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Hawaii State Environmental Council Updating EIS Rules

The State Environmental Council has released a preliminary draft of revisions to the state environmental impact statement (EIS) administrative rules. The rules were last updated in 1996, although an exemption for acquiring land for affordable housing was added in 2007.

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“This is a major milestone for us. The Environmental Council initiated the process of revising the rules in 2012, but the volunteer board lacked the support and resources necessary to complete the effort at that time. Thanks to the diligent work of numerous volunteers, as well as Governor Ige’s administration, this preliminary draft will provide a useful starting point for us as a council to engage agencies and the public. I’m really proud of the effort my colleagues put into making this first draft, and I’m looking forward to getting the public’s feedback and proceeding to the next step,” said Joseph Shacat, Council Chair.

The Environmental Council is responsible for making rules for preparing EISs under chapter 343, Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes (HRS). The EIS process is described in detail in Hawaiʻi Administrative Rules (HAR) Chapter 11-200. The current rules are available on the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC) website (http://health.hawaii.gov/oeqc) and the draft language can be downloaded directly from: http://oeqc2.doh.hawaii.gov/Laws/2017-07-27-Report-Prelim-Rules-Revisions-Draft.pdf.

The preliminary draft helps to clarify:

  • roles and responsibilities at various stages of the EIS process;
  • submittals and deadlines using electronic communication;
  • when an exemption is appropriate and the role of exemption lists;
  • how to proceed to directly preparing an EIS;
  • how to do programmatic EISs and supplemental EISs;
  • how to respond to comments; and
  • how to do combined federal and state EISs, among other things.

“This is the start of a conversation. We are focused on modernizing these 20-year-old rules and making them clearer so people who participate in the EIS process have a better sense of their roles and responsibilities,” said Scott Glenn, Director of the OEQC and Vice Chair of the Council.

Following the release of this preliminary draft, the Council will continue to refine the language before conducting formal public hearings pursuant to chapter 91, HRS. In the meantime, the public has the opportunity to offer comments to the Council at its publicly noticed meetings. The Council normally holds its meetings on the second Tuesday of every month.

The Environmental Council has several critical functions that affect the environment and development across Hawaiʻi. The Council is a liaison between the Director of the OEQC and the general public. The OEQC’s Director Scott Glenn regularly advises Gov. Ige on environmental matters. The Council also monitors the progress of the state in meeting its environmental goals through the publication of its annual report on the state of Hawaiʻi’s environment. It creates the administrative rules for Hawaiʻi’s EIS process and vets state and county agency lists for actions that can be considered exempt from having to prepare EISs or environmental assessments.

Additional information about the Environmental Council is available at http://health.hawaii.gov/oeqc/environmental-council/.

Officer Jared Cabatu Named East Hawaii Officer of the Month

Officer Jared Cabatu (a 9-year police veteran) has been named as the East Hawaiʻi Aloha Exchange Club’s Officer of the Month for (July).

Jared Cabatu

On (May 23), a Hilo resident reported that a theft had occurred at their home. Neighborhood checks produced a witness who gave a description of the men involved as well as a description of their vehicle. An All Points Bulletin was initiated.

On (May 30), Officer Jared Cabatu was on patrol and observed a vehicle matching the description given by the witness as well as that of the driver.

Officer Cabatu, via police records, identified the driver and made contact with him convincing him to voluntarily come to the station for questioning, where he was subsequently arrested. Cabatu was able to identify the second suspect who was arrested as well.

This type of attention to detail, diligence and persistence is a trait that Officer Cabatu always exhibits. He is very passionate about apprehending suspects and this passion has led to many arrests and case closures.

Community Clean-Up at Old Airport Park in Kona – No Camping Allowed

The County of Hawai’i will enforce a no-camping policy at the Old Airport Park in Kona from Wednesday, August 2, 2017, and all belongings and housing structures in the park must be removed by that date.  This is aimed at improving this facility as a community park.

Homeless people camping at the park are being instructed to leave, and a limited number of spaces at homeless shelters are available to receive them.

In the meantime, outreach workers from HOPE Services, Veterans Outreach, the West Hawai’i Health Clinic, Access Capabilities, County Parks and Recreation, Office of Housing and Community Development, the Mayor’s Office (Kona), and faith-based volunteers, have been reaching out to the people living in the park.

HOPE Services is coordinating existing housing inventory, and available housing options are being offered to the most vulnerable homeless people first, i.e., families, the elderly, chronically homeless, as well as those with substance abuse or mental health issues.

