Star Advertiser: Hawaii County Fire Department warns of phone scam soliciting donations

(Source: Star Advertiser)

October 19, 2018

The Hawaii County Fire Department sent out a public alert today warning of a telephone scam soliciting donations.

The Fire Department does not engage in the solicitation of monetary donations,” said Fire Chief Darren Rosario said in a news release. “Any member of the public receiving such calls should disregard the solicitation, and report it the police.”

To report suspected telephone scams, call the Hawaii Police Department’s non-emergency number at 935-3311.

Via: Star Advertiser


CNN: Not exercising worse for your health than smoking, diabetes and heart disease, study reveals

(Source: CNN)

October 19, 2018

By: Wayne Drash

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN)We’ve all heard exercise helps you live longer. But a new study goes one step further, finding that a sedentary lifestyle is worse for your health than smoking, diabetes and heart disease.

Dr. Wael Jaber, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic and senior author of the study, called the results “extremely surprising.”
“Being unfit on a treadmill or in an exercise stress test has a worse prognosis, as far as death, than being hypertensive, being diabetic or being a current smoker,” Jaber told CNN. “We’ve never seen something as pronounced as this and as objective as this.”
Jaber said researchers must now convey the risks to the general population that “being unfit should be considered as strong of a risk factor as hypertension, diabetes and smoking — if not stronger than all of them.”
“It should be treated almost as a disease that has a prescription, which is called exercise,” he said.
Researchers retrospectively studied 122,007 patients who underwent exercise treadmill testing at Cleveland Clinic between January 1, 1991 and December 31, 2014 to measure all-cause mortality relating to the benefits of exercise and fitness. Those with the lowest exercise rate accounted for 12% of the participants.
The study was published Friday in the journal JAMA Network Open.
“Cardiovascular disease and diabetes are the most expensive diseases in the United States. We spend more than $200 billion per year treating these diseases and their complications. Rather than pay huge sums for disease treatment, we should be encouraging our patients and communities to be active and exercise daily,” said Dr. Jordan Metzl, sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery and author of the book “The Exercise Cure.”
Jaber said the other big revelation from the research is that fitness leads to longer life, with no limit to the benefit of aerobic exercise. Researchers have always been concerned that “ultra” exercisers might be at a higher risk of death, but the study found that not to be the case.
“There is no level of exercise or fitness that exposes you to risk,” he said. “We can see from the study that the ultra-fit still have lower mortality.”
“In this study, the most fit individuals did the best,” said Metzl, who was not involved in the study. “Once cleared by their physicians, patients shouldn’t be afraid of exercise intensity.”
The benefits of exercise were seen across all ages and in both men and women, “probably a little more pronounced in females,” Jaber said. “Whether you’re in your 40s or your 80s, you will benefit in the same way.”
The risks, he said, became more shocking when comparing those who don’t exercise much. “We all know that a sedentary lifestyle or being unfit has some risk. But I’m surprised they overwhelm even the risk factors as strong as smoking, diabetes or even end-stage disease.”
“People who do not perform very well on a treadmill test,” Jaber said, “have almost double the risk of people with kidney failure on dialysis.”


What made the study so unique, beyond the sheer number of people studied, he said was that researchers weren’t relying on patients self-reporting their exercise. “This is not the patients telling us what they do,” Jaber said. “This is us testing them and figuring out objectively the real measure of what they do.”
Comparing those with a sedentary lifestyle to the top exercise performers, he said, the risk associated with death is “500% higher.”
“If you compare the risk of sitting versus the highest performing on the exercise test, the risk is about three times higher than smoking,” Jaber explained.
Comparing somebody who doesn’t exercise much to somebody who exercises regularly, he said, still showed a risk 390% higher. “There actually is no ceiling for the benefit of exercise,” he said. “”There’s no age limit that doesn’t benefit from being physically fit.”
Dr. Satjit Bhusri, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, who was not involved in the study, said this reinforces what we know. “Sedentary, Western lifestyles have lead to a higher incidence in heart disease and this shows that it’s modifiable. It’s reversible,” he explained, adding that doctors are really good at treating patients who have had cardiovascular events but they can be prevented. “We’re meant to walk, run, exercise. It’s all about getting up and moving.”
For patients, especially those who live a sedentary lifestyle, Jabersaid, “You should demand a prescription from your doctor for exercise.”
So get moving.
Via: CNN

Hawaii News Now: Nuuanu Reservoir was not in danger of spilling, city officials say

(Via: Hawaii News Now)

September 14, 2018

By: Gordon Pang

Honolulu Board of Water Supply officials said Thursday afternoon that there was no danger of Nuuanu Reservoir No. 1 failing and said they notified the public about the possibility of evacuations downstream that morning in an abundance of caution to keep the community informed.

