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Friday, February 23, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs Feb. 23, 2024

The view from Ocean View, celebrated by Kaʻū Radio 104.7 FM, which has announced a live broadcast from outside Malama Market on Saturday, March 9 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., or until pau. Photo from Kaʻū Radio
A MEET YOUR KAʻŪ RADIO STATION EVENT is set for Saturday, March 9 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., or until pau outside of Malama Market in Ocean View. There will be live broadcasting on 104.7 FM under the canopy with local DJs.
    Attendees are invited to meet the radio crew, ask questions, sign up to volunteer. Opportunities include hosting a show.
    Founder Tim Reed said Kaʻū Radio is Ocean View's first 100 percent legal FM radio station.


                                             Candlelight Induction for Kaʻū Honor Society
    Kaʻū High's National Honor Society held a candlelight ceremony on Friday evening to induct its members into the organization. The advisors for the society are teachers David and Chayanee Brooks. See names of the members and learn about their activities in upcoming Kaʻū News BriefsPhoto by Julia Neal


COUNTY COUNCIL MEMBER MICHELLE GALMBA FILED A LETTER SHARING COMMUNITY OPPOSITION TO CONSTRUCTION OF 18 SOLAR FARMS IN OCEAN VIEW RANCHOS. The letter went to the state Public Utilities Commission concerning the use of house lots for commercial solar farms in residential neighborhoods, among existing homes. The solar developer is SPI. The project has also drawn concern from the state Consumer Advocate.
    Galimba wrote, "As the Hawai'i County Council Member for District 6, which includes the site for SPI's proposed Feed In Tariff (FIT) project in the community of Ocean View, and specifically in the Ranchos residential subdivision of Ocean View, I would like to communicate my constituent communities' concerns about and strong opposition to the proposed SPI project.
    "I would also like to echo the concerns expressed by the Consumer Advocate in regard to adverse impacts on the cost of power for all ratepayers on the Island of Hawai'i. I understand that Hawaiian
Electric (formerly HELCO) must purchase power from the Ocean View Project at the FIT rate of 23.8c per kWh – a generous rate set in about 2010. At present, more modern projects with battery storage are coming online for less than 10c per kWh. If built, this project would have the effect of driving up already high prices, and producing revenue for SPI, which will largely flow off island. This project will have a lasting negative impact on all ratepayers in Hawai'i County for the next 20 years and add to the already difficult economic realities that working families face in our County and State.
    "I understand that a hearing officer had been appointed for the above-referenced Formal Complaint and the FIT Program. Complementary to the hearing officer's investigations, I would like to bring to the Commission's attention some local issues that may fall outside the officer's purview but are part of my responsibility to communicate issues concerning the health, welfare, and future of my constituents.
    "This project poses substantial risks that could result in fatal fires akin to the one which destroyed
Lahaina on Maui. Ocean View is in the path of the same trade-winds that drive the Pakini Nui Wind Farm at Kalae (South Point.) Electrical malfunction, whether caused by fallen poles or lines, equipment faults or accidents, arson, theft, or sabotage could generate a brush fire which could spread quickly to adjacent homes. Additionally, there is no piped water, and no fire hydrants serving the sites slated for the solar installations. Furthermore, Ocean View only has a volunteer fire department with one fire truck. As such, siting this project in a residential subdivision with substandard safety infrastructure is a poor policy decision that exposes the State to risk and liability.
    "It is my understanding that the FIT program was developed over 14 years ago to encourage agricultural producers to develop or host solar energy projects. While technically zoned Agricultural, the land that SPI proposed to locate the Ocean View project is a rural residential subdivision and thus the proposed project is not appropriately sited. Furthermore, SPI is not an agricultural producer, but rather an off-shore company. As such revenues from this project will not benefit local communities.
Houselots within neighborhoods with privacy and 'ohia trees would be
cleared to build industrial solar farms. Photo from Annie Bosted
   "Finally I would like to note that this project is extremely unpopular among local residents in the community of Ocean View, as well as against the best economic interests of residents of rate-payers in Hawai'i as a whole," concluded Galimba's letter.
   A petition for the PUC, signed by more than 700 OV residents, cited fire danger, industrialization of a rural community and other concerns as objections to the project. A formal complaint against HECO and HELCO for mismanagement of the Feed In Tariff Program was filed at the PUC by Ocean View residents in 2016. At that time the project to construct 18 solar farms on housing lots among existing homes was put on hold while the PUC investigated the complaint. That investigation is on going.
     Galimba's letter comes on the heels of a letter from SPI in an email to PUC Hearing Officer Mike Wallerstein, concerning "crippling delays" in approvals for the project. Wallerstein copied other parties to the case, including the complainants from Ocean View. Both SPI's attorneys and Wallerstein allude to the Lahina fires as the cause of the delay in advancing in the Ocean View solar case. An attorney representing the solar developer, SPI,  wrote in an email to the PUC Hearing Officer Wallerstein:
Michelle Galimba
   "As you know, when Intervenors filed their Motion to Move this Matter to a Final Decision and Order back in November of 2022, the parties had been waiting for the scheduling of the evidentiary hearing in this matter for over a year, and so your prompt action of finally holding the evidentiary hearing in June of 2023 was, and is, greatly appreciated.
    "As all parties have now completed their Post-Hearing Briefs in September 2023, respectfully, we would like to know if you are able to give a time frame for the recommended decision to be issued in this matter?
    "We certainly understand that there are pressing matters circling the Commission (especially since the events of this past August) and thus, we understand if you can't. However, any input that you can offer as to the expected timing would be greatly appreciated, as our clients are urgently seeking to plan their future course of action amidst these ongoing, crippling delays," concluded the SPI email.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at kaucalendar.com, in the mail and on stands.

