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Sunday, April 28, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs April 28, 2024

Keep Kaʻū Country
Nationally published illustrator John Inserra, who lives in Kaʻū and works internationally, released this depiction of folks who
vow to Keep Ka‘ū Country. Proponents and opponents of the proposed new development at Punalu‘u claim they want to Keep
Kaʻū Country. A public hearing on the issue is set for next Monday, May 6 at County Council Chambers in Hilo, 9 a.m.
Art by John Inserra

A county helicopter drops water on a fire in Ocean
View on Sunday. Photo by Amy James

A FIRE IN HAWAI‘I OCEAN VIEW ESTATES DREW FIREFIGHTERS AND HELICOPTERS TO DOUSE IT on Sunday afternoon. A report on the Ka‘ū Bulletin Board by Serafina Deegan said the fire broke out between Aloha and Coconut, the fire department staging just off Catamaran. 
    Deegan that before the fire, a person claimed to have seen federal unmarked cars coming down King Kam with a few officers in each car. Another reported forerunners on Hawai‘i Blvd. near KaiLoki's full of "extra suited up law enforcement" this morning. Deegan theorized: "So I'm thinking a warrant search, and/or bust, or a swat on a drug, and or theft ring house. People are surmising that there was a swat on a house. And the criminals set the house on fire. They thought they had the fire put out, but looks like it reignited. Someone is helping the firefighters said there’s no fire anymore just smoke on the ground and hotspots. Someone else said they’re gonna have firefighters overnight here to make sure it doesn't flare up again."
    Other Ocean View residents near the fire reported being evacuated from their homes and 'ohia trees burning.

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DUE TO A SHARP INCREASE IN EARTHQUAKES below the Upper East Rift Zone and Kīlauea summit, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has temporarily closed Hilina Pali Road from Chain of Craters Road. Permits for overnight use of the coastal backcountry, Nāpau campground and Pepeiao Cabin are temporarily suspended. Some 400 quakes a day have been recorded.
Many earthquakes are shown on this USGS image with the red
dots the most recent in the upper East Rift Zone and caldera.
    Kīlauea volcano is not erupting and most of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is open.
   USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory stated, "the significant increase in seismicity beneath the upper East Rift Zone and caldera south of Halemaʻumaʻu that began April 27 is continuing with little change.
    Earthquakes are occurring at rates of 10-15 per hour, compared to 2-5 per hour before April 27." During a recent 24-hour period, over 250 earthquakes occurred beneath the upper East Rift Zone and about 50 beneath the southern end of Kīlauea caldera. The largest earthquakes were between magnitudes 2 and 3, but most were smaller than magnitude-2.
   According to USGS, "It is not possible to say with certainty if this increase in activity will lead to an eruption in the near future – or simply remain confined below ground. However, an eruption in Kīlauea’s summit region or beneath the upper East Rift Zone, within the park, is one potential outcome."
    Updates are being provided daily while the heightened state of unrest continues. Park management will reassess the temporary safety closures Monday and inform the public of any changes.
Check the USGS HVO website for updates: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See upcoming events, print edition and archive at kaunews.com. See 7,500 copies the mail and on stands.

SUPPLIERS OF FRESH PRODUCE CAN SUBMIT BIDS BY MAY 4 TO VIBRANT HAWAI‘I. The food is for this summer's Kaukau 4 Keiki. Beginning Monday, June 17 and running through Friday, July 26, Vibrant Hawaiʻi will serve as Sponsor Agency for the USDA Summer Food Service Program, Kaukau 4 Keiki, for the County of Hawaiʻi. In partnership with 33 sites islandwide, including three in Kaʻū, this program aims to distribute breakfast and lunch food supplies to an estimated 5,070 keiki through the six-week program. Vendors can submit bids for the fresh produce and shelf stable food supplies. Download bid packet at

Kaʻū News Briefs April 27, 2024

Kaʻū's member of the state House of Representatives Jeanne Kapela held a Keep Kaʻū Country sign on Saturday with other protesters of the proposed Punalu'u development plan that goes to public hearing on May 6. Photo by Ophir Danenberg
MORE THAN A DOZEN PEOPLE WAVED SUCH SIGNS AS "BUILD INLAND, BEACHES TOO CROWDED ALREADY," on Saturday at the intersection of Hwy 11 and the road leading to Punalu'u condos, the old golf course and Black Sand Beach. Joining the protesters was Kaʻū's state House of Representative member Jeanne Kapela who said she opposes the development.
    Mike Tom, long time resident of Punalu‘u mauka, also stood in opposition. He said developers lack the understanding and connection to the ‘āina there, while locals are raised with respect and appreciation for Punalu'u. He said it is a difference in perspective that prevents the alignment of interests between the residents of Ka'ū and the developers. He emphasized the importance of protecting Punalu‘u for generations to come.
   The protest was organized by Mālama Punalu‘u and its leader Guy Enriques who grew up there, with his late mother Jeanette Kaualani Howard starting the lei stands at Punalu‘u and he and his brothers and sons serving as volunteer lifeguards and protectors of endangered turtles there for many years.

'Aina Akamu carries a sign saying Protect Our Sacred Lands.
Photo by Ophir Danenberg
    Mālama Punalu‘u urges people to join another sign waving on Saturday, May 4 ahead of traveling in a caravan on Monday, May 6 to testify during hearing for a Special Management Area permit for the development.
    The hearing is at 9 a.m. at the County Council Chambers in Hilo. It is an extension of a March 7 hearing where time ran out after 88 people testified, with 50 remaining in line. About 80 testified against the proposal and eight for the proposal during the first hearing. The proposal is by Black Sand Beach, LLC., which is asking to place 125 accommodations set back a quarter mile from the shore, along with a wellness center and other commercial enterprise. It also proposes eateries, a market, tour bus drop off and other commercial endeavors near the beach. See more on the proposal from Black Sand Beach, LLC at Punalublacksandbeach.com
   See the testimony from the last public hearing on the matter on the County of Hawai‘i Planning Department YouTube Channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/CountyofHawaiiPlanningDepartment.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See upcoming events, print edition and archive at kaunews.com. See 7,500 copies the mail and on stands.

