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August 2021 Email Update

The July median sales price for both single-family homes and condos set records as demand continues to greatly exceed the available supply.  The median price for single-family homes was $992,500 (21.8% higher than July 2020) and for condos was $475,000 (8.0% higher than July 2020).  The lack of available single-family homes is constraining the market with the growth in the number of closings per month dropping.  The number of single-family homes sold in July rose 11.9% while the number of condos sold in July jumped 57.5% compared to last year.  There is 1.3 months of inventory in single-family homes and 2.0 months of inventory in condos.

The governor’s eviction moratorium expired on August 7th after the state legislature teamed up with the governor to make evictions for failing to pay rent significantly more complicated.  The new 15-day demand letter must contain a significant amount of information and the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii has put a checklist on its website to help landlords write a complete letter.  Landlords can visit the link below for more information on the unnecessarily complicated eviction process.

Eviction Moratorium

Ige signed a bill on July 1st requiring home sellers to disclose if their property lies in a sea level rise exposure area.  The new law takes effect on 5/1/2022.  Tracey has already tested the website using her home address and answering the question seems straight forward.  You can visit the website using the link below:

State of Hawaiʻi Sea Level Rise Viewer

The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations announced that it will open its offices on all islands to help people with unemployment benefit problems in person starting September 7th, roughly eighteen months after Governor David Ige’s emergency proclamations essentially shutdown private businesses for months.  While those in the private business sector that could operate have navigated the frequently changing regulatory landscape focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment office has been conspicuously closed despite the department’s failure to provide timely financial relief to families in greatest need.

Mayor Blangiardi has slowly started to enforce the law in Chinatown after abandoning Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s homeless sweeps in Honolulu after receiving complaints from Chinatown residents and businesses about the increasing lawless environment in Chinatown primarily from homeless individuals.  The mayor announced that six officers and one supervisor would work four six-hour shifts patrolling Chinatown on foot to stop illicit drug use, disorderly conduct, assault, criminal property damage, sit-lie violations, and public urination and defecation.  The shifts are currently staffed by officers putting in overtime hours.

The Honolulu Star Advertiser interviewed a retired Federal Transit Administration (FTA) official who worked at the organization for 30 years.  He retired as director of the Office of Project Planning at the FTA and was responsible for evaluating every rail project in the country, including the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART), until he retired in 2009.  The individual who has followed the HART project after he retired states that the project’s cost overruns are “unimaginable” and “the Honolulu project is way beyond anything that I’ve observed.”  He states that a 2007 study analyzing 21 completed rail projects, showed actual costs exceeding the original estimated cost in the cities’ Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) by 6.2 percent.  The current $12.449 billion price tag of HART’s project exceeds the FFGA cost estimate of $5.12 billion by 143%.  Interim CEO, Lori Kahikina, disputed the average cost overrun figures without citing any other projects in the nation in typical Hawaii government official fashion.  Failing to properly plan and budget government projects appears so ingrained in the state of Hawaii’s and city of Honolulu’s culture, that local leaders are incapable of comprehending the abilities of other states and cities and learning from them. Here are some pictures of the project:

Oahu's Rail Transit

A sad Associated Press article highlights the city of Honolulu’s failure to address and treat mentally ill people and its homeless problem.  The Hawaii Innocence Project stated that a homeless individual was wrongly arrested for someone else’s crime and committed to the state mental hospital for more than two years without completing the most basic checks to verify his identity.  A Honolulu police officer mistakenly identified the individual, the public defender’s office provided ineffective counsel, the Hawaii State Hospital (HSH) staff declared him delusional and psychotic because he continued to deny the mistaken identity until a hospital psychiatrist finally listened.  The psychiatrist asked a HPD detective to verify fingerprints and photographs that showed they had the wrong man.  Additionally, a simple Google search and a few phone calls would have confirmed that the actual suspect was already locked up in an Alaskan jail.  A secret meeting was held by government officials involved and the victim was quietly sent to his sister with no apology and no public record of the incident ever occurring.  It is no wonder why the FBI must get involved to hold incompetent and corrupt government employees accountable like Louis and Katherine Kealoha. Here's the complete video report, you may click the link below:

Case of mistaken identity keeps man locked up at Hawaii State Hospital for 2 years

Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) has rolled out a program to encourage customers to add battery storage to the new or existing rooftop storage systems to avoid potential power shortages when Oahu’s largest power plant, a coal-fired power plant at Campbell Industrial Park in Kapolei, is retired in September 2022.  The retiring 180-megawatt power plant currently produces 16% of Oahu’s electricity during peak evening hours.  The battery systems will provide power to the owner or the electrical grid for two hours between 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm.  The program provides customers a one-time payment between $500 and $850 per kilowatt of new battery storage depending on how quickly an individual participates.  Existing customers with photovoltaic systems will be able to add five kilowatts of new solar panels.  People that provide the initial 15 megawatts of battery storage will receive $850 per kilowatt added, then the payment drops to $750 per kilowatt for the next 15 megawatts, and then to $500 per kilowatt.  The program is a unique approach to addressing the difficulty of managing the uneven power production by renewable energy systems like solar and wind power.  As a point of reference, the website, solarmetric.com, stated that a Tesla Powerwall that can provide 13.5 kWh of useable electricity currently costs about $7,500.

