West Hawaii Forum – Hawaii County’s General Plan and Future Impacts

Join the discussion at this month’s West Hawaii Forum: Hawai’i County’s General Plan and Future Impacts on March 10th from 6 – 8 pm at the West Hawaii Civic Center – County Council Chambers.   Doors will open at 5:30 pm. This program is free and open to the public.

West Hawaii Civic Center

Hawai’i County’s General Plan, approved in 2005 by the County Council represents the County government’s overall plans and policy direction for Hawai’i Island.  Under the General Plan, the County engages in a process of revising and adopting a Community Development Plan (CDP), most recently in 2015 that will affect communities throughout our island home.

Hawai’i County’s CDP provides a strategy for our local government’s budgetary and planning priorities. This forum will feature experts from both inside and outside County government who will assess Hawai’i County’s General Plan and development plans and impacts for 2016 forward.

Hear the experts, ask questions, and get involved:

  • Duane Kanuha – Hawai’I County, Planning Director
  • Mike Matsukawa – Hawai’i Real Estate and Land Use Attorney
  • Bo Kahui – Executive Director, La’i’Opua 2020

Hirono, Kim and Kenoi Announce Expanded Social Security Services at West Hawaii Civic Center

After working for 16 months to increase Social Security Administration (SSA) service for West Hawaii residents, Senator Mazie K. Hirono joined SSA Regional Commissioner Grace Kim and Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi to announce expanded Social Security services for residents at the West Hawaii Civic Center.

West Hawaii Civic Center

West Hawaii Civic Center

In November, the Social Security Administration announced it would end monthly Kona office hours due to budget constraints, forcing West Hawaii kupuna to make a four-hour roundtrip drive to meet with representatives.

Beginning August 22, residents will be able to go the West Hawaii Civic Center on the second and fourth Thursday of each month from 9am to 1pm to meet with SSA representatives using the new video conferencing system.

“This announcement is great news for Hawaii Island kupuna and shows that when we work together, we can make meaningful differences in people’s lives,” Hirono said. “This video conferencing service will greatly ease the ability of our kupuna to receive the Social Security services they have earned. I greatly appreciate the efforts of the Social Security Administration, Mayor Kenoi, as well as AARP Hawaii, the Hawaii Executive Office on Aging’s Sage PLUS program, and Hawaiian Telcom for getting this done.”

Hirono led the effort to coordinate with Hawaii County and a number of volunteer groups, including the Hawaii Island state librarians, AARP Hawaii, Sage PLUS, RSVP, and Medicare Patrol – to make the video conferencing service a reality for West Hawaii residents. At the urging of West Hawaii constituents and AARP Hawaii, Hirono initially contacted the SSA in April 2012 to address reports of crowding and long lines at the SSA monthly contact stations and to urge the agency to expand its monthly face-to-face Kona visits by Hilo SSA staff.

After the SSA announced it would end these monthly visits, Hirono continued to push for video conferencing services that wouldn’t require Hilo SSA staff to travel to Kona and worked closely with community leaders to execute a formal agreement and coordinate the location, service dates, and technical installation.

At today’s event, Hirono joined SSA Regional Commissioner Barbara Kim Stanton and Mayor Kenoi to thank the volunteer groups and Hawaiian Telcom for their partnership in bringing this valuable service to the West Hawaii community.

“Mahalo to all the partners for working together to help our West Hawai’i seniors access the Social Security services they depend upon. We’re happy to welcome this valuable community service to the West Hawai’i Civic Center,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi.

“Assistance made available via this video conferencing arrangement will be an economic lifeline for West Hawaii residents,” said AARP Hawaii State Director Barbara Kim Stanton. “Nearly a third of older Hawaii residents rely on Social Security for 50 percent or more of their family income. Our low- and middle-income seniors are even more reliant on Social Security’s earned benefit, typically receiving nearly three-quarters of their income from this vital program.

“AARP Hawaii is enormously grateful for the leadership and commitment of our community partners – the Social Security Administration, Mayor Billy Kenoi, and especially Senator Mazie Hirono, for responding to and working with AARP volunteers to make this service a reality,” Stanton added.

While Pamela Cunningham of the Hawaii Executive Office on Aging said, “The Executive Office on Aging’s Sage PLUS Program is inspired by the community volunteers and agencies of West Hawaii that have committed to this program to help their neighbors.”