AN EXTENSION ON PUBLIC INPUT TO FINALIZE THE COUNTY GENERAL PLAN has been issued, along with a new policy rationale document for citizen review. Hawaiʻi County announces April 1 as the new deadline for the extension of the public comment period for the Hawaiʻi County General Plan Comprehensive Review & Update.
    The county announcement says, "This extension comes in response to numerous requests from community members, ensuring ample time for valuable feedback and the release of the policy rationale document now available on the General Plan website: https://cohplanning.konveio.com/gp-draft.
    "The General Plan, a vital document shaping the future of Hawaiʻi County for the next 25 years, plays a pivotal role in addressing community challenges, harnessing opportunities, and creating a shared vision. It covers a broad spectrum of crucial topics, including active living, climate change, quality jobs, housing choice and affordability, local economy, and traffic."
Submitting public comments on Hawai'i County General
 Plan have been extended until April 1.
See https://cohplanning.konveio.com/gp-draft
   Zendo Kern, Director of County of Hawai'i Planning Department, said, "We extend our gratitude to all the communities, stakeholders, County and State agencies, Community Development Plan Action Committees, and the Hawaiʻi County Council, who have actively engaged in the extensive public outreach process and provided the thousands of comments already received."
    Mayor Mitch Roth said, "The General Plan is more than just a document; it is a living roadmap for the direction of our County and our communities. This is why it is so important to give all on our island who wish to contribute their manaʻo ample opportunity to do so. We are working on forging a sustainable Hawaiʻi Island where our keiki can raise their keiki for generations, and we cannot do that without a plan that is as vibrant and diverse as the communities we serve."
    The County reports that following the conclusion of the extended public comment period, planners will evaluate and incorporate the feedback received into a final recommended draft, marking the beginning of the adoption process. The final recommended draft will be forwarded to the Windward and Leeward Planning Commissions for separate hearings. "All community members are welcome and encouraged to participate in the process, offering their valuable testimonies during the hearings. The County Council is responsible for the final review and adoption and will also provide an opportunity for public testimony."
    To stay informed about upcoming events, progress, and the overall process, interested individuals can sign up for the Department's eNews at www.planning.hawaiicounty.gov/general-plan-community-planning/gp/connect.
   For more information, contact County of Hawaiʻi Planning Department at 101 Pauahi Street, Suite 3, Hilo, HI 96720; (808) 961-8288 and GeneralPlan@hawaiicounty.gov.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs Feb. 22, 2024

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is asking for public input on developing a plan to tackle crowding at Kīlauea summit and other areas. Need for the plan was described in the 2016 Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park General Management Plan. NPS photo

