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Monday, July 24, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Monday, July 24, 2023

Hawai'i Department of Health produced this visual image noting pesticides as a risk to water quality in Hawai'i. The state
 Department of Agriculture is offering a way to dispose of pesticides for free, no questions asked.

DISPOSING PESTICIDES IN A SAFE WAY IS A COURSE via webinar beginning this Tuesday July 25 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., sponsored by Hawai'i state Department of Agriculture. The zoom link is https://hawaii-gov.zoom.us/j/97764030639; or One tap mobile at +16694449171,,97764030639# US;
or Telephone: Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on location) +1 669 444 9171 US. The webinar ID is 977 6403 0639. International numbers available: https://hawaii-gov.zoom.us/u/adLQYBuFXi
    Adam Williams, Environmental Health Specialist and Project Manager for state Department of Agriculture's Pesticide Disposal Program, said Tuesday's meeting is the start of a series of zoom meetings to discuss the state Pesticide Disposal Program.
State DOA offers option for pescticieds.

    Williams said the program "will provide an available, affordable, and environmentally accessible mechanism by which any agricultural entity, licensed pest control operator, landscape professional, pesticide dealer, and other commercial users of pesticides in the State can, for free, dispose of up to 250 lbs of canceled, suspended, unwanted, and unlabeled ("CSUU") pesticides." He emphasized that " No enforcement action will be taken against participants for disposing of CSUU pesticides."
Pesticides to be disposed could include old pesticides saved from sugar plantation days in Ka'u.
    Williams said, "The goal of the PDP is to promote a cleaner and safer Hawai'i by reducing the amount of pesticides which could potentially impact human health or the environment. The webinar offer discussion on: Acceptable and unacceptable materials; Who's eligible to participate; Getting registered;The event date and time; and Frequently asked questions.
     The online meetings will be held weekly from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., from this Tuesday, July 25 to Tuesday, Sept. 5.

Pa'a'au Stream, the rocky bed transformed by Army Corps of Engineers. Photo from Army Corps of Engineers
PA'AU'AU DRAINAGE CORRIDOR, WITH PROJECTS BY ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, is the subject of a County Department of Public Works community meeting  on Wednesday, Aug 9 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at  Pahala Community Center. This meeting will discuss the Paʻauʻau flood channels, encroachment issues, and future assistance that may be provided by US Army Corp. The original Pa'au'au Stream Flood Control project in Pahala was completed in October 1984 at a cost of $1,820,279 paid for by the federal government.
      Army Corps of Engineers describes its work here: "The project consists of a levee about 260 feet long; five concrete rubble masonry (CRM) walls totaling 1,800 feet in length; 2,700 feet of boulder concrete slope lining; and floodplain easement and management along the left bank. There are approximately 273 homes located within the project area. To date, the project has prevented more than $1.52 million in projected damages, within the project area. The local sponsor is the County of Hawai‘i, Department of Public Works.

Makana Kamahele will be an artist performing his music at this weekend's Experience Volcano Festival. He
spent years residing in Kaʻū and now lives on O'ahu. He will perform form 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday
at Volcano Winery, one of the many venues for the festival. Photo from Experience Volcano Hawai'i

Five thousand in the mail, 2,500 on the street.
See the July edition of The Kaʻū Calendar Newspaper

Five thousand in the mail, 2,500 on the street.
See the July edition of The Kaʻū Calendar Newspaper

Kaʻū News Briefs, Sunday, July 23, 2023

Runners of all ages are invited to enter the Volcano 'Ohi'a Lehua Runs, a 5K and Half-Marathon this Saturday, July 29 as a kickoff to the Experience Volcano Hawai'i two day festival. Photo from Volcano 'Ohi'a Lehua Runs

ENTERING THE VOLCANO 'OHI'A LEHUA RUNS to kick off Experience Volcano Festival next Saturday, July 29 is still possible. While online registration ended on Friday, late registration can be done

at packet pickup locations on Thursday, July 27 at Hilo Brewery from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday, July 28 at Volcano School of the Arts & Sciences from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
    The half-marathon begins Saturday at 7 a.m. with the 5K at 7:15 a.m. taking runners from Volcano School through the Volcano Village and out to the countryside and back through 'ohi'a forest with grand views of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. For runner safety partial road closures will be in effect in the Volcano Village area prior to festival hours.

