News Bites

New Sprinkler Laws for Honolulu

21 hours ago
Wikimedia Commons

Honolulu has a new sprinkler law in place - 8 months after the deadly Marco Polo fire. Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed two bills into law yesterday afternoon. They do not mandate sprinkler installation but do provide tax breaks to encourage installation.  At the signing, Mayor Caldwell expressed his desire to one-day see a mandatory sprinkler law.

Hawaiian Group Clashes with State Over Waimanalo Land

Mar 15, 2018
Catherine Cruz

A group of Native Hawaiians claiming to be descendants of King Kamehameha I is headed for a clash with the state -- the second time in two years.  The group had been evicted from a 5 acre parcel in Waimanalo, after a judge threw out their claims and blocked them from filing frivolous suits. The land is in an Agricultural park which the state has unsuccessfully tried to lease out for almost a decade and when the group moved in.

Local Students Walkout in Support of Shooting Victims

Mar 14, 2018
Ryan Finnerty

Wednesday was National Walkout Day at schools across the country. Thousands of students left class at 10 AM to remember the recent victims of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Students here in Hawaii organized events at their own schools. University Laboratory School students organized a walkout at their school and shared their motives and hopes for the event with HPR's The Conversation.

State Relaxing Animal Quarantine Rules

Mar 13, 2018
Wikimedia Commons

For decades, Hawaii had some of the strictest animal quarantine rules in place, in an effort to keep the islands rabies-free. However, the rules are relaxing with restrictions being front-loaded avoiding months of quarantine. 

The Challenges of Temporary Vacation Rentals

Mar 12, 2018

Unpermitted vacation rentals have been blamed for everything from sky-high housing prices to overcrowded hiking trails. But what is really going on with Hawaii’s short-term rental market? How many properties are permitted for vacation rentals? And how many are actually being used that way?

Elisha Wood-Charlson / UHM/ SOEST

A small fleet of state-of-the-art research submersibles are scheduled to launch from Oʻahu tomorrow.

Judge Rules in Red Hill Lawsuit

Mar 8, 2018
Commander, Navy Installations Command

A recent court decision is casting new light on what to do about Red Hill. It's where the military has 20 massive underground steel tanks; one, which leaked 27,000 gallons. A circuit court judge ruled that the state Department of Health improperly gave the military an exemption from underground fuel storage rules. The Sierra Club hopes the ruling will now give state health officials more reason to press for an expedited schedule to upgrade the facility.

U.S. Air Force

March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month and the state Department of Health is holding events throughout the month to raise awareness.

State Auditor Discusses Reviews of OHA, HTA

Mar 7, 2018
Catherine Cruz

The State Auditor’s most recent report flags a failing documents system and short-staffing at the Public Utilities Commission. Another flagged a communications breakdown in the Department of Health as well as problems with the state energy office. But it’s the findings of two agencies - the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Hawaii Tourism Authority that Les Kondo is particularly concerned about.

Regulating Emotional Support Animals

Mar 6, 2018
Molly Hayden / U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs

Dogs in service vests are an increasingly common sight in public spaces. But it may surprise you to learn that there is little legal regulation over the training and certification of service dogs and emotional support animals. Lawmakers here in Hawaiʻi are considering a bill that would begin to change that.

Hawaiʻi a National Leader in Captive Insurance Plans

Mar 5, 2018
Creative Commons Images

Even for those fortunate to hae it, health insurance can still be a significant monthly expense for many families. The same goes for the employers who provide coverage. But what if you no longer had to deal with co-pays and premiums? That is the reality for workers whose employers use a type of coverage called captive insurance.

Changing Workplace Etiquette

Mar 2, 2018
U.S. Army

Many of the sexual harassment scandals that have surfaced through the #MeToo movement have occurred in the workplace. The movement shows no signs of going away, and that means workers of both genders need to refine a kind of workplace etiquette that can't be misunderstood.

