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Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023

The state and U.S. Forestry are promoting partnerships with Hawai'i schools to plant more trees.
Photo from DLNR

TREE CANOPIES FOR HAWAI'I COMMUNITIES AND SCHOOLS are being encouraged by the state Department of Land & Natural Resources, U.S. Forest Service and educational institutions. The aim is to advance the Hawai'i Forest Action Plan priorities in Urban & Community Forestry and to contribute toward the State of Hawai'i's pledge to conserve, restore or grow 100 million trees by 2030.
    Dr. Heather McMillen, DLNR's Division of Forestry & Wildlife's Kaulunani Urban & Community Forest Program Coordinator, announced partnerships with public schools this week to promote shadier, more tree-filled campuses and healthier learning environments for our next generation of leaders. "Studies

have shown an association between tree canopy and cooler temperatures as well as improved mental and physical health for students. Leading urban forestry researchers recommend a minimum of 30% tree canopy cover to realize those benefits. However, the vast majority of our schools and surrounding neighborhoods are well below that minimum. These three projects will demonstrate diverse ways to address a critical need,” said McMillen.
    One project, operated by Hawai'i Public Health Institute's Food Trees for Schools Initiative, aims to plant and maintain food trees at public schools, potentially impacting nearly 15,000 students. Another, sponsored by University of Hawai'i, is called 'Ulu Trees for Schools, and is starting on O'ahu.
    See more on encouraging tree canopies in villages, towns and cities in Hawai'i at https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/lap/kaulunani/

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PĀHALA COMMUNITY CENTER WILL BE THE SITE FOR PUBLIC INPUT ON zoning and subdivision codes, both seen as important to the ability to produce affordable housing and the ability to preserve land for agriculture and conservation, as well as to start businesses. The meeting will be at Pāhala Community Center this Wednesday, Jan. 18 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. It is sponsored by County of Hawai'i. Planning Department and other team members will explain suggested changes to the codes and take public input. For the draft changes to the code, see http://COHcodeupdate.com.

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THE COUNTY'S AFFORDABLE HOUSING PRODUCTION PROGRAM will open for public comment on its draft Administrative Rules on Jan. 20. The purpose of the program administered by the Office of 
Housing &Community Development is "to support, increase and sustain affordable housing production in the County of Hawai'i."
    A statement on the OHCD website says, "Increasing the availability and accessibility of affordable housing remains Mayor Mitch Roth’s top priority. In June 2022, the Council passed, and Mayor Roth signed Ordinance 22-77, which appropriates at least $5,000,000 per year for the Office of Housing & Community Development to facilitate programs that support affordable housing production. For fiscal year 2022-23, the OHCD will receive $9,000,000."
    The comment period on the new rules is open from Jan. 20 through Feb. 21. The draft can be viewed,
starting Jan. 20, at https://www.housing.hawaiicounty.gov/grants-funding/affordable-housing-production-program-ahap.
    A public hearing will be held Feb. 13 at 10 a.m. in person and via zoom. The location is 1990 Kino'ole St, Conference Room 104 in Hilo. To participate via Zoom register at https://www.housing.hawaiicounty.gov/grants-funding/affordable-housing-production-program-ahap.
    Written comments can be submitted via email to ohcdcdbg@hawaiicounty.gov by 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 21. Mail to OHCD, 1990 Kino'ole St., Suite 102, Hilo, Hi 86720-5293. See more at https://www.housing.hawaiicounty.gov/.

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Hawai'i Office of Housing & Community Development
 is hiring. See https://www.housing.hawaiicounty.gov/
HAWAI'I COUNTY OFFICE OF HOUSING & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT IS HIRING. Positions have been opened by Housing Administrator Susan Kunz in Community Engagement, Existing Housing and Grants Management.
    One position is available in East Hawai'i for the manager of the Residential Repair program, which provides low-interest loans to eligible homeowners across the island for repairs that allow for long-term housing stability. The employee will also learn the county procurement and contracting process, as well as other skills.
    Two housing voucher case managers are needed, one in  East and the other in West Hawai'i, to review and process Section 8 applications for rental assistance.
     One Housing & Community Development Specialist IV is needed to manage the federal Family Self-Sufficiency & Home Ownership Programs. The job involves recruiting and assisting participants to help them move toward financial and housing stability and home ownership.
     One Grants Manager for East Hawai'i is needed oversee federal, state and local funding, including the new Affordable Housing Production Program.
     Send resume and cover letter to Royce.shiroma@hawaiicounty.gov. See more on Hawai'i County Housing & Community Development at https://www.housing.hawaiicounty.gov/.

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HAWAI'I RENTERS SPEND 42.1 PERCENT OF THEIR INCOME ON HOUSING, according to a report from Forbes Home, which studies moving trends and other housing metrics. That means Hawai'i renters, by far, spend more income on renting than in any other state. California is second, with renters spending 28.5%. New Jersey is third at 27.5%, Massachusetts fourth at 26.2% and Delaware fifth at 25.8%. They are followed by Alaska at 25.6%, Maryland at 25.4%, Rhode Island at 25.3%, Oregon ay 25% and Arizona at 24.7%.
    The study looked at 2021, reporting that the Hawai'i average monthly rent was $2,136 with an average monthly income of $5,079. It is well known that the housing expenses are higher now than in 2021 and that  people moving to Hawai'i and other states popular for good living have driven up rents.
    The top ten states where people arrived to live in 2021 were Texas, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Nevada, Maine, Delaware and Idaho. The top 10 states with residents departing in 2021 were California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Washington, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.

