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Monday, January 22, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs Jan. 22, 2024

The golf carts at the Big Island Open at Punalu'u Sea Mountain Golf Course last weekend held frisbee-like discs instead
 of golf clubs. The 25th Big Island Open tournament drew more than 100 competitors. Photo by Nico Reese

A third place wooden disc trophy
from Big Island Open at Punalu'u.
Photo by Julia Neal
PUNALU'U GOLF COURSE HOSTED THE 25TH ANNUAL BIG ISLAND OPEN over the weekend, this one for Disc Golf, an emerging sport with much online and some ESPN television coverage across the country. The ProAm C-Tier tournament at Sea Mountain Golf Course at Punalu'u was endorsed by the Professional Disc Golf Association and presented by Innova Disc Golf. It drew 102 competitors. The Pro Purse was $2,895.
    The tournament info described the layout at Punalu'u for 27 holes - actually baskets to catch the discs - as a "Unique course with some long holes and lots of challenges set up on Sea Mountain Golf Course, which has been closed for years." It noted that the players would have the course to themselves the entire weekend and that there were camping places and other accommodations available in the area. Cost to compete was $20 per entry with $15 going to green fees. Men and women competed.
    Disc Golf features nets as holes and frisbee-like discs thrown along links into baskets to receive a score, with pars for each hole, just like golf. Specialized discs are thrown for different distances and heights. 

     Player Jacee Lucero from Kaua'i said he and competitors from afar are in awe of the beauty of the Sea Mountain course at Punalu'u and hoped that more tournaments would be held there, even the state Disc Golf tournament in coming years.
    Tournament Director was Robert Nasworthy, of Hilo. Assistant Tournament Director was Alan Koons. Tournament staff members were Diego Alvarado and Jim Toews.

A commemorative disc from the Big Island
 Open tournament at Sea Mountain Golf
Course last weekend. Photo by Julia Neal
    The winner of the Male Pro Tournament was Kacy Schend of Makawao on O'ahu, with a par minus 25. He was followed by Eirc Reppun of Honolulu with a par minus 23 and Jason Kozlik of Hale'iwa on O'ahu with a par minus 21 and Nicolas Chaudron of Honolulu who also came in with a par minus 21. 
   The winner of the Female Pro Tournament was five time Professional Disc Association world champion Juliana Korver of Orange City, Iowa with par minus 5. She has 249 career wins. Korver was followed by Haley Reese of Hilo with par plus 28; Sadie Shattuck of Kennewick, WA with par plus 37; and Audrey Lopez of Beamsville, Ontario, Canada with par plus 90.
    There were numerous men, women pro and amateur age group events. See the full results and more on the sport at https://www.pdga.com/tour/event/75553.
    The rise in disc golf is in concert with the rise in sand volleyball competition at colleges, universities and clubs. Several sand volleyball courts are planned in the makeover of Punalu'u property, as reported in the recent proposal to the County Windward Planning Commission. Eva Liu, owner of the Sea Mountain Golf Course at Punalu'u, said she also supports disc golf tournaments there.

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.  

A GROUP OF OCEAN VIEW RESIDENTS ISSUED A STATEMENT ON MONDAY PROMISING CONTINUED OPPOSITION TO A RECENT APPROVAL OF A CELL TOWER NEAR KAHUKU COUNTY PARK in the Paradise Circle neighborhood. A California company called Renigade Towers, LLC. plans to build the 150 ft. tall tower among homes and near a church and the county park.
     The cell tower issue was approved by the Windward Planning Commission for a contested case hearing during its Dec. 7 meeting which would have taken the issue into a quasi judicial procedure, providing a mediator to work with the opponents and the cell tower company. However, the Planning Department and its attorneys were soon advised that state law can supersede county decisions on cell towers. It requires all broadband permit approval or disapproval within 60 days of submission, or the approval is automatic. For this case, automatic approval fell on Dec. 21, before any mediation occured. State law also disallows a contested case once the approval is given.         
Example of 150 ft. tall cell tower, this one in
Round Valley, CA. Photo from Mendocino Voice
    Colleen Conifer, one of the residents who petitioned for the standing that the Windward Planning Commission approved, told The Kaʻū Calendar that she and her neighbors are not giving up their opposition to the tower. "We followed all their steps and rules for filing our petition, along with a $200 filing fee, but they kept changing the rules until we were basically denied our rights to a hearing. The Planning Department sent an email on Friday, Jan, 5th informing us that the permit for building a cell phone tower on Paradise Circle was automatically approved effective Dec. 21st, two weeks after the Commission met for a public hearing on the tower," but didn't allow the opposition to make comments.
    "We were all appalled by this decision. Under the State's cell tower regulations, on the sixty-first day after filing for a permit, the application is automatically approved if no action has been taken by the Planning Commission. The Commission is breaking its own rules. They took action. They promised us a mediator. That's action. While we trusted them, and waited for the mediator to be appointed, they ran out the clock and denied us any mediation, as promised."
    A second petition was signed by 137 residents, all opposed to the cell phone tower in the Paradise Circle neighborhood. This was submitted to the Planning Commission. In an email to The Ka'u Calendar, Conifer listed eight reasons why the Commission should have denied the permit to build a cell phone tower on the proposed one-acre site:
    "1. A tower of this size and the supporting 2,400 square feet of infrastructure does not belong in the center of a neighborhood. It can and should be located in areas zoned for commercial or industrial uses. We believe many other sites locally would be better suited to this project and meet coverage needs.
    "2. The potential destruction of property from cell tower fires that could occur 150 feet above our homes and spread through the dry vegetation is a real concern after all the fire damage we've seen on the islands. We do not want additional fire hazards brought into our residential neighborhood. Cell towers have frequently collapsed due to fire or high winds and could potentially fall on an adjacent property or onto the road due to the inappropriate size of the lot.
   "3. Dangerous and flammable materials stored onsite create hazards of an industrial nature. We oppose the onsite storage of these substances.
Kahuku County Park near the cell tower site is a popular gathering
place for Ocean View residents including the Marshallese
community. Photo from Ceceta Carlend
    "4. The use of high-powered generators and the other 2,400 sq ft of industrial infrastructure will cause a noise nuisance in a residential neighborhood.
    "5. Potential for vandalism and debris around the site as seen at the other tower currently existing on a two-acre site in Ocean View at higher elevation.
    "6. The character of the Paradise Circle neighborhood will be changed forever by this construction. The tower will be visible and loom over everyone using the Kahuku County Park's playing fields and playground and for church services all located on the Circle. These facilities get the highest use by Ocean View residents and provide a space for a variety of gatherings in the park pavilion.
    "7. The monopole tower and antennas will obstruct and uglify beyond remedy our beautiful view of the ocean and South Point.
    "8. Devaluation of residential properties due to proximity to a cell phone tower is estimated at up to 20%, according to a HUD report. Renegade Towers' financial gain is at our financial expense. There have been no offers of compensation for the loss of value of our homes. Under existing zoning, no one buying property here expected to be living adjacent to a 150-foot industrial tower."
    Conifer said, "We're not giving up despite the Planning Commission's actions to eliminate our voices and concerns", adding "we have too much to lose, and are looking into all of our options."
    Those supporting the cell tower, including Windward Planning Commissioner Lou Daniele, said that it will help fill a gap in cell reception along Hwy 11 and in Ocean View, including at his own house there.