Hawaiʻi's First Sanctuary Church

Mar 1, 2018

Harris United Methodist Church began exploring the idea of being a sanctuary church more than a year ago. Its congregation voted on it last spring, but it was only until this past fall that it openly talked about its new ministry. It includes lending supporting to immigration cases like the one of Maui resident Tania Venegas who was facing deportation.

Using Dogs to Track Invasive Chameleons

Feb 28, 2018

Scientists charged with protecting our endangered species are turning to man’s best friend to ferret out rats, slugs, and Jackson's Chameleons. Those invasive species threaten endangered snails but are often very difficult to locate.


Seven popular species of bottom fish are thriving in waters around the main Hawaiian Islands.

Honolulu, Kauai Counties Ban Lying Down at Bus Stop

Feb 26, 2018
Surf100ify / Wikimedia Commons

Bus riders have long complained about homeless turning those shelters into their bedrooms or worse bathrooms. Last week, Honolulu Mayor Kick Caldwell signed a ban on sleeping at bus stops into law. Kauai County enacted a similar ban that took effect last week. 

Hawaii Tourism Authority

An audit of the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority is calling for better oversight of the agency.

Biki Eyes Expansion

Feb 22, 2018
Casey Harlow

Biki is tapping into matching federal funds to expand its bike stations this summer. Bikeshare Hawaiʻi runs the Honolulu-based bike rental program that launched last summer. And program officials want public suggestions on the location of potential stations.

Images of Money / Flickr

The Hawaiʻi County Council is considering a ballot initiative to make government salary adjustments more transparent.

Samuel King Jr. / U.S. Air Force

Following the deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school, there is a lot of attention on school safety. The number of gun incidents in Hawaiʻi schools has actually dropped. Last year there were 21 incidents all involving air guns.

Epigenetics Study in Waiʻanae

Feb 15, 2018
Public Domain Pictures

Rates of diabetes, obesity and alcoholism run high among Native Hawaiians. A researcher is using his family ties and inspiration to change a community's health habits for the better.

Honolulu City Council Explores Monster Home Regulation

Feb 14, 2018
Catherine Cruz

Critics say extra-large structures known as “Monster Homes” are apartment buildings masquerading as single or two family dwellings in residential neighborhoods. Issues of parking, impact on property taxes, and sewer capacity prompted calls for relief, but the City Council is struggling with how best to address the situation.

Hawaii State Board on Geographic Names Mulls Changes

Feb 13, 2018
National Park Service

Iao Stream or Wailuku River? Mauna Kea or Maunakea? These are just a couple of the challenges before the Hawaii Board of Geographic Names.

Wikimedia Commons

A settlement has been reached between the Environmental Protection Agency and Syngenta Seeds. / pex

Video games with pay-to-win prize options may soon have some restrictions in the state.

Casey Harlow

The state employee who triggered last month’s false missile warning is speaking out. He claims that he is a scapegoat being used to cover up systematic failures and higher-level mistakes.

Remembering the Reality of Plantation Life

Feb 7, 2018
Wikimedia Commons

The stories of everyday people aren’t often recorded. University of Hawaii-West Oahu’s Center for Labor Education and Research (CLEAR) is collating a priceless archive of Hawaii’s history: unedited first-person reminiscences of plantation life. 

Governor Ige Signs Net Neutrality Executive Order

Feb 6, 2018
Wikimedia Commons

You may remember that back in December, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal so-called “net neutrality” rules. Governor Ige has signed an Executive Order that requires all Internet Service Providers that do business with the State of Hawaii to adhere to net neutrality principles.

Budget Unpredictability Harms U.S. Military Readiness

Feb 5, 2018
U.S Department of Defense

Five months into the current fiscal year Congress has yet to pass an annual budget, opting instead for short-term spending bills called Continuing Resolutions to fund the government. That method of accounting hits every part of the U.S. government and the Secretary of the Air Force says she cannot run her branch of the military that way.

Jessica Ferracane / NPS Photo

Residents have an opportunity to comment on a proposed fee increase to access Hawaiʻi’s national parks.