilty plea, but was rearrested earlier this year after attacking a man in a Waikiki bar. His release on bond was revoked, and his bail was forfeited by court order….

ILind: Who’s in and who’s out

read … Question about release from detention after a guilty plea | i L i n d

What Is The Real Cost Of Affordable Housing In Hawaii?

CB: … Excluding 9% tax credit projects, which should yield around 150 units annually, the state requires an average of $369,000 per unit from the rental Housing Trust Fund for each new 4% tax credit unit.

The lower the rental HTF, the higher the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program needs to be but there are tax limitations on amount. This estimation applies to garden-style developments with a mix of unit sizes, which cost a lot less than high-rise buildings with elevators.

According to the 2023 summary list released by HHFDC, $135,000 per unit was allocated from the rental Housing Trust Fund for 4% credits at 60% area median income. This was a mix of types and sizes. One was as high as $312,000.

Additionally, it is a misconception that workforce housing units (ranging from 61% to 140% AMI) do not require funding. While higher AMI levels necessitate less funding ($261,000 average), all possibilities must be considered….

read … What Is The Real Cost Of Affordable Housing In Hawaii?

Hawaii Senate Committee’s Spending Plan Includes Hundreds Of Millions For Maui Fire Costs

CB: … Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz said that Gov. Josh Green’s administration still has not presented a clear plan to the Legislature for moving families who were displaced by the Aug. 8 wildfire fire out of hotels and into less expensive shelter arrangements.

Dela Cruz raised that as a particular concern, warning that the Federal Emergency Management Agency funding for shelter for those families may end in June.

“If non-congregate sheltering continues beyond June, it seems the state will have to cover 100% of the cost for FEMA-ineligible households if families are not transitioned to temporary and permanent housing options,” he said.

The state signed a $500 million contract with the Red Cross to provide shelter, meals and other support services for people displaced by the fires, a deal that is costing $1,000 per day per family for people staying in West Maui hotels.

The state must pay that money up front and then seek reimbursement from FEMA, a process that sometimes takes years. Even more troubling, the state initially expected FEMA would pay 90% of the costs under the Red Cross contract, but FEMA has so far declined to pay many of those costs.

Negotiations are ongoing over which families the state must pay for, and which families are eligible for federal support. Senators were told on Feb. 20 that 820 households had been deemed ineligible for federal support, and then told on Feb. 29 that number had dropped to 659 families.

More recently, staff for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said on March 4 the number of ineligible families stood at 555, but described that as a snapshot in time. According to HIEMA, the ineligible families and individuals include undocumented noncitizens and people who were homeless before the fire….

A new draft of House Bill 679 approved by the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday includes the emergency appropriations to cover the unanticipated wildfire-related costs for the fiscal year that ends June 30.

The administration initially used about $200 million in cash that Green redirected from various programs and projects into the Major Disaster Fund to pay for the response to the fire, and the new draft of HB 679 would provide another $297 million for food, shelter and support services for families displaced by the fire.

That same bill also includes $65 million as the state’s share of the One Ohana Bank Trust Account to compensate survivors of those killed in the fire or those who were seriously injured….

SA: Rosier state budget picture projected by Gov. Green

read … Hawaii Senate Committee’s Spending Plan Includes Hundreds Of Millions For Maui Fire Costs

EPA’s integrity is questioned for withholding Red Hill tests

SA: … The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also detected “abnormally high levels of TPH” in drinking water samples from two piers. EPA Region 9 Director Amy Miller sent an email on Tuesday notifying Red Hill Community Representation Initiative board Chair Marti Townsend of the tests.

In the email, Miller said that later “validated” test results had determined that the samples tested were actually below the “method detection limit” and thus deemed safe. But members of the CRI expressed frustration that EPA is sharing information about the testing after a community meeting last Thursday.

“To get this email after the CRI meeting happened, and they had had this information since the beginning of March, is a huge red flag,” said Mandy Feidnt, a member of the CRI, who said that it “calls the EPA’s integrity into question.”

As of press time, officials did not specify at which school the results were found.

The CRI is made up of a mixture of local residents and activists along with people directly affected by the Red Hill water crisis, which began in November 2021 when fuel from the Navy’s bulk Red Hill fuel storage facility entered and contaminated the Navy’s Oahu water system, which serves 93,000 people. The CRI was created as part of a federal consent order involving the EPA, state Department of Health and military regarding the closure of Red Hill…. 