The Honolulu Department of Parks announced a two-week pilot program on July 27th allowing Hawaii residents to enter Hanauma Bay without a reservation in response to continuous complaints that residents can’t obtain a reservation on the city’s website.  Scientists documented last year water that clarity improved, and sea life activity increased when Hanauma Bay was shutdown to tourists last year.  The city compared Hanauma Bay’s visitor numbers in May 2019 and May 2021. 90% of the visitors in 2019 were out of state residents including children and 85% of visitors in 2021 were out of state residents.  The city hopes that the balance between preserving Hanauma Bay and providing access will be maintained while providing state residents reasonable access to city and state parks.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) closed the Maunawili Falls Trail on July 8th for two years to conduct long-term repairs and improvements.  The Maunawili Falls Trail has suffered significant damage from thousands of visitors hiking the wet and muddy trail over the years and trampling the vegetation in the process.  Like many other hiking spots on the islands, Maunawili is suffering from accelerating wear and erosion from social media driven activity.  DLNR has hired a firm to determine user capacity of the trail and come up with a management strategy.  The Department of Forestry and Wildlife is working with a private landowner to permanently close the access point at Maunawili Estate. The project may include a change to the trail to protect historic and cultural sites and a separate parking area for hikers.  While the trailhead is closed, hikers can still visit the falls via the Maunawili Trail that is accessible from the scenic overlook on the Pali Highway located on the hairpin curve as you head to Kailua.

300 fans, mostly kids, descended on Punahou’s campus to support Team USA while they practiced at the school’s pool on July 8th.  Team USA practiced in Hawaii for two weeks at Punahou and two other pools prior to their flight to Japan.  One Punahou senior watching the practice commented, “It’s so different seeing them in person than on TV.  They’re big.” You might want to take a look at The Magazine of Punahou School sharing about this one in a lifetime event:

USA Olympic Swim Team at Punahou

Hawaii’s Carissa Moore took home the first Olympic gold medal awarded for surfing on July 27th.  The four-time world surfing champion mastered the unfamiliar Japanese surf while some top surfers struggled in the changing conditions.  Carissa Moore, a Punahou graduate, is one of many Olympic competitors that are fellow alumni of Tracey and her two children, Mark and Ashley.  Here is a video clip featured in NBC’s coverage of the 2021 Olympics featuring current and past Olympic competitors from Punahou.

NBC’s coverage of the 2021 Olympics

Two tourists were each fined $500 for touching two resting Hawaiian monk seals in separate instances when they posted the encounters on Instagram and authorities became aware of the activities.  In each case, the monk seals barked their displeasure at the individuals when touched.  Governor Ige posted on several social media sites that any individual found to harass endangered Hawaiian wildlife will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement investigated both incidents and levied the fines.

A team of researchers from the University of Hawaii and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University (Australia) found that wild pigs have a large impact on biodiversity with the islands in the Pacific experiencing the most disruption.  20% of all species in Polynesia are affected by wild pigs as they destroy critical nesting sites for hundreds of threatened reptiles, amphibians, and birds.  Feral pigs are considered by many as much of a threat as feral cats, rodents, mongooses, and wild dogs.  Apparently, Tim’s solution, more bacon, is not an option in Hawaii since the animals carry trichinosis.  Pigs (Puaa) were introduced to Hawaii by the Polynesians and then Capt. James Cook introduced European breeds released into the wild resulting in the larger Hawaiian pigs creating havoc today.

University of Hawaii Hilo (UH Hilo) researchers found a ‘ua’u (Hawaiian petrel) nest on Maunakea for the first time since 1954.  The endangered seabird has only been observed on the slopes of Haleakala for the past 67 years.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the first wild nululu (Bonin petrels) have returned to James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge on Oahu’s North Shore to nest and raise their young after being transported to Oahu from Midway Atoll and Tern Island.  This is the fifth successful project where conservationists have moved threatened species from the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument to higher nesting sites on Oahu.  Other successful relocations include the Laysan albatross, black-footed albatross, red-tailed tropicbird, and wedge-tailed shearwater.

The Awesome Foundation, a charitable organization founded by Tracey, teamed up with the National Geographic Society and the Ko’olau Foundation to fund a storyboard at Naoneala’a a Kaneohe, also known as Kaneohe Beach Park, to document the historical significance of the location.  In 1737, the chiefs of Maui, Kauai, Oahu, and Hawaii Island met on the site at the urging of their advisors to make peace after fighting for years.  In 1867, the new Oahu chief traveled around Oahu and stopped at the site throwing sand on the beach from his canoe and declaring his presence.  The beach was named Naoneala’a meaning the sands (naone) of La’amaikahiki.  The chief lived in the area during his reign and built three heiau (Hawaiian temple) in the area.  The Awesome Foundation has donated over $95,000 to various Oahu projects since its founding.  Here is a link to the organization’s website:

The Awesome Foundation

The 11th Annual Food & Wine Festival published this year’s schedule and tickets went on sale on July 9th.  67 chefs will participate with winemakers and mixologists with a focus on locally sourced products and companies.  The festival takes place on the Big Island October 1st & 2nd, on Maui from October 7th through the 10th, and on Oahu from October 14ththrough the 24th.  You can visit the website using the below link for more a full event schedule and more information.

Hawaii Food and Wine Festival

The drama surrounding historic Coco Palms Resort on Kauai continued with the foreclosure auction that took place on the 5th Circuit Court steps in July.  The company that purchased the property announced its plans to restore the property in 2013.  The project was delayed by a Native Hawaiian group that filed a suit ultimately dismissed in 2018.  The property has been a molding wreck since it was destroyed 30 years ago by Hurricane Iniki and represents another Hawaii failure to support business and development in an orderly and predictable manner.

Here is a link to a computer-generated air tour of Honolulu.  Enjoy.

Tourist and cultural sightseeing route by 3D aerial  view of the city.

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