BWS Chief Engineer Ernest Y.W. Lau said water was being pumped from the dam — which is above Oahu Country Club on the Ewa side of Pali Highway — to keep the water level below the dam’s spillway and that the efforts were succeeding.

“This is not a dam breach situation right now. We’re not nowhere close to that,” Lau said Thursday afternoon. “We’re just trying to keep the levels lower than the spillway. Because once water goes over the spillway, then you’ll start to experience more flooding downstream because the water has to go someplace, and it will go makai downstream.”

At about 10 a.m. Thursday, BWS sent out a news release saying that the water was about 18 inches from the spillway and that BWS crews and the Honolulu Fire Department were pumping water to keep the level below the spillway after overnight heavy rain in the aftermath of former Tropical Storm Olivia. The release also said the board was working with city officials on an operations plan “which includes public evacuation notification and sheltering if needed. Approximately 10,000 residents would be affected.” It did not specify what areas would be affected or when.

More than an hour later, BWS and city officials said through social media that there was no immediate need for evacuations.

Lau said at an afternoon news conference that there was never any danger of dam failure or a need for evacuations, and BWS put out a news release after getting inquiries from the media and the community.

At the news conference, city officials distributed a map of the area that would have been affected if an evacuation was needed. The area included a major portion of lower Nuuanu, Chinatown, Aala Park and Iwilei, including Costco and Dole Cannery.

City Deputy Emergency Management Deputy Director Hiro­yuki Toiya said his agency was already being contacted by people who had heard “from the rumor mill” that evacuations were already taking place.

“So we wanted to get ahead of that and let people know that we are taking pre-emptive action before the action,” Toiya said. Variables such as the intensity and duration of the storm made it difficult to say when evacuations would have occurred, he said, but “we were still a good ways out from having to pull the trigger on evacuations.”

Lau said evacuations would have been mandatory if the water level got within 1 foot below the top of the dam. The spillway is about 3-1/2 feet lower than the top of the dam, he said.

Since the water reached about 1-1/2 feet from the spillway, that would have meant the water would have needed to rise an additional 5 feet.

In the 24 hours ending at 10 a.m., former Tropical Storm Olivia and its aftermath dumped more than 8 inches on upper Nuuanu, according to a National Weather Service gauge.

The earthen dam, built in 1905, is 33-1/2 feet high and 588 feet long. It has a capacity of 21 million gallons.

BWS had been siphoning the water from the reservoir for several weeks in anticipation of several earlier storms as well as Olivia, city officials said. But when water in the reservoir rose some 4 feet, and siphoning wasn’t removing enough quickly, BWS began using two of its pumps as well as two from the Hono­lulu Fire Department, they said.

“I just took a conservative, very cautionary approach,” Lau said. Pumping will be used more frequently after this experience, he said, “because we’re going to start trying to lower the water levels even more knowing that we could have an event like this where there are 8 inches of rain in a short period of time in that area.”

Lau said BWS staff is working with the city Department of Emergency Management, tasked with organizing evacuations, to refine its evacuation plans.

Toiya said should there have been a need for an evacuation, it would have occurred long before a spill occurred and that the goal would have been to complete the evacuation in under an hour.

Honolulu police, fire and emergency management personnel would have been dispatched to notify those who live in the immediate area, giving them enough time to evacuate, he said. The media also would have been asked to spread the word, he said.

Lau said the board also is using this episode as an opportunity to improve its communications with the public.

“I think there is an opportunity for greater communication with our communities downstream from these dams about the unlikely failure of a dam and what the evacuation requirements would be,” Lau said.

The reservoirs were first constructed as part of an irrigation scheme for agriculture in the area. Today they’re used primarily for flood control during storms to slow down water making its way to the ocean, Lau said, although there currently is research being done to study their potential for hydroelectric production.

The two Nuuanu dams are among the 130 largest private and public dams in Hawaii that are regulated by the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Each is inspected every two years, said Denise Manuel, an engineer with the DLNR Dam Safety Program.

Each of the dams is required to file an action plan, and Manuel’s agency has been monitoring them during the storms, she said. “I’ve been tracking them continuously statewide,” she said.

Manuel said BWS “did a good job” handling the situation at Nuu­anu Reservoir No. 1. “As Ernie said, there was never any risk of a dam failure; it was simply that it was getting to the spillway level.”

