Mayor Kim Responds to Hilo Farmers Market Closure

Tarps removed from the Hilo Farmers Market.

Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim released the following statement on Thursday, March 29, 2018, regarding the county’s order removing the tarps and tents from the Hilo Farmers Market:

“The information out there regarding the closure of the Farmer’s Market in Hilo is so wrong and misleading that it prompts this open response,” said Mayor Kim. “The public should know of truth that their government has sincerely tried to help Mr. De La Cruz comply with the county, state and federal laws to keep the market in operation. A commitment was made and kept by the county to help keep it open and develop a place to be proud of. The choices made that caused this closure and hardships imposed on the tenants were not made by your government.

“I will be more than willing to meet with anyone to discuss the history of this closure.”

Hawai‘i County:

Farmers Market Background

The Hilo Farmers Market is an important part of downtown Hilo. It has been successful due to the diversity and freshness of the offerings of its vendors. The county has tried to work with the owner for years to bring the properties into compliance with building, fire, and zoning codes. The conditions were allowed to persist for all these years in deference to constantly changing plans proposed by the owner. Continuous efforts over the past year by the county to guide the owner into compliance were unsuccessful due to delay or no action on the owner’s part.

The only way to finally achieve results was to enforce the notice of violation that the owner received in June of 2017 which clearly stated the consequences if the proper permits were not acquired in a timely fashion. This enforcement was done in fairness and responsibility to all others who follow county, state, and federal requirements.

Violations of County Code and Regulations

  • No building permits. The Farmers Market has been operating for over 20 years without any building permits.  Temporary structures, such as large tents greater than 120 s.f., used for commercial purposes are required to have a temporary building permit which is good for 180 days only.
  • Non-flammable tent material. Tents larger than 750 square feet are required to have non-flammable or non-combustible tent material.  The Fire Department reviewed and approved proposed tent material.  The owner just had to place the order.
  • Non-permitted electrical wiring. Electrical wiring was energized, used, and operated without required electrical inspections and approval of electrical work performed.
  • Extended hours of operation. Farmers Market operations exceeded two days a week as limited by Special Management Area Minor Permit No. 54.
  • Non-permitted sign. A large sign was installed without acquiring the required permits.
  • No setbacks between tents and property boundary. Temporary structures are required to have a 10 foot setback from the property boundaries and 10 foot spacing between tents.

Failure to Construct Permanent Structure as Required

The owner had 10 years to construct a permanent structure as required by SMA approval. The deadline of March 2018 has not been met. The farmers market owner initially received Planning Department approval for a permanent structure in 2008. A condition for approval required completion of construction within five years. In 2013, the owner requested an extension for another five years. The extension was granted with a new deadline of March 18, 2018.

County Assistance Provided

  • Meeting with the Mayor. On Jan.31, 2017, and Feb. 17, 2017, the mayor met with the owner to determine the status of plans to meet the March 2018 deadline and offered assistance to facilitate development.  The mayor assigned an executive assistant to work with the owner.
  • Issues Identified. The executive assistant coordinated with various departments to identify the types, sequence and estimated processing time of permits. Since the farmers market is located in the special flood hazard zone exposed to tsunami and high waves, one major issue was how to comply with these strict standards. Working with the Department of Public Works, a feasible solution was determined that allowed for a simplified structure.
  • Schedule and Budget. The executive assistant helped the owner to assess how much the owner could finance to design and construct a permanent structure based on the substantial total annual rent income the owner receives from the vendors. Additional help also identified steps to start construction of a permanent structure including development of a schedule to meet the March 2018 deadline. The schedule required prompt action by the owner.

Critical and Timely Actions Needed by Owner to Meet Schedule

  • Hire an architect to design a permanent structure and prepare the building permit application.
  • Secure financing for design and construction.
  • Apply for amendment to SMA permits for preferred hours of operation and revised design of structure.
  • Secure Plan Approval for commercial operations.

No Action by Owner

On May 24, 2017, the mayor and several departments met with the owner to assess his progress. Despite assurances from the owner to carry out critical tasks identified in the last meeting, it became evident that the owner made no progress. Consequently, the county issued notice of violations in June 2017 requiring the owner to obtain temporary structure permits or submit plans for a permanent structure. The assessed fines for violations and failure to meet deadlines were clearly outlined in the violation notice.

Time Extensions Granted

Three time extensions were granted over a 6-month period through Dec. 31, 2017, to provide time for the owner to comply. At the end of December 2017, the owner submitted applications for temporary structures. These permits were approved but the owner has not picked up the approved permits.

Order Issued

To motivate action, the only recourse was to issue an order imposing fines as declared in the June 2017 violation notice.

The County of Hawaiʻi has worked closely with the owner and made numerous efforts to help preserve the Hilo Farmers Market and bring it into compliance. It is incumbent upon the owner to continue to work with the county in a timely manner to secure the necessary permits to operate his business.

The county is committed to assisting the owner in developing a permanent farmers market that can be a fixture of the Hilo landscape, provide a safe environment for the community to shop and help make Hilo a beautiful and nice place to live.