ALIGNMENT OF THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT AT PUNALU‘U with the Kaʻū Community Development Plan was a major discussion at the Kaʻū Community Development Plan Action Committee meeting held in Pāhala this week.
    Committee members and the public quoted from Kaʻū CDP such recommendations as establishing a shoreline setback a quarter of a mile. The proposed development makes that setback for accommodations but not for some of its eateries and other commercial activities near Black Sand Beach.
    CDP directives quoted by Action Committee member Babette Morrow included protecting the coast and
Does commercial enterprise near the coast align with the CDP?
That was one question discussed at the Action Committee meeting.
Photo from Punalu'u Community facebook

minimizing development in the coastal conservation and open areas. She said the CDP recommends: "No development shall be approved in the SMA unless the development would not have any substantial adverse environmental or ecological effect."
    Daryn Arai, former Deputy Director of the county Planning Department, who works with the developer, said the project is consistent with the CDP and recommended that the Action Committee give its opinion on the proposal in a statement to the Planning Commission.
    Committee members Pernell Hanoa, Kaweni Ibarra, Leina‘ala Enos, Jesse Ke, Babette Morrow, Jason Masters and Kaohinani Mokuali‘i made up the quorum for the meeting. They concluded that they needed more information on the alignment of the CDP and proposal before deciding whether to make any group statement.
    A representative from the County Planning Department noted that Committee members could each submit personal testimony and that the Committee can also decide whether to submit.
    During the meeting, Committee Chair Pernell Hanoa stepped down for "personal reasons" and said he would be submitting his own personal testimony on the Punalu‘u issue.
    Jason Masters was voted to take his place with Hanoa becoming vice chair. Masters emphasized that if the Committee should decide to make a recommendation it should be limited to the development plan's alliance with the CDP.
    In public testimony, ‘Āina Akamu listed numerous sections in the Kaʻū CDP, stating they show the proposal's non-alignment with the CDP. He pointed to a section stating that economic development should be directed to existing towns in Ka‘ū and not along the coast. The CDP does recommend building the visitor industry for jobs and entrepreneurship.
Ninole would be a preserve and she would be involved in its stewardship, said Sophia Hanoa who supported Black Sand, LLC
development plan for Punalu‘u during the Community Development Plan Action Committee this week.
Photo from Punalu‘u Community facebook
    In public testimony, Sophia Hanoa said the folks from Black Sand Beach, LLC are "the first developers who were willing to meet with us." She said she believes they want to protect the coast and solve the sewage treatment problem there. She said they will put Ninole into conservation and that she is involved with its stewardship plan. She said she supports the open market plan near Black Sand Beach.
   Candice Ka‘awa, who works as land manager for Black Sand Beach, LLC., said she believes in the sincerity of the developers and noted the work done to keep the sewage plant without any spills and the potable water quality high.
   Action Committee member Leina‘ala Enos urged the committee and commission to take more time to "mālama" the issue. She said that there are more testimonies coming and more adjustments to be made to the plan. She said that she is a community person and it's "kind of hard to live in Kaʻū and have our people against each other... We should be more maka‘ala and be more attentive." She said if the applicant is willing to again meet with the community, "that is always a positive."
     Enos said that the majority of people still need more information. Referring to the small number of people at the meeting and the small groups of people with whom the developers have been recently meeting, Enos said, "It's hard when you have little pockets of people to talk to." She the CDP took eight years to create in the community and contended that any plan for Punalu‘u with acceptance by the community could take two, three, or five years. "People are saying things and get mad with each other. This is not good for our people, not pono."
    See the entire Action Committee meeting on the Planning Department's YouTube channel at

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See upcoming events, print edition and archive at kaunews.com. See 7,500 copies the mail and on stands.
Community members fill up bags for $10 each at the new thrift store at Nā‘ālehu Hongwanji.
Photo by Ophir Dannenberg
Marcia Masters recently opened
a thrift shop at the hongwanji.
Photo by Ophir Dannenberg

A $10 FILL-A-BAG SALE drew many to Nāʻālehu Hongwanji lawn on Saturday. It was an event of Nāʻālehu Resilience Hub and its new Under the Bodhi Tree Thrift Shop, which opened last month under the guidance of Marcia Masters. The shop is open Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
   Donations of clothes and other items came from Salvation Army in Honoka‘a and Doug Arnott in Hilo. The Nāʻālehu Resilience Hub is one of 32 hubs around the island. Its focus is a kitchen that provides free meals. It has been running for four years, with the aim of addressing the issue of food scarcity. The thrift shop opened last month, all profits go toward purchasing food.
   The hub also distributes Kaukau for Keiki, organized by Vibrant Hawai‘i with food purchased by USDA. It will return once a week from June 16 to July 26 during the summer break when children are out of school and miss out on free school breakfasts and lunches. Information to sign up for Kaukau for Keiki will be made available in late May.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See upcoming events, print edition and archive at kaunews.com. See 7,500 copies the mail and on stands.

KA‘Ū HIGH BEAT HONOKA‘A IN FIVE SETS on Saturday in Trojan boys volleyball, under coach Josh Ortega at Herkes Kaʻū District Gym. Athletic Director Jaime Guerpo reports that set scores were 21-25, 25-16, 17-25, 15-21 and 15-10.

Trojans beat Honoka‘a in five sets of boys volleyball on Saturday. Photo by Ophir Dannenberg