For more on the state dam safety program, go to To see whether an area is in a dam evacuation zone, go to

Source: Hawaii News Now


KHON2: Number of registered vehicles on Oahu climbs to over 900,000

(Source: KHON2)

October 12, 2018

By: Brigette Namata

HONOLULU (KHON2) – If you’re thinking “there’s so many cars on the roads,”  it’s because there are.

Numbers provided from the Motor Vehicle, Licensing and Permits Division show an upswing in the number of registered vehicles and trailers on Oahu:

Fiscal Year
1970 – 321,947 vehicles and trailers
1980 – 464,454
1990 – 569,493
2000 – 700,763
2010 – 829,284
2015 – 876,513
2018 – 906,237

Civil engineer Panos Prevedouros says, the rise in registered cars is a sign of a “vibrant economy.”

“For a second reason – we have quite a few people with busy lives with multiple jobs, as well as recreational opportunities. So there is a need to have vehicles in Honolulu,” said Prevedouros.

He says there are negative effects to a “strong economy” – more people with more cars means more congestion and lack of parking. He also adds “carpooling” has become less popular.

“People prefer the comfort to drive alone and use ride sharing services like Uber, Lyft, et cetera. But that also generates more traffic. It will only get worse as long as the economy stays healthy,” said Prevedouros.

Some question if the amount of cars contributed to the multiple pedestrian fatalities recorded on Oahu this year.

“It scares me. One weekend, seemed like there were 5 or 6 accidents that happened,” said Ala Moana resident Chuck Abbott.

But Prevedouros says that’s not the case.

“It really doesn’t. The correlation goes far more closely with the economy. When the economy is good, people travel more. when the economy is not so good, people curtail trips, or take the bus a little more,” said Prevedouros.

Via: KHON2

Science Daily: Applying auto industry’s fuel-efficiency standards to agriculture could net billions

(Source: Science Daily and New York University)

October 15, 2018

Adopting benchmarks similar to the fuel-efficiency standards used by the auto industry in the production of fertilizer could yield $5-8 billion in economic benefits for the U.S. corn sector alone, researchers have concluded in a new analysis.

The work, appearing in the journal Nature Sustainability and authored by New York University’s David Kanter and Princeton University’s Tim Searchinger, examines the potential impact of a policy to reduce nitrogen emissions in fertilizer — one modeled on the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards that are used to increase the fuel efficiency of vehicles in the U.S.

“A CAFE-style approach to reducing nitrogen pollution could provide powerful incentives for fertilizer manufacturers to learn where and how enhanced-efficiency fertilizers work best, and ultimately to develop more technically sophisticated nitrogen products tailored to specific crops, climates, and soil conditions,” they write.

Nitrogen pollution represents a significant environmental concern, scientists have concluded, and comes mainly from the inefficient use of fertilizer and manure on farms. Others have found policies to address this pollution source to be largely ineffective, largely because of the challenges in both changing farming practices and in monitoring and enforcement.

“Moreover, the farm lobby is an extremely powerful political force in many countries,” observe Kanter, a professor in NYU’s Department of Environmental Studies, and Searchinger, a research scholar at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. “Consequently, new policy options for addressing this environmental issue need to be explored.”

In their analysis, the researchers turned to U.S. fuel efficiency standards, which focus on the car industry instead of consumers, and evaluated whether the fertilizer industry could be a newfound regulatory focus of nitrogen policies.

Specifically, they evaluated the potential impact of a requirement to steadily increase the proportion of enhanced efficiency fertilizer sold with traditional fertilizer — with the implicit aim of incentivizing technology development in this industry. India implemented such requirements in 2015.

As with cars, the price of enhanced-efficiency fertilizers (EEF) could be more costly to growers; however, they could also potentially bolster profits because lower amounts are needed to grow crops — in the same way fuel-efficient cars require less gasoline. EEFs, already produced by several major fertilizer companies, have been shown to reduce nitrogen losses and improve yields — yet EEFs are currently used on only about 12 percent U.S. corn cropland.

In their analysis, the researchers adopted a case study — the U.S. corn industry, which devotes approximately 33 million hectares of American cropland to corn production and has the highest nitrogen application rate of any major crop in the U.S.

To estimate the impact of wider usage of EEFs, they examined, over a 10-year period and using different scenarios, how a CAFE-style standard mandating that EEFs compose higher percentages of nitrogen fertilizer sales — e.g., 20 percent of sales by 2020 and 30 percent by 2030 — would affect incomes from higher yields and increased fertilizer costs.