“We’re proud to be helping as the technology partner on this innovative solution enabling West Hawaii residents to communicate ‘face-to-face’ with the Social Security Administration,” said Paul Krueger, Hawaiian Telcom’s Vice President – Sales & Product Marketing.

West Hawai‘i Civic Center Approaches Zero Waste

Hawaii County’s path to Zero Waste just got a little shorter.

A recent recycling audit of the West Hawai`i Civic Center (WHCC), home to offices for 11 County agencies, found it to be almost completely a Zero Waste facility.

The audit, conducted in October, established that 98 percent of the waste generated at the facility by County employees is being recycled or reused instead of being thrown into our landfills. The diversion rate for the entire facility, including public-generated waste, is 90 percent.

Zero Waste is a way of life, demonstrated by the ancient Hawaiians, that promotes the goal of reducing the amount of material we throw away.  Instead, it reincorporates materials of one system for use for another system. In this way, we greatly reduce our impact on Hawai’i Island’s natural environment and how much rubbish we generate, protect Hawai’i Island’s natural environment, preserve our resources for future generations, and save our community tax dollars.

“This is a tremendous achievement for the County and for our island.  Only with the support of all of the staff at the Civic Center , we successfully demonstrated that zero waste is possible,” said Angela Kang, West Hawaii Recycling Specialist for the County who conducted the audit of waste generated at the Civic Center.

When opened in January 2011, the WHCC implemented its Zero Waste Program, diverting nearly all of its solid waste from the landfill with its “Blue Bin” mixed recycling bins to divert paper, plastics and metals. Employees also use on-site composting bins to divert food scraps and green waste. HI-5 and office equipment collections take care of e-waste, batteries, ink/toner cartridges and other recyclable materials.

Kang has worked closely with County workers on new and different ways to reduce, recycle and reuse the rubbish they produce and was pleased with how excited and committed they were to making the program a success.

“The County of Hawai`i , Zero Waste Program gives us the opportunity to take the lead in eliminating much of our daily trash. By separating items to be recycled, we can take the lead by protecting our fragile environment on the Island of Hawaii and the State,” said Len Losalio, Liquor Investigator with the Department of Liquor Control with the West Hawai`i Enforcement Division.

The 80,000-square foot Civic Center is located on seven acres in the Villages of La`i`opua in Kealakehe.  As a part of the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) certification currently under review by the US Green Building Council, buildings are designed to control temperature and lighting with systems to reduce heat gain and energy consumption throughout the complex. A highlight of the LEED certification is the 250 kW photovoltaic system atop the center’s parking.  This system is the first phase of the goal to achieve Net Zero Energy and Zero Carbon Emissions.  This photovoltaic system, first of its kind for government facilities in the State of Hawai ‘i provides 100% solar energy by harnessing the power of the sun, saving the County $46,000 dollars a year in electricity cost.  Other features include water-efficient landscaping, use of recycled and certified wood products, a construction waste management plan to divert waste away from landfills, bicycle parking and electric vehicle charging stations for future use.

The Hawai`i County Council adopted the principles of Zero Waste as a long-term goal in December 2008.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi has committed the County to making the WHCC Zero Waste program a model for expansion to County facilities island-wide.For more information on this program or any County recycling programs and services, please visit the County’s Solid Waste Division website at www.hawaiizerowaste.org.

West Hawai’i Civic Center Dedication and Open House

From the Mayors Office:

The official dedication of the West Hawai’i Civic Center will take place Thursday, April 14 at the new facility located at 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Highway, on the corner of Ane Keohokalole Highway and Kealakehe Parkway.

West Hawaii Civic Center (Click for larger image)

The dedication begins at 4 p.m. with a short ceremony at the gazebo in the middle of the civic center. An open house will follow. Donated refreshments will be served during the blessing and open house, which will conclude at 6 p.m.

Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi will be on hand to honor former and current county officials who made the facility a reality.

For more information, call the mayor’s office in West Hawai’i at 323-4444.

County Services Moved to West Hawaii Civic Center

Media Release:

Hawaii County government services in West Hawai’i will be centralized during the next two months as various departments and offices move into the newly completed West Hawai’i Civic Center.

However, the public will experience slight delays and interruptions in services as moves are made into the new building. The County of Hawai’i suggests those who have business with a department or office do so before or after the scheduled moving dates.

