News Bites

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory of USGS / Wikimedia Commons

A total of 22 fissures have appeared since May 3rd in Leilani Estates. The eruption has destroyed at least 29 homes, and lava has covered more than 150 acres of land. 

A community meeting is being held today at 5:30 PM at the Pāhoa High School Cafeteria.

Hawaiʻi Island Sees Drop in Visitor Bookings

21 hours ago
Meyer Werft / Wikimedia Commons

Earlier today, Governor David Ige, through the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, reassured the world that "travel is safe to the Hawaiian Island." Ige emphasized that the volcanic activity is having no effect on other islands.

But even though Kīlauea's latest eruptive phase is mainly affecting the Puna area, there have been a rash of island-wise cancellations for June and July because tourists mistakenly think the entire state is a disaster area. Some cruise ships are avoiding Hilo and even Kona as a port of call.

Changes Coming to Daniel K. Inouye International Airport

May 17, 2018
Flickr

The state is in the throes of a three billion dollar modernization project at the Honolulu airport. If you plan to travel next month, heads up! This week transportation officials announced it is changing the gate numbers, all in advance of big changes at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

New Virus Discovered in Kāneʻohe Bay

May 17, 2018
Christopher Schvarcz / UH News

Researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa have discovered a new type of virus. This new species has been found inhabiting algae on Windward Oʻahu.

Electric Scooter Rentals Run Afoul of City

May 16, 2018
Casey Harlow

Limebike is a bikeshare and electric scooter rental company from the San Francisco Bay area. The company's entry into the Hawaiʻi market this past weekend is getting a cold reception from Mayor Kirk Caldwell. The city sent a letter warning the company to discontinue putting the vehicles on the streets and sidewalks. 

cogdogblog / Flickr

State and federal officials are investigating and responding to the deaths of several ʻōhiʻa trees on Kauaʻi.

Lawsuit Filed in Case of Faulty Ala Moana Railing

May 10, 2018
JDNX / Flickr

Honolulu City Councilman Trevor Ozawa introduced Bill 17 after a rusted railing ended the life of one man and critically injured a second at Ala Moana Shopping Center. However, the bill has come up against stiff opposition and has not advanced. The issue is back in the spotlight as a lawsuit has now been filed against General Growth Properties on behalf of the families of the two men involved in the fall at the popular mall.

Eva Schemmel / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Conservationists and researchers now have an estimation of how much fish is being caught from Hawaii’s near-shore reefs.

Department of Education

A new payment system for public school lunches is being unveiled next week.

Legislature Funds 'Safe Zones' for Homeless

Apr 30, 2018
NPR

On Friday, legislators announced an agreement to set aside $30 million to address the homeless crisis. Conferees want to creat special zones for homeless. Some call them "safe zones," or ʻohana zones or kōkua zones. It's not an approach state and county homeless coordinators fully embrace.

TeroVesalainen / Pixabay

Hawaiʻi County is the only county in the state without some form of restriction on temporary vacation rentals. Last week, County Councilmembers introduced Bill 108 – a measure that would regulate how and where properties can be rented short term.

The 2018 Legislative Session is winding down. HPR's Political Reporter Wayne Yoshioka gives The Conversation's Catherine Cruz an update on what passed, what died, and which bills are still in committee.

State Legislators Unveil Affordable Housing Initiative

Apr 25, 2018
Honolulu Habitat for Humanity

House Bill 2748, dubbed the "Bob Nakata Act," recognizes the former state senator and lobbyist for his many years of advocacy for affordable housing. At a news conference yesterday, legislators said they made good on their resolve to do something bold to address the shortage of affordable rental housing. The $200 million agreement aims to jumpstart construction by reducing building costs.

Schatz Pushes for Debt Free College

Apr 23, 2018
Sakeeb / Flickr

$1.4 trillion. That is how much Americans nationwide owe in student loan debt. All of that debt has some policy makers worried, including Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz. He sponsored the Debt Free College Act of 2018 - with the goal of making public higher education affordable without the need for student loans.

Honolulu Councilmember Goes After Monster Home Violators

Apr 23, 2018
Catherine Cruz

City enforcement of zoning and building laws has been a chronic problem. After one local contractor, Brilliant Construction, continued building after receiving an order to stop. City Councilmember Ikaika Anderson is trying to get tough on violators.

Radio Reading for the Blind

Apr 20, 2018
Catherine Cruz

Throughout the week, The Conversation looked at various volunteer opportunities across the state. To close out the series, The Conversation's Catherine Cruz looked into the Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled; which provides services for only a fraction of the thousands of people across the state who are either born blind, or have lost their vision later in life.

Financial Relief for Flood Victims

Apr 19, 2018
Catherine Cruz

Promises of additional flood relief are pouring in from the government as well as private donors. Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg pledged a million dollars and eBay Founder Pierre Omidyar already donated $200,000 in disaster relief. Residents of East Honolulu and Waimanalo may also be eligible for federal state and county assistance after those communities were declared disaster areas by Governor David Ige yesterday.

