About The Kaʻū Calendar

Ka`u, Hawai`i, United States
A locally owned and run community newspaper (www.kaucalendar.com) distributed in print to all Ka`u District residents of Ocean View, Na`alehu, Pahala, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Village and Miloli`i on the Big Island of Hawai`i. This blog is where you can catch up on what's happening daily with our news briefs. This blog is provided by The Ka`u Calendar Newspaper (kaucalendar.com), Pahala Plantation Cottages (pahalaplantationcottages.com), Local Productions, Inc. and the Edmund C. Olson Trust.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs April 5, 2012

Ag tourism would be perpetuated by a bill up for vote next week in the state House of Representatives. Photo by Julia Neal
MORE TOURISM ON AG LAND would be allowed under law up for passage in the state legislature. The introduction to the bill says: "The legislature finds that there are many examples across the country of agricultural tourism incorporated within productive farms and ranches. For example, several sites in Napa valley in northern California are well-known agricultural tourism destinations. Agricultural tourism serves as a means to provide not only additional income for farmers and ranchers but also serves as a learning experience for many people who do not have a connection to agriculture."
      Senate Bill 2341, Senate D2 and House D2 would repeal prohibitions on overnight accommodations in ag districts. It would authorize agricultural tourism, including overnight stays for 21 days or less. However the bill is currently written for only those counties with a population greater than 100,999 and less than 150,000, and only in counties with ordinances regulating agricultural tourism. The population restrictions appear to be a final negotiating point of the bill, as none of the counties fit into population requirements. The 2010 census showed Kaua`i with 67,226, Maui with 155,000, the Big Island with 185,406 and O`ahu with 953,207.
Many of Ka`u's ranches and farms are also visitor destination icons like the table top mountains. Photo by Julia Neal
     The Hawai`i Farm Bureau testified that many activities comprise agriculture: farm stands, tours, demonstrations, you-picks and B&Bs. The Farm Bureau sees “as a priority the need to keep bona fide agricultural operations as the primary activity on farmland. Crossing the line to tourist related activities without the agricultural production was not the intent of this measure.”
     The Sierra Club opposed the measure. “To allow such activities as a matter of right would fly in the face of decades of careful protection of agricultural lands.” The Sierra Club testimony quoted the Hawai`i Constitution: "The state shall conserve and protect agricultural lands, promote diversified agriculture, increase agricultural self-sufficiency and assure the availability of agriculturally suitable lands." The measure goes to vote on the House floor Tuesday, April 10.

Pete Hoffmann
HAWAI`I PROPERTY TAX LAW is unusual nationwide in that each county in this state has leeway in setting property tax policies, according to a recent study. The report studied 3,141 counties across the country and noted relatively low tax rates here compared to other places, reports a story by Peter Sur in Hawai`i Tribune Herald this morning. He covered the presentation yesterday to the County Council Finance Committee by tax consultant Richard Almy.
     Councilman Pete Hoffmann suggested that the reason that that the county sets property taxes at a relatively low rate could possibly relate to the local jurisdiction not being directly responsible for funding schools. Since the school system is operated by a statewide school board with a statewide budget, county council members are one step removed from responsibility for costs of education. Hawai`i is the only state with a centralized school system. Most places have local school boards pressuring local government for higher taxes to pay for better schools.
     The Hawai`i County Council is studying some 40 recommendations on improving tax policies here, ranging from looking at tax exemptions for ag land where ag is not legitimately practiced, to more frequent assessments of property value and a better way for the public to appeal property tax values and other related matters.

A KA`U COFFEE FESTIVAL RECIPE CONTEST will be held at the Grand Opening of the Ka`u Coffee Mill on Sunday May 6. Applications for the Triple C Recipe Contest - for cookies, candies and crackers - can be found inserted in this month’s Ka`u Calendar newspaper in the mail and online. Deadline to enter is May 1. For more information visit kaucoffeefest.com or kaucoffeemill.com.

OCEAN VIEW NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH meets tonight, 7 p.m., at Ocean View Community Center. Call 939-7033 for more.

Maui parrotbill. Photo by Alan Lieberman, KBCC
KEAUHOU BIRD CONSERVATION CENTER Tour takes place tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Attendees see and learn about native birds that the facility houses, including the ‘alala (Hawaiian crow), which is extinct in the wild; the palila, a finch-billed honeycreeper found only on the slopes of Mauna Kea; the Maui parrotbill, an insectivorous Hawaiian honeycreeper; and the puaiohi, or small Kaua`i thrush. Cost is $20 for Friends of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park members and $30 for non-members. Students are half-price. Call 985-7373 or visit www.fhvnp.org to register.

FIRST FRIDAY AT VOLCANO ART CENTER is tomorrow at Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. From 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the public is invited to join a free class  to search for Hawaiian values and study the Lord’s Prayer (Pule a ka Haku) and other familiar Hawaiian literature. From 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., VAC offers a free hula class for adults. Keiki Hula, $10 each, will be held from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. For more, call 967-8222 or visit www.volcanoartcenter.org.

MILOLI`I HEALTH FAIR is offered this Saturday by Gamma Theta Chapter of Phi Delta Chi Professional Pharmacy Fraternity from University of Hawai`i - Hilo. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the public can receive cholesterol and diabetes screenings, blood pressure monitoring, and health education while enjoying live entertainment, raffle prizes, children’s activities and a free lunch.