Here is the moving schedule of key county offices:

  • Driver’s Licensing and Motor Vehicle Registration offices will be closed on Jan. 25-26 and will reopen in Building C on Jan. 27
  • Research and Development will be closed on Jan. 25-26 and will reopen in Building C on Jan. 27
  • The Mayor’s Office will be closed on Jan. 25-26 and will reopen in Building C on Jan. 27
  • The Office of Aging will close on Jan. 25-26 and reopen in Building B on Jan. 27
  • Mass Transit and Human Resources, which previously did not have Kona offices, will be open in Building C on Jan. 27
  • Parks and Recreation and the Elderly Activities Division will open at Building B on Feb. 3. The permit window at the old Kona Airport will stay open 7:45 a.m. to noon, and then from 1-4:14 p.m. until April 1 when it moves to the Civic Center.
  • The Department of Liquor Control will be closed Feb. 1-2 and reopen Feb. 3 in Building B (Liquor Control is open only by appointment at 961-8218)
  • The Office of Housing and Community Development will be closed Feb. 1-2 and reopen in Building B on Feb. 3
  • The Office of Elections will be closed Feb. 1-2 and reopen in Building B on Feb. 3
  • County Council offices in West Hawai’i will be closed Feb. 7 and reopen in Building A on Feb. 10
  • The Fire Inspector’s office will close Feb. 14-15 and reopen in Building E on Feb. 16
  • The Building Division of Public Works will close Feb. 14-15 and reopen in Building E on Feb. 16
  • Planning will close Feb. 14-15 and reopen in Building E on Feb. 16
  • The Engineering Division of Public Works will close Feb. 22-23 and reopen in Building D on Feb. 24
  • Environmental Management will close Feb. 22-23 and reopen in Building E on Feb. 24
  • Because property taxes are due Feb. 22, the Real Property Tax Office will close Feb. 23-24 and reopen in Building D on Feb. 25

Kona ‘Charrette’ Applies Community Development Goals


From the Mayors Office:

Honokohau Village, a 40-acre site that includes the new West Hawai`i Civic Center now under construction, is currently the focus of a new planning process in Kona.

The Village is the first major project to be planned under the award-winning Kona Community Development Plan, enacted into law in September of 2008. During a multi-day public “charrette,” residents and community leaders, developers and builders, County officials and staff will get to see how new guidelines apply to a real project in a real place.

“This is a whole new way of planning,” says Margaret K. Masunaga, deputy director, County of Hawai`i Planning Department. “That’s what makes this so exciting. We’ll use this experience to learn from and to teach one another,” says Masunaga, who lives in Captain Cook, South Kona, on a Kona coffee farm.

“By the time we’re finished, we’ll all know exactly what it means when we say ‘TOD’ and what the term implies for development in Kona,” says Masunaga.

TOD stands for Transit-Oriented Development, a neighborhood development approach encouraged under the new Kona CDP. The transit orientation comes into play when development can be designed to make the most of not only personal automobile travel, but also biking, walking, and transit. A TOD maximizes the advantages of mobility choices so that people representing a wide range of ages, abilities, and incomes can share the advantages of living, working, and playing in a compact, walkable community.

The Kona CDP provides much more than guidance for TODs. It sets goals for putting Kona-appropriate development in the right places, in the right scale for those places, and in the right relationships to surroundings. The upcoming Kona charrette will customize Village Design Guidelines described in general in the Kona CDP specifically for the 40-acre, transit-oriented site around the West Hawai`i Civic Center.

“So we’re not just talking about planning for transit, walking, biking, and cars,” says Masunuga. “We’ll also use the charrette to set standards for Honokohau Village that will include building setbacks and heights, the width of streets and sidewalks, the mix of building types, allowable density ranges, and the placement of public parks and other open space. The result will be a village design that encourages a true neighborhood atmosphere.”

Conventional planning approaches often complicate community-building goals. “In the not so distant past,” says Masunaga, “we planned subdivisions that were disconnected from one another and where people without access to automobiles were isolated. The disconnections affected all sorts of other things, including infrastructure investment, environmental protection, and public services like police and fire fighting. “

“One of my dreams,” Masunaga says, “is that my seven-year-old daughter will be able to safely walk just about anywhere she needs to go for her daily needs. That’s not possible in most places in Kona now.

“Mahalo nui loa to everyone who made the Kona CDP a reality. Now we can implement the policies to guide the Planning Department and the Planning Director on how we want Kona to look like in the next 20 years and into the next generation.”