CONGESTION, SAFETY, RESOURCE PROTECTION AND IMPROVEMENT OF EXPERIENCE AT BUSY KĪLAUEA SUMMIT are subjects of a call for public input on a Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park plan. Kīlauea Summit Area and Corridor Management Plan aims to identify management strategies and solutions to reduce conflicts among cars, buses, motorcyles, bicyclists (including e-bikes) and pedestrians on park roads and trails that traverse the popular and often-crowded summit of Kīlauea volcano.
    "We want to hear from those who hold a deep connection to the park, who participate in cultural protocol, and who recreate or conduct business here. Your voice matters and will help park management develop solutions to the many problems overcrowding has created," said Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Superintendent Rhonda Loh.
    An online newsletter describes the desired conditions of the project, the issues the plan will address, and project goals, and is available for comment at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/kilaueasummitcmp.
    The public comment period began Thursday, Feb. 22 and ends March 22. The statement released from the Park says the "comment period is the initial phase of the plan and future opportunities to provide input will be announced as the plan develops."
     It says that since 2008, following the first significant summit eruption since 1924, park visitation has soared with most visitors drawn to areas between Uēkahuna and Devastation, including Nāhuku lava tube, Kīlauea Iki, Kīlauea Visitor Center, the entrance station and the overall summit corridor. "The high concentration of vehicles and people in a relatively small area often results in full parking lots, lines of traffic at the entrance station, crowded overlooks and frustrated visitors."
    Major damage to Crater Rim Drive and the loss of buildings and infrastructure during the 2018 Kīlauea eruption and summit collapse "has exacerbated park congestion, especially during the busy winter and summer holiday travel seasons. The park lost Jaggar Museum, a portion of Crater Rim Drive, Halema'uma'u Overlook and 'Iliahi Trail due to the eruptive events that year," says the Park statement.
    The need for, and development of, a Kīlauea summit site plan was included in the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park 2016 General Management Plan.

Punalu'u Tops Kaʻū Community Development Plan & Permit Before Windward Planning Commission
BOTH KAʻŪ COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN AND BLACK SAND BEACH, LLC'S plan, being considered by the county Planning Commission for a Special Management Area permit, delve into the environment, history and potential for Punalu'u. 
    Black Sand Beach, LLC plans to restore infrastructure and build some 234 units of accommodations, as well as retail and other commercial facilities at Punalu'u. See its plan and background reports at https://records.hawaiicounty.gov/weblink/1/doc/127617/Page1.aspx.
    See Kaʻū Community Development Plan at https://www.planning.hawaiicounty.gov/general-plan-community-planning/cdp/kau
    A public hearing for the Special Management Area permit is set for Thursday, March 7 in Hilo with testimony invited live in County Council Chambers at 9 a.m., and via Zoom. Illustration shows Punalu'u topping the front page of the online Kaʻū Community Development Plan.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at kaucalendar.com, in the mail and on stands. 

Boys & Girls Club elementary school students each transplanted an 'uala, a sweet potato, into their own pots to take home during an event organized by Center for Getting Things Started at Pāhala Elementary on Thursday. The planting was led by Marielle Hampton of CTHAR (center). It also featured whisking up mayonnaise and mashing 'uala. Photo by Julia Neal
ENJOYING HEALTHY COOKING AND GROWING FOOD came to Pāhala Boys & Girls Club on Thursday when keiki made mayonnaise from scratch and mashed it into purple 'uala, sweet potatoes, with coconut milk. The cooking was followed by getting their hands into the soil outdoors as each student transplanted a sweet potato seedling into a bigger pot to take home.
Keiki whisk up mayonnaise from scratch at a Boys & Girls Club healthy
 eating and food planting event on Thursday. Photo by Julia Neal
     The event, sponsored by Center for Getting Things Started, Boys & Girls Club, County of Hawai'i, The Food Basket, and University of Hawai'i College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources, saw more than a dozen elementary school age children take part. They gathered at the Kaʻū High & Pāhala Elementary School cafeteria and put a lot of energy into whisking and whipping up the food and a lot of effort into setting up their pots with good soil and careful planting of 'uala.
    Mentors were Dr. Koh Ming Wei from Center for Getting Things Started; Karen Estabilio, manager of Pahala Boys & Girls Club; Marielle Hampton of CTHAR; Robert Munoz of The Food Basket and community volunteers Mellanie Lee and John Enloe.
     A second event in Kaʻū for healthy eating and growing food, featuring the same mentors, will take place on Friday at Ocean View Community Center. 
    The keiki also learn a song with the saying that 'uala, "Sweet potatoes are good for me because they have nutrients."
    During the class, leader of Center for Getting Things Started, Ming Wei, advised the keiki on Safety First cooking skills, including using a knife with a claw hold and tip pointed down toward the cutting board. 
     She rallied the keiki with the saying, "Get ready for a workout," to mash the 'uala, purple sweet potatoes, and she oversaw the delicate cracking of the eggs to make mayonnaise. All food waste was put into a compost bucket.
     A resident of Hawai'i Island, Ming Wei has lived and taught in the Marshall Islands and said she looks forward to meeting Marshallese students on Friday in Ocean View.
Dr. Koh Ming Wei teaches cooking safety, cooking fun at a healthy eating and food planting event for Boys & Girls Club.
Photo by Julia Neal


Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs Feb. 21, 2024

A hawksbill turtle illustrates a petition to oppose resort development at Punalu'u. The petition addressed to Black Sand
Beach, LLC had gathered more than 300 names as of Wednesday evening. See the petition at
https://www.thepetitionsite.com/854/086/898/residents-who-oppose-the-resort-in-punaluu-ka%C5%AB/?fbclid=IwAR0w5hvXghL8FEGXJWfczYDM3C3NFmagic-qR0R4v5FjElwvT3oxBFBXEx4

AN ONLINE PETITION OPPOSING RESORT DEVELOPMENT AT PUNALU'U has collected more than 300 signatures. The care2 petition was initiated last week by Manu Kane, a Navy veteran who grew up in Waimanalo and lives in Ocean View. He wrote, "Please Sign & Share ...This is the Oldest District in Hawai'i... The Polynesians landed here in 800 AD and migrated to all of the other Islands from Ka'ū. It Should be Designated as a Conservation Area...Not another place to get a Big Mack." Kane is also instrumental in producing the Kaʻū Bulletin Board at https://www.facebook.com/groups/164789540645777.
    The petition is at https://www.thepetitionsite.com/854/086/898/residents-who-oppose-the-resort-in-punaluu-ka%C5%AB/?fbclid=IwAR0OnEoqALqNKOs5HUCfxt5wtHg37qpMbYkAQTW_DfGgEIF3Y6OAeWMplSs.
    The petition says the recipient is Black Sand Beach, LLC., the entity asking for a Special Management Area permit to take the next step in its plan for the accommodations and other commercial enterprise, restoration of the golf course, as well as an area set aside for conservation. A public hearing on the matter will be held at Hilo County Council Chambers beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 7. Read the notice with options to testify by zoom and watch via YouTube at https://records.hawaiicounty.gov/WebLink/1/edoc/128532/2024-03-07%
20Planning%20Commission%20Agenda.pdf
.

Greg Own at the entrance to P unalu'u with his signs is moderator of
facebook group ETA Hawai'i-Enojgh Tourists Already. The photo was recently posted
on Ka'u Bulletin Board facebook