Long-Awaited ‘KULEANA’ Opens Today

“KULEANA” is here. PC: BIN

The award-winning film KULEANA began its statewide theatrical release today, Friday, March 30, 2018, at Regal and Consolidated Theaters throughout Hawai‘i.

The film opened the Regal Keauhou Stadium 7 at the Keauhou Shopping Center in Kailua-Kona and the Regal Prince Kuhio 9 in Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo.

Big Island Now attended the noon showing at the Regal Prince Kuhio, where 90 of the 100 seats in theater were filled.

Moviegoers enjoyed the film, sharing their comments with Big Island Now—”great,” terrific,” “brilliant,” “it was wonderful,” “loved it,” “it gave me chicken skin.”

Produced entirely in Hawai‘i, KULEANA has received the Audience Choice Award in the Santa Cruz Film Festival, the Maui Film Festival and the San Antonio Film Festival, as well as “Best of Fest” in the Guam International Film Festival.

Boasting high production values in picture, performances and music, KULEANA has earned the faith of mainland theater giants Reading International (Consolidated) and Regal, which will also open the movie in Guam.

“Kuleana” is the Hawaiian word for spiritual responsibility. In KULEANA, set in Hawai‘i in 1971, a disabled Vietnam vet rediscovers the Hawaiian warrior within to protect his family, defend their land, and clear his father’s name.

Kristina Anapau (True Blood, Black Swan), one of the film’s stars and executive producers, is a Hilo-native, now living and working in Hollywood.

The film also stars Moronai Kanekoa, Stefan Schaefer, Sonya Balmores (Marvel’s INHUMANS), Vene Chun, Augie T, Marlene Sai, Branscombe Richmond (CHICAGO MED) and Mel Cabang.

KULEANA was written and directed by Brian Kohne and produced by Stefan Schaefer.

Willie K provides an original score; the soundtrack boasts hit songs by Joni Mitchell, Procol Harum, and Tony Orlando and Dawn, with Hawaiian classics of the era by Genoa Keawe, Lena Machado, Sunday Manoa, Sons of Hawaii, Marlene Sai and more.

REVIEWS

MAUI TIME, Barry Wurst II: “Brian Kohne’s eagerly awaited KULEANA is a film island audiences deserve but might not be expecting… Ambitious and more absorbing than most 2017 films, [Director Brian] Kohne infuses magical realism, social commentary and Hawaiian history into a dense, busy, but coherent narrative… An original blend of Hawai‘’s history, spirituality and culture. Kuleana introduces a unique new film genre: Hawaiian Noir. While the setting may be tropical paradise, it’s set against a shocking and densely plotted mystery that twists and turns like a Raymond Chandler thriller.

THE MAUI NEWS, Rick Chatanever: “This is heady, heartfelt stuff, a vision of Hawai‘i very different from the Hollywood version. While the plot is sometimes convoluted, and the film’s subtleties, including extensive use of Hawaiian language, might not be as resonant elsewhere… KULEANA’s message is universal. It’s a work of powerful emotions, rich imagination, uncommon cultural sensitivity, and performances and production values belying its tiny budget.

The film received an MPAA PG-13 rating, and also holds a spot on popular movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

Keauhou Shopping Center is located at 78-6831 Ali‘i Drive, H-24. Prince Kuhio Plaza is located at 111 E Puainako St., #400.

Mainland residents can sign up to host/attend a screening in their city at www.hawaiicinema.com via Gathr.

For more information, go online.

Pacific Media Group, Big Island Now’s parent company, is a shareholder in the film KULEANA.

UPDATE 3: Shark Attack on Hawai‘i Island’s Kona Coast

UPDATE 3 : March 31, 1:20 p.m.

25-year-old male was stand-up paddle boarding approximately 100 to 150 yards off shore when he sustained injuries from a suspected shark attack.

Upon EMS arrival at 9:45 a.m., the victim was being treated by bystanders with multiple tourniquets to his right side extremities due to extensive injuries from a suspected shark attack.

The victim was then transported by Aeromedical Helicopter to a local hospital in critical condition where he is currently being treated.

UPDATE 2: March 31, 12:35 p.m.

At about 9:30 this morning, the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources was notified by the Hawai‘i County Fire Department of a shark incident near Kikaua Point fronting Kukio Resort.

A 25-year-old man was taken by HFD helicopter to North Hawai‘i hospital with multiple injuries to his hand and leg.

Standard procedure is for beach closure signs to warn ocean goers for one mile on either side of the incident until noon the next day.

A decision will be made to reopen beaches based on observations tomorrow morning.

UPDATE 1: March 31, 12:12 p.m.

According to an unofficial report, a father and son were paddle boarding together when a shark bumped the son off his board, bit him, and proceeded to go after the father.

Updates will be provided as they become available.

ORIGINAL POST: March 31, 2018, 11:31 a.m.

The Hawai‘i Fire Department reported a shark attack on Saturday, March 31, 2018, at 11 a.m.. The attack occurred at Kukio Beach on the Kona Coast near Hualalai.

Public beach access in this area is closed and will remain closed today.

More information will be published as it becomes available.