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.  

STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS CAME FROM GOV. JOSH GREEN on Monday. The governor and physician, who started his career in Kaʻū, promised to make housing more available and affordable for Hawai'i residents and to reduce homelessness and lower the cost of livingHe also promised to help Lahaina recover from the wildfire disaster last year.
"Today I am here to report that — although we have faced great challenges and suffered even greater loss over the past year — we have come together as one 'ohana to recover and to heal, I am here to report that the state of Hawai'i is strong," said the Governor.
    Concerning the housing crisis, particularly on Maui, Green pledged to sign into law, any bill to help
Gov. Josh Green and Mayor Mitch Roth (second and third from left) at the State
 of the State speech in Honolulu on Monday, accompanied by Mayors of Maui
 and O'ahu and Senate and House of Representatives leaders, as well as the
Lieutenant Governor.  Photo from the Governor's Office

move short-term rentals and vacant investment properties owned by non-residents, into the local housing market to increase supply and bring down prices for Hawai'i families. His House Hawai'i's 'Ohana plan would provide exemptions from capital gains, conveyance, and general excise taxes to owners of short-term rentals who sell to a local resident, or who convert a home to a long-term rental to a local resident. He said it would increase supply and bring down prices for local families.
    To address homelessness, Green propose building as many as 20 new tiny-home, kauhale communities across the state. He said he plans to reduce homelessness by 50% by 2026.
   The Governor also proposed a child and dependent tax credit totaling up to $115 million annually for Hawai'i families.
   He talked about his proposed Climate Impact Fees on visitors and said they "will provide the needed resources to protect our environment and increase awareness of the impacts of climate change, without raising taxes or fees on Hawai'i residents."
    He pointed to his supplemental budget for fiscal year 2025 with its emphasis on infrastructure and housing, with requests totaling $373 million, saying it continues to be a top statewide priority.
    The Governor's funding priorities set aside up to $600 million in the budget for Maui's recovery costs that will continue into 2027.
    In his speech, Governor Green also reviewed his first year in office, pointing to "many steps forward," including:
    Phase one of the Green Affordability Plan, which in its first year provided $104 million in direct income
Gov. Josh Green last year presenting his Green Affordability Plan that
 provides tax relief to ALICE families. Photo from the Governor's Office
tax relief to Hawai'i's ALICE families, who are Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, (and) Employed. "Some 44% of all families in our state are ALICE families, barely getting by. Sixty-three percent of all Hawaiian families fall into this category. The Phase One tax relief package supported working families by doubling Hawai'i's earned income tax credit and our food tax credit."
    Green said the teacher shortage was slashed by more than 50% in a single year after he negotiated a new four-year contract with the Hawai'i State Teachers Association and the 13,500 teachers it represents.
   He noted that some 10,800 new units of low-income housing for struggling families were immediately approved under the Emergency Proclamation on Housing. Attention is now focused on affordable housing projects in urban Honolulu and along the growing rail route.
   The Build Beyond Barriers Working Group has also begun to reform housing bureaucracy, and has approved or accelerated multiple new projects that will bring thousands of homes to teachers, nurses, firefighters, and working families across the state in the coming years, said Green.
    The state's first medical respite kauhale, Pūlama Ola, was opened for a six-month pilot period, in the Governor's backyard. "The successful project's lessons will be used at additional kauhale that will be opened around the state, using $33 million appropriated by state lawmakers at the Governor's request," said the statement on his speech. It also mentions, "The first significant gun buyback initiative in the state removed some 500 firearms from O'ahu's streets, and more are planned."
    A full copy of the speech can be found at https://governor.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/State-of-the-State-2024-final-1-1.pdf

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.  

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