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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.

County Orders Hilo Farmers Market to Take Down Tents

The County of Hawai‘i has ordered Hilo Farmers Market to remove the tarps and the tents that have been its primary structures for over 33 years or face $4,000 in fines for each day they remain in place.

Hilo Farmers Market.

According to Keith Del La Cruz, owner and manager of the market, Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim ordered the removal.  When Del La Cruz was asked why the order was given, he said, “That is a good question.”

When asked if the tents would be replaced or what would happen with the vendors, Del La Cruz stated:

“We have been processing with the county for the last seven months for notices and violations. Since June of 2017, we have had our permits and are working with them [the county] in good faith to try and resolve the notices and violations…  and to submit drawings for a new farmers market roof. So just in the last several days, we have received a county order to take down the tarps or get fined each day $4,000 per day.”

Workers removed Hilo Farmers Market tarps on Sunday, March 25, 2018

The market plans to remain open; however, vendors will need to provide their own pop-up tents.

Hilo Farmers Market.

The market owner would still like to process its permits for tenants and a permanent roof. Those application processes are ongoing.

Del La Cruz remains hopeful the county will expedite the permitting process so that there is not a long-term effect on the market “being in a new mode.”

Hilo Farmers Market.

Del La Cruz has been trying to secure financing for a permanent roof; however, the economy has made it very difficult and the order to take down the tents does not include any assistance in securing funding.

Hilo Farmers Market: the end of an era.

Del La Cruz doesn’t know if any notices have been given to any other farmers markets on the island.

Reps. Gabbard & Hanabusa Will Not Accept Salary During Shutdown

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Colleen Hanabusa announced on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, that they will not accept their salary during the federal government shutdown.

Hawaii Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, left, and Colleen Hanabusa. Courtesy photos.

“Congress’ job is to serve the people, and it has failed,” said Rep. Gabbard. “Partisan posturing and grandstanding has taken precedence over human lives. Enough is enough. The failure to pass a year-long budget, and allowing the government to shutdown, while playing political football with issues of humanity is inexcusable. I will not accept any pay during this shutdown, and stand with our troops, law enforcement, first responders, and federal employees in Hawaii and nationwide who continue to serve and report for duty with no pay during this shutdown. Congress needs to put people before politics and reopen the government.”

“If we cannot work together through the regular order to keep the government funded and functioning then we should put our salaries to good use supporting causes that help people and nurture the communities who need it most,” said Rep. Hanabusa. “I intend to donate the salary I earn during the period that the government is shut down to charity.”

Background: Both members also did not take pay during the 2013 government shutdown. In 2013, Gabbard returned her salary to the U.S. Treasury and Hanabusa donated her salary to Meals on Wheels and the Moiliili Community Center.

Former President Clinton Visits Big Island

Former President Bill Clinton is currently enjoying time on the Big Island of Hawai‘i.

Sen.Kai Kahele, President Bill Clinton and Sen. Brickwood Galuteria. PC: Sen. Kahele.

Clinton was the 42nd president to serve our country, serving from 1993 to 2001. 

Hawai‘i State Sens. Kai Kahele and Brickwood Galuteira got to meet with him on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, for about 45 minutes.

“We talked about Hawai‘i and how much it has to offer the world and how America could use a little bit of aloha right now,” said Sen. Kahele.

Besides talking with the former president, the Senators gave him a portrait of the famed Polynesian voyaging canoe Hōkūle‘a.

The former president will be on the Big Island until Monday, Jan. 15.

NO INCOMING BALLISTIC MISSILE: FALSE ALARM

VIDEO: Damon Tucker interviews Mayor Harry Kim.

UPDATE: Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, 11:13 a.m.

Maui County Emergency Management Agency Officer Herman Andaya told Big Island Now just before 11 a.m. today that the incident occurred during a shift change at the State of Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency in Honolulu.

It is the State of Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency that sounds these alerts, Andaya said.

There are three shift changes throughout day at HEMA, operating 24/7, he said.

“They have procedures in place,” Andaya said. “They go through a drill of what to do at every shift change.”

“It is our understanding that at the 8 a.m. shift change, someone ‘hit the wrong button’—erroneously sounding the alert,” he said.

“The false alarm is still under investigation by the State of Hawaii,” Andaya said. “Although it was a false alarm, we should take this opportunity to prepare ourselves for such emergencies. Our residents should remember that if this was an actual ballistic missile attack, the public is advised to get inside, stay inside and stay informed.”

The public should also be reminded that prior to an emergency, make a plan, create an emergency kit and stay informed (see “EMERGENCY KIT RECOMMENDATIONS” below).

A guidance summary of what to do in the event of an actual attack can be found online.

UPDATE: 10:43 a.m.

The following is a statement by Sen. J. Kalani English, Senate Majority Leader, on today’s false ballistic threat alarm:

“The events surrounding this morning’s false alarm regarding a “ballistic missile threat to Hawaiʻi” is both unfortunate and very unacceptable. The Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency (Civil Defense) and the United States Pacific Command Center have confirmed that there is no threat to our islands.

“I am outraged that a mistake of this magnitude occurred. The initial alert was sent out via Civil Defense at 8:15am HST and it took the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency over 38 minutes to clarify that the “alarm” was inadvertent and indeed a mistake. The panic and pandemonium that many in Hawaiʻi experienced was unwarranted and completely unnecessary.