“HOPE Services is doing their very best to house those who qualify in the short time we have before August 2,” said Assistant Housing Administrator Lance Niimi, who asked that the public notify his office if other housing options may be made immediately available for the homeless. “Every bed space helps.”

“This is a comprehensive effort involving the community, State and County government, service organizations, businesses and volunteers, to make this a better place,” Niimi said.

The Mayor’s Office is currently in negotiations for a possible alternative site for the homeless in the vicinity, which could become available by the end of the year.

The Police Department will be monitoring to ensure that campers do not return to the park. The enforcement takes place as the Department of Parks and Recreation gears up for clean-up efforts on Wednesday, August 9 and Thursday, August 10, 2017.


Inadequate Housing in Hawaii Plays a Large Role in Unnecessary Hospitalizations

Homelessness and inadequate housing are major causes of unnecessary hospitalizations, according to a study by University of Hawai‘i researchers.

The finding is from an ongoing project to understand and reduce potentially preventable hospitalizations for diabetes and heart disease in Hawaiʻi under Principal Investigator Tetine Sentell, an associate professor in the UH Office of Public Health Studies. Said Sentell, “We were interested in patient perspectives on the role of housing as contributing to their potentially preventable hospitalization.”

Tetine Sentell and Michelle Quensell

Reported lead author of the study, Michelle Quensell, a UH public health graduate, “We talked to 90 patients, and almost 25% reported a housing-related issue as a major factor in hospitalization. About half of these patients were homeless, noting the high cost of housing in Hawai‘i.”

Added Sentell, “Patients said it was hard to care for their diabetes or heart disease when they were living without amenities such as refrigeration, running water, a stove or a safe place to store medications. Patients also mentioned the challenges of following diet plans when canned goods were the only available foods at the shelters and food banks.”

Several major health providers in Hawaiʻi have recently created innovative new programs to address social determinants, including housing, within the health-care setting to improve health-care quality and reduce health-care costs. This research strongly supports these efforts.

Quensell is a 2015 graduate of the Health Policy and Management programs within Public Health. Other investigators included Kathryn Braun from Public Health; Deborah Taira at the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, University of Hawai’i at Hilo; and Todd Seto at the Queen’s Medical Center.

For more information, visit: http://manoa.hawaii.edu/publichealth/

14th Annual “Cop on Top” Fundraiser at Walmart Stores

Once again, the Hawai‘i Police Department is proud to sponsor the 14th annual “Cop on Top” fundraiser for Special Olympics Hawai‘i. This event will be held in East and West Hawai‘i at the Hilo and Kona Walmart Stores on (August 17), 7:00 a.m., to (August 19), 3:00 p.m.

For three straight days, law enforcement officers will spend their off-duty time perched on top a 14-foot scaffolding, eating, sleeping and raising awareness for Special Olympics Hawai‘i within the community. Over the years, the efforts of Hawai‘i Police Department officers have raised $250,000 to help provide year round sports training and competitions to children and adults with intellectual disabilities. This event is the largest Special Olympics fundraiser of the year, and 14% of last year’s annual budget w as raised through this one event alone.

During this year’s event, there will be numerous, great incentives through donations made by many local sponsors. Special Olympics Hawai‘i will also be giving away visors, caps and t-shirts to those who donate.

Hawaii’s Visitor Statistics Results for First Half of 2017

George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), issued the following statement commenting on Hawaii’s visitor statistics results for the first six months of 2017.

“Our State’s economy benefited from the consistently strong travel demand that Hawaii realized in the first half of the year, especially from the mainland U.S., Japan and Canada. Visitor spending statewide grew by 8.7 percent through the first six months, which strengthened Hawaii’s economy as a whole and also generated $976 million in State tax revenue, an increase of $78.3 million.

“These statewide results and Hawaii’s ability to successfully compete with other global destinations is shared by all of our tourism stakeholders and industry professionals who make being in the Hawaiian Islands such a wonderfully enjoyable experience for visitors from around the world.

“As global competition expands and diversifies giving travelers more options, the sharing of the Hawaiian culture, the warmth of our aloha spirit lifestyle and goodwill of our residents distinguishes Hawaii as a place to come enjoy and experience, in many cases, again and again. Mahalo to everyone who contributes to tourism’s vitality and the benefits it brings to communities and families statewide.”