   While the title of the petition is "Residents Who Oppose the Resort in Punalu'u Kaʻū," the text associated with the petition addresses all of Ka'ū, saying:
    "Building a resort in Ka'ū, Hawai'i may negatively affect the local environment and community. Ka'ū is known for its stunning natural beauty and diverse ecosystem, and the construction of a resort could lead to habitat destruction, and pollution. The planned resort also contains a Nesting site for the Federally and Internationally protected Endangered Hawksbill Turtle, Hawaiian Monk Seals as well as the Endangered Hawaiian Nene Geese. Additionally, it may put a strain on local resources and infrastructure, potentially causing disruptions to the way of life for residents. Furthermore, the influx of tourists that a resort would bring could lead to overcrowding and put additional pressure on the delicate balance of the ecosystem. Overall, the construction of a resort in Ka'ū may not be in the best interest of preserving the unique natural and cultural heritage of the region and the people that call this home."
    Petition signers are from Japan to Europe and the U.S. mainland, with most in Hawai'i. Some of those signing the petition chose not to have their names displayed, and some have made comments and are
identified by first names and last name initials. Among those who signed in as being from Hawai'i:
    DWN K wrote, "I oppose!! I’m born n raised in Ka’u. We no like your development here. Leave our aina alone."
    Keala K. wrote, "I oppose all development for resorts in Punalu'u, Ka'u."
    Tahnee Y. wrote, "I love Punalu'u. Please help keep it from development."
    Jonette K. wrote, "Punalu’u beach area should never be made into a resort. It is one of the few family areas to enjoy here in Ka’u district. It would be a travesty to remove one of the very few places for locals to use."
    Cam H. wrote, "No development period."
    Chelsae K. wrote, "Ka'u is special and beautiful for its raw untouched beauty. An important resource to locals and a refuge to all endangered animals such as the honu, monk seal and whales. Leave it alone. Or make positive changes such as addressing the horrible sewage problem."
    Kamaka P. wrote, "Hawai’i does not need more tourism or resorts that bring tourism. We need our lands to remain undeveloped to sustain communities. Get creative on how to create an economy."
    Keke M. wrote: "Enough is enough! If you’re on that Moku you guys need to stop it before it turns into another exploited Moku like Oʻahu. The cement island. Take notes at what they did here to O'ahu. Don’t let them have their way over there!!!! Rise up!!!! Make all those tourists and transplants uncomfortable!!!! They’ll take and continue to steal your homes! Heed My Words. We live it. We know. Stop them at all cost before it’s all gone!"
    Ellen L. wrote: "Affordable housing, accessible and real jobs are what is needed on this Island not another resort for tourists to visit their Disneyland version of Hawai'i."
    Naomi S. wrote, "We are Absolutely not in for any-type of development keep Ka’u Ka’u. it is more than just a place or piece of land that you can strip from us locals! Or build enormous buildings just to gain money so you could bring many other people here that aren’t local. It’s gonna end up just like O'ahu! Corrupt! Ka’u is the “Breast of our goddess Pele, 'sacred.' We are what nurtured everywhere else !!! Imagine what damage you would bring to our lovely small community how much loss will come out of it our lands filled with cement, concrete roads , traffic , stop lights , traffic jams. I can name multiple reasons why I’m not for it ! Ka’u to me and my 'Ohana is the last town that isn’t ruined yet because it hasn’t had someone come to do so until now but that’s my opinion and believe me I have more but for now that’s it. Thank you."

Read the notice of the March 7 public hearing on plans for Punalu'u with
options to testify by zoom and watch via YouTube at

    Leslie Kaialiʻi M. wrote, "I oppose the development of Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach. Care for the infrastructure: the water, the roads, sewer system not build things up to cater to more tourists that are flooding into the islands. Not to mention how will this affect the wildlife? The fishermen? The native people of Kaʻū? Who will be telling the moʻolelo of Kaʻū? Will it be accurate? This plan will change the landscape of Kaʻū and generations of its people to come. ʻAʻole! This is hewa!"
    Heather H. wrote, "I Usually reside on the big island and will return home soon. I believe that Punaluu, Kau is a sacred place and that building a resort there would cause irreparable damage to the land, beaches, and especially the sea life. Not to mention the attraction of tourist who would most likely disrupt the many Hounus found there almost constantly resting on the beaches. I vote No! Not to mention it's the southern part of the Big Island and still beautiful and wild and still has hope not to become another Kona or Hilo. Let's keep the south part of the Big Island just the way it is, rural and wild. I also believe that the attraction of tourist to that area would cause the cost of living to go up for the locals and make it even more difficult for locals to afford land, and or rent or buy homes. Which let's face it. It is already expensive on all of Hawaii and it's a struggle just to get by. By attracting more tourists to that area by building a resort I do not believe it would be good for the environment or the local community as a whole. Kau is the most beautiful part of the Big Island because it is rural, country and where the locals can grow and profit from their businesses, not from some corporate company that doesn't respect the native Hawaiian culture, ecosystem and way of life."
    Linda C. wrote, "I’m against any development in the district of Ka’u, it’s sacred land !! Land of the sea turtles, lands of final resting place, freshwater, all the special places along our kau coastline !! Keep it country !! Go way north if you like to build !! I’m for no development and will always vote for no development in the Kau district !! Mahalo."
    Alexis K. wrote. "I strongly oppose this development plan for Punalu\'u. Ka'ū is the last place on the island we have that doesn't have a hotel. We want to keep it that way. Listen to the people. The majority say NO. "

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at kaucalendar.com, in the mail and on stands. 

FRIENDS OF KAʻŪ LIBRARIES ANNUAL MEETING will be held at 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 21 at Pāhala Library. The organization is a nonprofit affiliate of Friends of the Library of Hawai'i. The Annual Membership Meeting will include election of Officers and Board of Directors. Light refreshments will be served. Current board members are President Deborah Lynn Dickerson, Vice President Joe Demoruelle and Secretary/Treasurer Debbie Wong Yuen.