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Friday, February 16, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs Feb. 16, 2024

A Punalu'u Village Wellness Center area would have shallow water features, 130 accommodations,
sports venues, spa, retail, dining and other offerings. The public hearing is Thursday, March 7. 
Image from Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, LLC

THE PUBLIC HEARING ON PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT AT PUNALU'U, on Thursday, March 7 at 9 a.m. at Hilo County Council Chambers, is the lead in County Council member Michelle Galimba's latest newsletter, Released on Friday. It says:
   "Punalu'u, with its unique cultural and natural resources, is treasured by many in our district. The Windward Planning Commission will be taking up an SMA Major permit application for a
Sixty-three new condominiums at Colony 2 would be among some
 225 new accommodations that would be built, according to the
 new plan by Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, LLC. that goes to public
hearing on March 7. Image from Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, LLC
proposed development project on March 7, 2024. Please find details for the meeting here. Testimony can be provided in person, on Zoom, or in writing." The County notice with meeting details is at: https://records.hawaiicounty.gov/WebLink/1/edoc/128532/2024-03-07%20Planning%20Commission%20Agenda.pdf.
    Galimba's newsletter includes the county notice: "A Special Management Area (SMA) Use Permit application, regarding proposed development of 225-unit residential and commercial community located in Punalu'u, has been filed with the County of Hawai'i Planning Department. Click here to view the application. The SMA will go into review by the Windward Planning Commission on Thursday, March 7, 2024 at 9:00 am."
    "The public will be able to observe the meeting from the YouTube live stream.
    "Statements from the Public: The public may provide written testimony via email at WPCtestimony@hawaiicounty.gov or submitted at the Hilo or Kona Planning Department. Please refer to the agenda for more information.
"The public may also provide verbal testimony at the meeting via Zoom. To testify via Zoom, please register online no later than noon on the day prior to the meeting."
See more information: Public Records on Hawaiʻi County Website.

THE REGULATION OF VACATION RENTALS is emphasized in Council member Michelle Galimba's
Ka'u's County Council member
Michelle Galimba

newsletter released Friday, following up on her January newsletter. In both, she calls it "one of the most far-reaching pieces of legislation, in process at this time." Bill 121 "seeks to provide a consistent framework to regulate the Transient Accommodation Rental (TAR) business in Hawai'i County. You can learn more about this bill at https://www.hawaiicountytar.com/
    "The Planning, Land Use, and Economic Development Committee of the County Council recently heard Bill 121 and moved to pass it on to the Leeward and Windward Planning Commissions, as well as the Planning Director, for review and recommendation. Bill 121 will receive another hearing in Committee, as well as 2 hearings at the full Council, so there are numerous opportunities to provide feedback on this Bill."
    Galimba said again that "To help address the lack of housing and the affordability crisis in our County, Council Member Jenn Kagiwada and I continue to work on Bill 104, which will create a new Long-Term Rental tax class that will provide a preferential real property tax rate for property owners to rent their houses long-term (more than 180 days). This bill will be taken up again in the Finance Committee on February 21."

VOLCANO WATCH - DEAR VALENTINE, WILL YOU BE MY LAB PARTNER? This Valentine week's Volcano Watch from USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory says they lava "working with our partners at the University of Hawai'i" and want to highlight the appreciation for the relationship:
    Faculty and students in the UHH Geology and Anthropology Departments contribute to both volcano monitoring and research in Hawai‘i. Recently, seismic unrest southwest of Kīlauea’s summit alerted HVO to a new intrusion of magma that occurred over a three-day period. The intrusion resulted in slight changes in ground elevations and new surface cracks along the Maunaiki trail in the Ka‘ū Desert of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.
    UHH geology and anthropology faculty and students conducted GPS and leveling surveys over the past two weekends, tracking changes in the pre-existing cracks along the Koa‘e fault system south of Kīlauea’s summit. The major cracks in this area (not to be confused with the new cracks) have been monitored since 1966 using much of the same equipment that we still employ today: a tape measure, a ruler 9.8 feet (leveling rod three meters) tall, and a telescopic sighting scope.
HVO geologist Baylee McDade shows students from the UHH petrology
 class how to use the scanning electron microscope (SEM) to analyze
 minerals. Research in the SEM lab helps HVO and UHH to better
 understand how and why volcanoes in Hawai‘i erupt.
USGS photo by Lis Gallant
    The data collected by the group shows that the faults along the Koa‘e were squeezed together by several inches (centimeters) and the ground was raised by more than a foot (30+ centimeters) in some areas from the intrusion. The surveying adds specific information to help "ground truth" other monitoring datasets in the area, such as satellite, GPS, and tilt.
    HVO staff are also committed to giving back to the UHH community through education, outreach, and hands on student research and field opportunities. This week, HVO geologists participated in the UHH Geology department’s petrology laboratory course to expose students to analytical techniques. Petrology is the study of what rocks are made of.
    During their regularly scheduled class period, HVO staff met with UHH students in the scanning electron microscope (SEM) laboratory housed in the Marine Science building. For their lab assignment this week, student groups in the SEM lab learned techniques for doing petrological monitoring and research on Hawaii’s active volcanoes.
    Students were shown how the SEM operates and how it can help scientists better understand the compositions of rocks and minerals from Hawaiian eruptions. Using a sample from Mauna Loa's 1855-1856 eruption, we demonstrated how energy dispersive spectrometry (EDS) analysis can identify different types of minerals (olivine, plagioclase, pyroxene) based on the major elements in their chemical structure.
    Students were also introduced to some new instrumentation on the SEM called a wavelength dispersive spectrometer (WDS). This new equipment, funded by the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 (H.R. 2157), allows us to conduct standardized measurements on samples that are quantitative and comparable to other analytical technologies. This type of functionality was not available on the Island of Hawai‘i prior to 2019.
    In addition to education and outreach, HVO staff are committed to providing student opportunities for professional development and research. Through a cooperative agreement with the Research Corporation of the University of Hawai‘i, an undergraduate student works with HVO scientists in the lab, specifically focused on processing samples during eruptions for near-real-time geochemical monitoring. In the fall of 2023, three additional students were involved in laboratory projects supporting ongoing research on Kīlauea’s recent eruptions.