HNN: The face of military’s Red Hill response reflects on defueling effort and next steps

AP: US military drains fuel from tank facility that leaked fuel into Pearl Harbor's drinking water

WILPF: Mandy Feindt — Military Poisons

read … EPA’s integrity is questioned for withholding Red Hill tests

DPP to Replace 30-year old Computer System

SA: … DPP Director Dawn Takeuchi Apuna said that when Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s administration took office in 2021 her department was still using an antiquated pneumatic tube system to transfer money payments from one location to the another inside DPP offices.

“We are moving well beyond pneumatic tubes, we aren’t going to suck anymore!” she declared at a Wednesday morning news conference inside Honolulu Hale.

In that vein, Takeuchi Apuna said DPP will move away from its late 1990s-era POSSE permitting software system and launch new software that meets “current industry standards” and “will put us on the leading edge.”

The new system, CLARITI, is part of that change, following “months of research and deliberations by our in-house tech staff team,” she said.….

She noted the system, up and running since February, is a $5.6 million project that’s expected to be fully completed in 18 months, or by fall 2025….

During a special meeting in July of the City Council’s Committee on Planning and the Economy, Takeuchi Apuna told the panel that her staff had managed to knock down the backlog of 3,600 applications awaiting pre-screening by nearly 70%.

“Today we’re at about 1,100,” she said in July. “So that’s a big drop, and I think the staff are working so hard on that.”

On average, she said, the permit review process had gone from almost 10 months — or nearly 300 days — down to just about six months, or less than 200 days.

As of November 2022, the backlog to pre-screen a building permit application — namely to verify that building plans meet the city’s submittal requirements — had dropped from six months to about 2-1/2 months, she said last year.

But during Blangiardi’s fourth State of the City address held March 14, the mayor claimed DPP’s prior backlog of pre-screen applications was no more….

read … DPP launches more tech to speed permit process

Attorney for alleged victim takes stand in bribery trial against former city prosecutor

HNN: … There were fireworks on day four of a bribery trial against ex-city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro and campaign donors from a high-profile engineering firm.

Lawyers for the defendants objected repeatedly to some evidence that was showed to the jury.

Carl Osaki, the civil attorney for alleged victim Laurel Mau, took the stand Wednesday explaining how he learned that his client was also facing criminal prosecution.

Osaki represented Mau in 2012, when she sued her former employer, Mitsunaga and Associates, for discrimination….

read … Attorney for alleged victim takes stand in bribery trial against former city prosecutor

Mililani residents say their drinking water suddenly looks more like milk

KITV: … Several Mililani residents have spoken out about dirty drinking water in their homes. They reported foggy and/or bubbling water. And they say it has gone on for a few days now.

Kerry Terukina from Mililani Mauka said the water flowing from his faucets looks like milk. He said despite running the water for 30 to 45 seconds every day, it never looks clean enough to drink.

Terukina reached out to the Board of Water Supply (BWS) about his complaint and he said he received no follow up.

"I did talk to a gentleman and I did mention that our water is milky and I had a concern with it. He mentioned there were a few calls from the Mililani areas,” said Terukina….

BWS told Island News in a statement:  "The milky-white appearance of the water is caused by air bubbles. The cause of it is under investigation but we can confirm the water is safe to drink." …

read … Mililani residents say their drinking water suddenly looks more like milk

How Much Should People Know About A School's Safety Plan? Officials Are Reluctant To Reveal Too Much

CB: … House Bill 1837 began as a proposal of the House Working Group on Schools, which collaborated with school leaders and community members in the aftermath of the wildfires. Other recommendations included having the DOE provide robust academic and mental health support to Maui students and prioritizing fire safety and mitigation efforts on campuses.

“Emergency Action Plans for individual schools are not easily accessible to the public and state policymakers and should be made readily available,” the final report said. “The Schools Working Group strongly suggests the public should have an opportunity to assess these plans for their adequacy as it relates to student and staff safety and operational readiness.”

In public meetings the working group held last fall, parents said they wanted proof that DOE could appropriately respond to a major disaster and asked for opportunities to review Lahaina schools’ safety plans….

read … How Much Should People Know About A School's Safety Plan? Officials Are Reluctant To Reveal Too Much

Lahaina Fire News:

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