“I will be working with my colleagues in the Legislature to investigate into this matter and to provide the proper oversight to ensure that our state emergency alert system is properly functioning. We need to ensure that this never happens again and I am committed to doing so.”

UPDATE: 9:28 a.m.

Gov. David Ige is meeting this morning with top officials of the State Department of Defense and the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency to determine what caused this morning’s false alarm and to prevent it from happening again.

“While I am thankful this morning’s alert was a false alarm, the public must have confidence in our emergency alert system. I am working to get to the bottom of this so we can prevent an error of this type in the future,” said Gov. Ige.

House of Representatives Speaker Scott K. Saiki released the following statement after the false missile alarm:

“This system we have been told to rely upon failed and failed miserably today. I am deeply troubled by this misstep that could have had dire consequences. Measures must be taken to avoid further incidents that caused wholesale alarm and chaos today.

“Clearly, government agencies are not prepared and lack the capacity to deal with emergency situations. Apparently, the wrong button was pushed and it took over 30 minutes for a correction to be announced. Parents and children panicked during those 30 minutes.

“The Hawai‘i House of Representatives will immediately investigate what happened and there be consequences. This cannot happen again.”

News sources have simply reported that “the wrong button was pushed.”

ORIGINAL POST: Saturday, Jan. 13, 8:10 a.m.

The alert sent out at 8:07 a.m. is an official false alarm, according to Hawai‘i County Civil Defense.

According to a police officer interviewed by Big Island Now Reporter Damon Tucker in front of Hawai‘i County Civil Defense headquarters, the alarm was sent in error. It was supposed to be a scheduled test.

At 8:36 a.m., the COUNTY OF HAWAI‘I Civil Defense issued this information: “Please disregard message of nuclear attack. There is NO THREAT of Missile Launch at this time.”

The alert said, “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawai‘i. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”

A disaster alert was sent out at 8:07 a.m. About 30 minutes later, officials released information about the false alarm.

In the meantime, there was no additional information available on radio or TV, and none was provided to the media by official outlets.

No warning sirens were sounded throughout the state.

It has been reported that an incoming missile from North Korea could reach Hawai‘i in 15 to 20 minutes. The state has no nuclear shelters.
As tensions between the US and North Korea continue to escalate, Hawai‘i has resumed the monthly tests at 11:45 a.m. on the first business day of every month to inform its residents of an impending nuclear attack.
The Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency said that the monthly tests are intended to update the population on what the agency is doing to “prepare our state for a nuclear threat.”

However, authorities say the possibility of a North Korean nuclear strike is unlikely.

In response to BigIslandNow.com’s disaster alert post, Facebook post and video post, Big Islanders expressed their concerns along with gratitude for the information—especially the false alarm notice:
The frightening part… we believed it, because our leadership has been so incredibly poor.
The concern here is that citizens will now be conditioned to respond ineffectively in the event of a true emergency. Major fail.
Sounds like some emergency official types need to be sent packing.
If Trump pushes the big red button on this mishap, there’s no turning back. We want PEACE.
No the statement they MEANT to issue was, “We cannot apologize enough for the costly mistake of issuing a false nuclear missile alarm to the citizens of Hawaii. We are looking into this matter and will ensure it will not repeat in the future.” You don’t just tell people to DISREGARD after all that mayhem. An apology is due IMMEDIATELY!
I called my sis right away crying scared. I still cannot breathe have a knot on my entire body. This is totally unacceptable. They need to take this seriously.
I hope they will track ER visits for cardiac events this week. Spoken from a 9/11 mental health provider, cortisol levels for the entire state just sky-rocketed. There will certainly be medical fallout that should be documented.
I am extremely surprised how sporadic coverage was on the local radio and tv during the alert! In such circumstances, black out all programmed shows and set alert message(s) on repeat or switch to local news reporter!
Sounds like a scare tactic. Someone’s head should roll.
Wow that’s a big mistake!
Appreciate you reporting the news as I couldn’t find it anywhere and no other messages came over our phone.
Radio stations need a live body to make intercede recorded programming.
 It shows how many people are not prepared.
Someone needs to be fired!
FALSE ALARM=HEART ATTACK
Prayers.
Thank God!

If this was an actual warning, not a false alarm, Hawai‘i residents and visitors should immediately seek shelter. Again, the state has no nuclear fallout shelters.

EMERGENCY KIT RECOMMENDATIONS

  • 14 days of food, water and medications:
  • One gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation.
  • Nonperishable food.
  • Manual can opener.
  • Battery-powered or solar-powered radio with extra batteries.
  • Important documents in a sealed plastic bag:
  • Identification.
  • Debit and credit card information.
  • Banking information.
  • All insurance information.
  • Healthcare directives.
  • Copy of property title/deeds.
  • Copy of prescriptions and dosages.
  • Phone list of family and important numbers.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Plastic bag and ties for personal sanitation.
  • Matches, blankets and tarps.
  • First-aid kit.
  • Whistle to signal for help.
  • Personal hygiene items:
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Soap and shampoo.
  • Antibacterial hand wipes.
  • Toilet paper.
  • Deodorant.
  • Eyecare (if needed).
  • Moisturizing lotion.
  • Extra cash in small bills.

Contact your emergency management/county civil defense agency to report siren operation issues:

Hawai‘i County: (808) 935-0031
Maui County: (808) 270-7285
City and County of Honolulu: (808) 723-8960
Kaua‘i County: (808) 241-1800

RELATED LINK
Hawai‘i Completes First Attack Warning Test Since Cold War