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HAWAI'I, WHICH HAS LONG BEEN CALLED ONE OF THE WORST PLACES FOR BUSINESS, was just ranked 22nd in the Best Places to Start a Business study by WalletHub.
    Bringing Hawai'i toward the top is its Business Environment, ranked eighth in the nation. It is  fourth in
Accessible Financing and 15th in Access to Resources. However, Hawai'i ranks 43rd in Business Costs.
    The top state to start a business, according to WalletHub is Utah, follwed by Floriday, Texas, Colorado, Idaho, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma and California.
      The worst place, according to WalletHub, is Alaska, followed by Connecticut, West Virginia, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Virginia and Maryland.
      Metrics also included Average Growth in Number of Small Businesses.
     WalletHub notes that "according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, about a fifth of all startups typically don’t survive past year one of operation, and nearly half never make it to their fifth anniversary. Staying afloat is difficult even under normal conditions, and even more so when dealing with a global pandemic, the highest inflation in decades and labor shortages. Outside of the current difficult economic conditions, there are plenty of other reasons that startups fail, with a “bad location” among the most common."


We are hiring.

If you share our vision for the people and places of Hawaii and the Pacific to be wildfire-ready and wildfire-resilient, consider applying for a job with us. The rewards are plentiful: competitive pay and benefits, a passionate and enthusiastic team, and the deep satisfaction of knowing you're making a difference.

Two new positions are now open.

Wildfire Mitigation Program Manager

The Wildfire Mitigation Program Manager position will be responsible for assessing wildfire hazards on the landscape and in built environments across the Hawaiʻi-Pacific region, designing and coordinating the implementation of risk-reduction/fuels reduction projects alongside diverse stakeholder groups, and delivering wildfire risk mitigation information, recommendations and programmatic resources to private landowners and public land managers in high-risk area and other stakeholder groups. This person will work closely with HWMO's Co-Executive Directors, the Hawaiʻi-Firewise Program Director, the Wildfire Planning Specialist, and the Wildfire Collaborations Program Manager, as well as other agency and organizational partners, specifically focusing on addressing wildfire risk and implementing risk-reduction actions. She or he will integrate and coordinate efforts with other ongoing programs available through HWMO. Wildfire Mitigation Program Manager Job Description

Wildfire Collaborations Program Manager

The Wildfire Collaborations Program Manager will be responsible for building and sustaining boundary-spanning working groups and networks across the Hawaiʻi-Pacific region around issues related to wildfire outreach/education, planning, and mitigation/risk-reduction action. This person will serve as a connector across land-ownerships and stakeholder groups (residents, private landowners, public land managers, elected officials, community groups, and county, state, and federal partner agencies) and will work with other HWMO staff to ensure collaboration efforts are being mobilized and sustained over time. This position involves getting to know many partners and perspectives in order to adequately serve their wildfire needs. The right candidate is someone who thrives in a program facilitation role, enjoys supporting the learning, growth and relationship-building among diverse people, and desires to have a long-term role and impact. Wildfire Collaborations Program Manager Job Description

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St. Jude's Hot Meals are free to those in need on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until food runs out, no later than noon. Volunteers from the community are welcome to help and can contact Karen at pooch53@gmail.com. Location is 96-8606 Paradise Circle Drive in Ocean View.  Those in need can also take hot showers from 9 a.m. to noon and use the computer lab from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Free Meals Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are served from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Nā'ālehu Hongwanji. Volunteers prepare the food provided by 'O Ka'ū Kākou with fresh produce from its gardens on the farm of Eva Liu, who supports the project. Other community members also make donations and approximately 150 meals are served each day, according to OKK President Wayne Kawachi.


Volcano Evening Market, Cooper Center, Volcano Village, Thursdays, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., with live music, artisan crafts, ono grinds, and fresh produce. See facebook.com.

Volcano Swap Meet, fourth Saturday of the month from 8 a.m. to noon. Large variety of vendors with numerous products. Tools, clothes, books, toys, local made healing extract and creams, antiques, jewelry, gemstones, crystals, food, music, plants, fruits, and vegetables. Also offered are cakes, coffee, and shave ice. Live music.

Volcano Farmers Market, Cooper Center, Volcano Village on Sundays, 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., with local produce, baked goods, food to go, island beef and Ka'ū Coffee. EBT is used for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps. Call 808-967-7800.

'O Ka'ū Kākou Market, Nā'ālehu, Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Contact Nadine Ebert at 808-938-5124 or June Domondon 808-938-4875. See facebook.com/OKauKakouMarket.

Ocean View Community Market, Saturdays and Wednesdays, 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., corner of Kona Drive and Highway 11, where Thai Grindz is located. Masks mandatory. 100-person limit, social distancing required. Gate unlocked for vendors at 5:30 a.m., $15 dollars, no reservations needed. Parking in the upper lot only. Vendors must provide their own sanitizer. Food vendor permits required. Carpooling is encouraged.

Ocean View Swap Meet at Ocean View makai shopping center, near Mālama Market. Hours for patrons are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Vendor set-up time is 5 a.m. Masks required.

The Book Shack is open every Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Kauaha'ao Congregational Church grounds at 95-1642 Pinao St. in Wai'ōhinu.