Their results showed that higher efficiency standards, depending on the standard set, could produce net economic benefits of $5-$8 billion per year by 2030. These benefits include both a combination of farmer and industry profits as well as environmental and human health gains from avoided nitrogen pollution, the researchers explain.

Specifically, farm profits are due to slight boosts in yield, which offset the increased cost of EEF use, while industry profits arise from increased sales of EEFs, which have a higher profit margin.

The researchers add that the impact of such standards for fertilizer could be felt more immediately than that for cars — CAFE requirements apply only to newly sold cars, which have an average fleet turnover of nearly 16 years, while fertilizer is bought annually, so improved products will have an instantaneous effect.

“A state could pioneer such an approach — possibly California, which has already adopted ambitious climate goals across all sectors,” Kanter and Searchinger propose. “Although the heterogeneity of agricultural, climatic, and political systems across the world requires a range of policy approaches to address the nitrogen pollution issue, industry-focused technology-forcing policies could be a promising option for reducing nitrogen losses, even as we push our planet to produce far more food.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by New York UniversityNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Via: Science Daily and New York University



Star Advertiser: Updated homelessness plan targets health services, public safety

(Source: Star Advertiser)

October 12, 2018

By: Gordon Pang

he city’s updated, 95-page action plan for tackling homelessness unveiled by Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Thursday calls for launching public safety initiatives and providing more health care services for the unsheltered.

“We are all facing, and we see it every day, increasing violence and aggressive behavior on the streets, abusive of public property, and we want to be able to address that with the proper disciplines,” city Community Services Director Pam Witty-Oakland said Thursday.

“These folks need help with health care and we need to take care of public safety,” she said.

“In the urban core, we have a very hardened element of homelessness, people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol,” Caldwell said, citing a man who was killed by Honolulu police officers Sunday after he lunged at them with a knife. “We want to get those people off the street, and into shelter and being taken care of. That is the more compassionate thing.”

According to the report, those new initiatives would be done primarily through partnerships with various agencies including the state Health and Human Services departments and the Honolulu Police Department.

It noted that HPD recently partnered with the private sector to establish a medical services center in Chinatown.

“Efforts to address the increasing aggressive and violent behavior among homeless persons require partnerships with law enforcement and health care entities,” the report said.

“The advocates for mentally ill homeless persons are reporting increased psychotic behaviors on the street and individuals who are extremely service resistant,” the report said. “Any success with housing the current population of individuals living with severe mental illness will require professional skills beyond the social services currently contracted by the City and enters into the scope of health care services.”

City Council members were asked to offer suggestions on how to improve services for the homeless in their districts. All responded and most provided suggestions in the report.

Caldwell signed into law Thursday the bills that make it illegal to obstruct city sidewalks and to “lodge” on public property.

Bill 51 makes it illegal between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. to “create, cause or maintain” an obstruction on a public sidewalk if it blocks pedestrians from passing freely. The measure applies to anyone who obstructs the sidewalk, including vendors who operate mobile kiosks. Violators could be fined up to $100.

Bill 52 makes it a petty misdemeanor “to lodge” on a sidewalk or other public places. It defines “to lodge” as “to occupy a place temporarily; to sleep; to come to rest and refuse to vacate” a public place. A police officer issuing a citation must first verify there is shelter space available within a reasonable distance and then offer to take the person being cited to the shelter. City officials said that doesn’t mean a shelter space needs to be in the same Council district.

Resolutions introduced

Honolulu City Council members, before passing the bills on Oct. 3, inserted language that states the city cannot begin enforcement of the new laws until they first approve via resolution an updated action plan to be submitted by Caldwell.

Caldwell said he has no issue with providing reports for the Council but questions why they needed to be linked to the two bills.

To help speed up the process, Caldwell said he is introducing nine resolutions — one for each Council district. “So those Council members who actually want action can request that the Council take up their district (resolution) and say ‘approved by resolution,’” he said. “And then we can take action so there’s not even further delay.”

Council members Ikaika Anderson and Joey Manahan, who both voted against the bills because of the reporting requirements, flanked Caldwell during the bill-signing and immediately signed the resolutions for each of their respective districts urging colleagues to give the go-ahead for enforcement to begin in their districts.

“In my estimation, that language made the bills both limp and ineffective,” Anderson said.

The original bills, initiated by Caldwell, are the first designed to clear sidewalks across the island. The administration previously rejected proposals to impose the so-called sit-lie ban islandwide due to constitutional issues.