    HVO has also hosted Pacific Internship Programs for Exploring Science (PIPES) students in the past, and, in the future, we hope to involve PIPES interns in laboratory-based research on Kīlauea’s recent eruptions. Through these various activities HVO strives to support UHH students (and faculty), and this
Valentine’s Day we wish to express our gratitude for all of their hard work.
    Volcano Activity Updates
    Kīlauea is not erupting. Its USGS Volcano Alert level is ADVISORY.
    Disbursed seismicity at Kīlauea's summit and along the Koa‘e fault system southwest of the caldera continues following an intrusion of magma into the area that occurred January 31-February 1, 2024; on average, earthquake counts remain below 10 per hour. Tiltmeters near Sand Hill and Uēkahuna bluff have recorded little change over the past week, both show mild inflationary trends. Periods of increased earthquake activity and rates of ground deformation can be expected to continue in this region. No unusual activity has been noted along the rift zones.
    Mauna Loa is not erupting. Its USGS Volcano Alert Level is at NORMAL.
    Webcams show no signs of activity on Mauna Loa. Summit seismicity has remained at low levels over the past month. Ground deformation indicates continuing slow inflation as magma replenishes the reservoir system following the 2022 eruption. SO2 emission rates are at background levels.
    Nineteen 19 earthquakes were reported felt in the Hawaiian Islands during the past week, those above M3 are listed here: a M3.4 earthquake 4 km (2 mi) WSW of Pāhala at 36 km (22 mi) depth on Feb. 12, at 7:10 p.m. HST, a M3.8 earthquake 11 km (6 mi) E of Pāhala at 0 km (0 mi) depth on Feb. 12 at 4:52 a.m. HST, a M3.4 earthquake 3 km (1 mi) WSW of Pāhala at 36 km (22 mi) depth on Feb. 9 at 10:38 a.m. HST, a M3.5 earthquake 3 km (1 mi) SSW of Pāhala at 34 km (21 mi) depth on Feb. 9 at 10:12 a.m. HST, a M3.0 earthquake 3 km (1 mi) WSW of Pāhala at 37 km (22 mi) depth on Feb. 9 at 10:11 a.m. HST, a M5.7 earthquake 2 km (1 mi) SW of Pāhala at 36 km (22 mi) depth on Feb. 9 at 10:06 a.m. HST, and a M3.1 earthquake 14 km (8 mi) ESE of Pāhala at 0 km (0 mi) depth on Feb. 9 at 5:17 a.m. HST.

Miloli'i-Kaʻū Volleyball Club's bright shirts with native design will light up Robert Herkes Kaʻū District Gym on Saturday and Sunday for the annual Miloli'i-Kaʻū Tournament. Entry is free and food concession helps takes local kids to an O'ahu tournament.
Photo by Julia Neal

THE ANNUAL MILOLI‘I-KAʻŪ JUNIORS VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT EXPECTS 42 TEAMS THS WEEKEND in four divisions, 10s, 12s, 14s and 16s age groups. Organizer Ka‘imi Kaupiko said the play will be Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend, free of charge.
     Support goes toward travel to the Aloha Summer Classic tournament from May 17-19 on O'ahu. Concessions at Herkes Kaʻū District gym will help with the fundraising. To donate, go to the games or contact Kaupiko at 808-937-1310.

5,000 in the mail, 2,500 on the streets.

The Kaʻū Calendar newspaper, 5,000 in the mail. 2,500 on the streets.