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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Wednesday, May 10, 2023

New plans for Punalu`u may be presented by its owners in June, according to a report at
the Kaʻū Community Development Plan Action Committee meeting on Monday. Photo from KCDP

KAʻŪ COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN ACTION COMMITTEE focused on a variety of community issues on Monday evening at Ocean View Community Center. Subcommittees gave reports.
Kaʻū Community Development Plan Action Committee meeting in Ocean
View on Monday. Photo by Peter Bosted
    Punalu'u Coastline Access & Resources Investigatory Committee said that Eva Liu's group, which owns the old resort property, was contacted and that representatives said there will be a community meeting to explain the state of current plans sometime in June. Plans for expanding accommodations and restoring and adding onto old facilities that were abandoned, including the Golf Clubhouse, tennis court and Aspen Center area, could require application for a Special Management Area for lands below Hwy 11 in the Punalu'u area.          
    Ideas entertained over the last few years are adding on condominiums, restoring the old restaurant by the pond at Black Sand beach, building a small hotel and other housing and commercial enterprises.  Some coastal land may also be sold to the county for preservation.
    Subcommittee on Kupuna Housing reported on renewed interest to establish senior citizen housing on the current location of O Kaʻū Kakou's weekly outdoor market.
    Subcommittee on Nā'ālehu Theatre reported on the building being torn down and there was suggestion of dissolving the committee but the committee was retained to look into the future use of the building site.      
    Word in the community is that a grocery store will soon come to the shopping center adjacent to the old theater site and that the theater site could also be included in the planning.
    Subcommittee on Mahana Bay - Green Sands Beach reported on outreach to Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, asking for better stewardship of the trail and 4WD track, parking and Green Sands Beach itself.
    Subcommittee on Pohue Bay reported on efforts to work with Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park on its plan for public access to the coast. The Park recently acquired thousands of acres along the coast there.
    Several people from Wood Valley approached the Committee on the satellite dishes recently approved
by the Planning Commission for land along Wood Valley Road. The scientific project by a Taiwanese University deep space research group involves efforts to detect signals from deep space.      The scientists claim the dishes will be passive, without emitting any radio or other signals from the satellite dishes. Opponents have said they feared it would usher in a campus of satellite dishes that would be incompatible with the farm community. Some questioned whether there would be no emissions from the dishes and whether it would be used to spy. With the project approved by the planning commission, the opponents would have to file for a contested case, a legal proceeding to have their point of view reconsidered.
    Subcommittee on Solar Farms, Large & Small mall reported on projects planned in Kaʻū. Arion Energy and Pivot Energy, the developers of South Point Shared Solar, Ka Lae 1 and Ka Lae 2 were contacted. The two solar farms planned near Nā'ālehu are designed to provide power for more than 200 households, plus businesses and nonprofits, which would receive discounts on their electric bills if they sign up. 
      Included among many questions was the future of the orange trees presently growing on one of the sites that will be destroyed to make way for the solar panels. The committee also asked for guarantees that the sites would be cleaned up when the 20-year contract is over. It was noted that these solar projects are not designed to provide backup power to residents during a power outage.
    A community meeting sponsored by South Point Shared Solar developers will be held on Wednesday, May 31 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Nā'ālehu Community Center.
     Concerning solar in Ocean View, resident Annie Bosted asked the committee to support efforts to end a project that would result in 26 solar installations being built among homes makai of the highway. She circulated a map showing the proposed locations of the solar installations, and the locations of homes. She also passed around a petition signed by nearly 700 residents who are opposed to the project. She stated detrimental results of this proposed project on the community, and said it would negatively impact the local economy.
    Bosted said that after the meeting, Kaʻū Community Development Plan Action Committee member Ka'ohi Mokuhali'i emailed, saying, "Be Assured your voice and concern was clearly heard. We will be forwarding this information to the CDP office to place on file. I truly hope, even though we are only an advisory council, that we as a group can help to find solutions, and or pathways to assist your concerns and move forward with a positive outcome. We must always strive to protect our precious environment!"
    Read about Kaʻū Community Development Plan and comment at https://www.planning.hawaiicounty.gov/general-plan-community-planning/cdp/kau

Community input on the County's Integrated Climate Action Plan is due June 1. Photo from County of Hawai'i

COUNTY OF HAWAI'I SEEKS FEEDBACK ON ITS INTEGRATED CLIMATE ACTION PLAN through June 1. A statement from the County says, "The ICAP is a cross-departmental effort that charts the County's responsibility to reduce its contribution to global climate change and make its services and facilities resilient to the effects of a changing climate. The ICAP identifies actions the County can take and will be used as a tool to hold the County accountable for climate action. The County of Hawaiʻi encourages all residents to review the ICAP and provide feedback through Konveio, an interactive online platform." The link to the Konveio site is cohplanning.konveio.com.

MANU MINUTE WITH SOUNDS OF HAWAI'I'S NATIVE BIRDS has been launched on Hawai'i Public Radio's HPR 1 and 2, available in Kaʻū. HPR's FM stations here are HPR 1 KANO at 89.1 and HPR 2 KAHU at 91.3. 
    A statement from HPR says, "Manu Minute brings you the rich sounds from Hawai'i's native forests and shorelines. Each Wednesday, Patrick Hart, principal investigator at the University of Hawaiʻi-Hilo LOHE Bioacoustics Lab, features a different Hawai'i bird and its unique song, and talks about its environment and conservation.
    Learn about endemic species such as the critically endangered kiwikiu — one of the rarest birds in the world — and native honeycreeper ʻākohekohe. A statement from HPR says, "Manu Minute and LOHE lab's research bring to light recent efforts to help the plight of our feathered friends." Their conservation work helped push forward the recent Board of Land and Natural Resources-approved landscape-scale mosquito control program to save native birds.
Patrick Hart holds a juvenile ʻiʻiwipolena bird
Patrick Hart holds a juvenile 'i'iwi. Archival photo from LOHE Lab
    Hart, who is Principal Investigator, LOHE Bioacoutics Lab, said, "Landscape-scale mosquito control to save our Hawaiian forest birds has long been a dream for bird ecologists and all of those who live our manu. We are very excited about the upcoming release of sterile male mosquitoes." The first release will be on Maui later this year to help reverse decline of ʻĀkohekohe, Kiwikiu, and ʻIʻiwi. Hart and his team are also exploring cultural connections to native birds through chants on Hawaiʻi Island in an effort to spread awareness of mo'olelo (stories) about Hawaiʻi's native birds. He recently shared their work on HPR's The Conversation.
    The LOHE Lab also shares what to expect in the bird world for the next month or two:
     Most kōlea have made it safely to their nesting grounds in Alaska and have started building nests. Seabirds, including ʻuaʻu (Hawaiian Petrel), ʻaʻo (Newell Shearwater), and ʻakēʻakē (Band-rumped Storm petrel) have mostly returned to their high elevation nest sites on most of the main Hawaiian islands and are likely sitting on eggs.
    Most of manu nahele (forest birds), including ʻiʻiwi, ʻapapane, and ʻamakihi have fledged their keiki from the nest. Most manu that feed on insects (insectivores), including ʻākepa, ʻalawi, and ʻelepaio are still incubating eggs or feeding hatchlings.
    Catch Manu Minute Wednesdays during The Conversation 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. on HPR-1 and during Classical Pacific 3 - 6 p.m. on HPR-2. Subscribe to Manu Minute as a podcast on Apple, Spotify, and Google.