Tension High Over Airport Rideshare Pilot Program

Apr 19, 2018
Wayne Yoshioka

Long simmering tensions between the local taxi companies and transportation network companies, Uber and Lyft, erupted again. The spark was a public hearing to discuss a pilot program that allows the ride sharing companies to pick up and drop off passengers at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu. The state quietly extended the program until September, and yesterday was the first time taxi and limousine drivers had a chance to vent before the Small Business Regulatory Review Board.

Hundreds Rescued from Kauai's North Shore

Apr 17, 2018
DVIDS / U.S. Coast Guard

Following the weekend flooding, the Hanalei District - including Wainiha and Haʻena, faced heavy damage. The Hanalei River became swollen, and many neighborhoods and farmlands flooded. Emergency rescue crews evacuated 152 people by helicopter, 121 by bus and others by water. Currently, it is an active search and rescue effort.

TMT Still Committed to Hawaii, For Now

Apr 16, 2018
Thirty Meter Telescope

The board of the legally beleaguered Thirty Meter Telescope deferred on a decision to relocate the project to the Canary Islands. The announcement came last week following the passage of a Mauna Kea construction ban by one house of the state legislature. Bute a move is not off the table.

Albatross Colony Under Threat from Unlikely Predator

Apr 5, 2018
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A remote atoll within the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is home to an extraordinary collection of seabirds. More than 3 million converging on a tiny space: some 1500 acres. It’s the only nesting ground for two seabird species that face an imminent threat from an unlikely source: invasive house mice that attack and kill nesting Black-footed albatross and Laysan albatross.

Tobacco Restrictions Considered at the Legislature

Apr 5, 2018
ECig Click / Flickr

Lawmakers are taking up two bills today, one making the University of Hawaiʻi a tobacco-free zone and another to restrict access to e-cigs to those under 21. The Hawaii Public Health Institute supports both measures.

Jay Parasco / Office of the Mayor

The failure of counties to enforce zoning codes has added to the state's housing crisis with a staggering number of runaway illegal vacation rentals. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is proposing to try and fix that broken picture by legalizing Bed and Breakfasts, with operators paying higher taxes and penalties for violations.

Wikipedia

Paʻulaʻula o Hipo, the site of Fort Elizabeth, the fort built by Russian trading interests in the early 19th century, is best remembered as the setting for the brief alliance between the Russian-American Company and Kauai's High Chief Kaumualiʻi. But there's more than one story behind what is now a National Historic Landmark.

Wildfires: Hawaii's Overlooked Threat

Mar 30, 2018
National Park Service / nps.gov

Hurricanes and tsunamis get a lot more attention, but wildfires are one of the state's most common threats. Hundreds of wildfires break out across Hawaii every year. The vast majority of them are human-caused.

Shipping Company Prepares for the Next Disaster

Mar 29, 2018
Joseph Boivin / Young Brothers

The vast majority of food and vital goods arrive in Hawaiʻi via cargo ship. The big ships dock in Honolulu Harbor where Young Brothers Shipping then distributes their cargo to ports around the state. A "just-in-time" delivery model means that most shipments go directly from a ship to store shelves, rather than a warehouse. Young Brothers knows how vulnerable island communities are to a disruption of its services and is constantly on alert for the next disaster.

Buonasera / Wikimedia Commons

In Hawaiʻi, there is a lot that ties the state to the Asia-Pacific. Part of that is geography, but it's also culture and economics. Although Hawaiʻi doesn't export much in the way on physical goods, the trade policy set in motion by the Trump Administration could have ripple effects for the Aloha State. Dr. Adam Posen, President of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, shared his perspective on trade issues with The Conversation.

Hawaiʻi's Disaster Vulnerability: Healthcare Challenges

Mar 28, 2018
Maui Memorial Medical Center
Maui Memorial Medical Center

What happens to patients in dialysis centers when there isn't water or power, and they can't stay open? How do patients get their medicines if pharmacies are closed? What about our stockpile of medical supplies? Those scenarios and more were posed to Chris Crabtree, Director of Hawaiʻi Healthcare Emergency Management as part of The Conversation's ongoing look at Hawaiʻi's vulnerability and resiliency during a disaster.

Hawaiʻi's Disaster Vulnerability: Honolulu Harbor

Mar 27, 2018
Daniel Ramirez / Flickr

Hawaiʻi needs to import 3,000 tons of food per day to keep grocery store shelves stocked around the state. All of those goods come into one place: the Port of Honolulu. If damaged, it could take weeks to reopen the harbor after a disaster event. That could leave Hawaiʻi residents in big trouble.

Hawaiʻi's Disaster Vulnerability: Electrical Grid

Mar 27, 2018
Denise Emsley | NAVFAC / Flickr

Hawaiʻi's position as the most remote population center in the world leaves the islands uniquely vulnerable to a disaster. This week, The Conversation explores the vulnerability of Hawaiʻi's people and infrastructure. The first installment of the five-part series takes a look at the electrical grid - where 60% of power plants lie in an inundation zone.

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