EXPERIENCE VOLCANO FESTIVAL has announced its lineup for close to 60 events at six locations next Saturday and Sunday, July 29 and 30 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A statement from the organizers says "Experience Volcano Festival is a celebration of the culture, people and traditions that make the diversity of the Volcano Area so unique." It showcases music, Hawaiian culture, artists in action, tours, demonstrations, kids and 'ohana activities, happy hours, restaurant specials, food trucks and more.
    Organizers are Jesse Tunison who is Festival Press & Membership Manager for the Volcano Experience Hawai'i organization. Its President is Chris Becker, Treasurer Jim Wilson and Steering Committee members Barbra Dunn and Janet

    Entertainers include: Keoki Kahumoku, Makana Kamahele, Boni Narito, Ola Loa, Mano Ali'i, Genesis Pi'ilani, Fred Hee & Steve Look, Kanaka Fyah, Thom Gagne, Adam Kay, Rocky D'amore, The Screaming Geckos and 'Ukulele for Everyone with Wes Awana.
    Vendors include: Ola’s Creations, Tamisha Lee Glassworks, Ikehu Collective, Ultraviolet Alchemist, Periwinkle Moon, Kamano Woods, Hawaii Oasis: Growing Sustainable, Green Goat Farm, Tupperware, Maikui’s Creations, The Lemon Bar, Diane Hanzel, Monstera Gems Hawaii, TLC Oils, Nani Diaz, Raven & Dover Abrams, Volcano Community Foundation, Eclectic Virgo Creations, Big Island Luffa Farm, Hilo Baykery, Rainbow Repurpose, Kolea Kreations, Luti Fine Arts, Looking Glass, Fused Fragments, Papaya Direct, Aunty Pons Food Truck, Kumiko By Kyrie-Reign, Alchemy Farm Hawai'i, Pukana La Farms, Lakuna Links, Simply Mags Designs, He U’i Designs - Lani Creative, Namakua, Rotary Of Volcano Hawai'i, Scott Pincus, Hawai'i Pacific Parks Association, Eli Lynn Creations, Gnarwhal Artworks, Love Bali By Archer Kelly, Amalie Dorn, Island Hop Designs, Eternal Bonsai Creations, and Tuk Tuk Thai Food Truck.

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TAX FOUNDATION OF HAWAI'I has issued an opinion on the idea of helping to solve the housing shortage in Hawai'i by taxing people who leave their homes empty. Tom Yamachika, President and CEO 
of the Tax Foundation, wrote Study the Empty Homes Tax Again? He advises that the idea, a hot topic on O'ahu, could be coming to Hawai'i and other Neighbor Islands. Here it is:
    One concept that has popped up again, more often than the little animals in a Whack-a-Mole game, is the prospect of an “Empty Homes Tax.”
Simply put, if someone owns property here but doesn’t live in it for, say, six months out of the year, then we charge that someone a hefty real property tax surcharge. Why? Because that someone has removed a housing unit from circulation in a place where we really, really need housing units. Just last year, for example, the Honolulu City Council was considering a bill (Bill 9 of 2022) that would have set the tax at 3% of the property value, per year.
    Last year, when we wrote about this development, we pointed out that there would be lots of devils in

the details. How does one hope to enforce such a tax without running roughshod over people’s privacy (which is constitutionally protected in this State)? Do we simply require everyone to file a form, every year, saying that “1234 Aloha Drive is my home, and I have lived in it for more than six months this year,” assume that the folks who haven’t sent the form in have vacant property, and then throw them to the wolves in the City’s tax collection agency? How would we deal with the resulting flood of people who (1) never heard about the new law, form, or tax, (2) figured out that there was a tax and a form, but for whatever reason filed the form too late, or (3) had good reasons for not living in the house, such as being hospitalized for a substantial part of the year?
    This year, the City & County of Honolulu is trying again. They are on the path toward commissioning a study, projected to go out for bid in August, that seeks to determine “why so many homes are vacant, and how a vacant homes tax could benefit Honolulu’s many residents who lack suitable housing. Benefits to be explored should include contributions to a housing fund, discouraging the ‘hoarding’ of empty properties and encouraging owners to rent these properties to Hawai'i households.” The Star-Advertiser appears to be on board with this idea, as it stated in an editorial on July 14th. City officials say that the study will be paid for with federal pandemic relief money, so residents don’t have to worry about its cost.
    First, am I the only one wondering what in the world a vacant homes tax has to do with the COVID-19 pandemic so as to justify funding this study with pandemic relief funds? Second, what about the study done by the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs that the City had done in 2021? Is this new study going to cover the same ground, and if it does, why are we taxpayers getting hit for another one? So that two independent consultants, when the City asks, “Can we, pretty please, impose this tax?,” reply with, “Yeah, we suppose so”?
    If we can’t get out of that second study, we should at least have it address new developments, such as a paper put out by the Grassroot Institute saying, in effect, “Vacant homes don’t cause obscene housing prices, but a screwed-up building permitting system sure does!”
Folks on the Neighbor Islands: Don’t laugh. You might be next!

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.

Five thousand in the mail, 2,500 on the street.
See the July edition of The Kaʻū Calendar Newspaper