City Corporation Counsel Donna Leong said these two new laws will be able to withstand legal challenges, although the American Civil Liberties Union Hawaii chapter and other homeless advocates warned they conflict with recent federal appellate court rulings.

Caldwell and supporters say the new laws are designed to keep sidewalks clear for pedestrians, but opponents argue that their main goal is to punish the homeless for not having a roof over their heads.

The ACLU of Hawaii has repeatedly warned that the bills are unconstitutional, suggesting that they may mount a legal challenge to block them from being enforced.

Josh Wisch, ACLU of Hawaii’s executive director, said the city could reach out and offer services to the homeless now. “What they want to do is do it under threat (of punishment),” he said.

Wisch said he also sees an attempt by city officials to use the homeless as scapegoats for crimes in the community. “They’re using that as an excuse to try to turn those in the unsheltered community into boogie men, to scare people into thinking they all violate the law. That’s just not true. Most of these folks are just living peaceably just trying to get by.”

Both bills were approved by the Honolulu City Council 6-3 on Oct. 3, with Anderson, Manahan and Brandon Elefante voting “no.”

Via: Star Advertiser

Star Advertiser: Solar permits issued on Oahu fell 31%

(Source: Star Advertiser)

October 10, 2018

Solar permits issued on Oahu plunged 31 percent in September to leave the nine-month total even with the year-earlier period.

There were 175 permits issued by the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting for solar electrical systems last month compared with 252 in the year-earlier period, according to Marco Mangelsdorf, who tracks rooftop solar permits and is president of Hilo-­based Pro­Vision Solar. The 1,963 PV permits on Oahu issued through the first three quarters of this year matched the number issued during the same time frame a year ago.

The total stated value of those projects was almost $170 million compared to $75 million in the year before. Three of this year’s permits were for utility-scale PV systems pulled by Moss and Associates and accounted for about $86 million.

On the energy storage front, 60 percent of PV permits included batteries.

On Kauai, 232 PV permits were issued through the first nine months of this year, representing a 57 percent decline from the 534 issued a year ago.

“Across the islands, the PV solarcoaster has chugged along at differing speeds so far this year with a 25 percent increase in permits on Hawaii island, no change on Oahu and down 18 percent for Maui County (as well as down 57 percent on Kauai),” Mangelsdorf said.

Via: Star Advertiser

Star Advertiser: New and improved ZipMobile set to launch on Zipper Lane duties next month

(Source: Star Advertiser)

October 11, 2018

By: Dan Nakaso

Gov. David Ige got behind the wheel of a brand new bright- yellow $1.95 million ZipMobile on Wednesday and immediately said he wanted to drive it.

But the custom-made ZipMobile, which arrived Sept. 29 from Rio Vista, Calif., won’t be put into action until sometime in November, after undergoing nighttime testing.

Although it carries the logo “Road Zipper” for now, the new cleaner-burning diesel machine will take over as the state Department of Transportation’s primary “ZipMobile” when it begins opening and closing the H-1 Freeway’s 11.3-mile Zipper Lane next month.

One of the DOT’s original 20-year-old ZipMobiles will be decommissioned and harvested for replacement parts for its twin ZipMobile, which will continue as the backup.

The new ZipMobile, manufactured by California-based Lindsay Transportation Solutions, will have its own backup parts stored on Oahu.

It carries a one-year warranty on all parts and Lindsay technicians are on Oahu during the break-in period and will be available as needed, DOT officials said.

DOT officials are hoping to avoid a repeat of the two-day islandwide “carmaggedon” ordeal that occurred in 2015 when the primary ZipMobile broke down in the middle of the H-1 Freeway, leaving two westbound traffic lanes closed until a mainland technician flew in and got it running again.

Back in 2015, the software that operated the two ZipMobiles was proprietary, said DOT spokesman Tim Sakahara.

“We weren’t going to make that mistake again,” Sakahara said Wednesday as Ige toured the new machine. “We don’t have to wait for that person to fly in anymore.”

“Zip U There” mechanics, who maintain the ZipMobiles, have been trained about the latest technology and software for the new machine at the factory. And technicians in California can also troubleshoot software problems occurring on Oahu in real time, Sakahara said.

If the new ZipMobile should malfunction in mid-zip, Sakahara said it’s designed to be towed while finishing zipping — or unzipping — the zipper lanes.

The new ZipMobile is outfitted with what Ige called a “state-of-the-art” diesel engine that is more environmentally friendly than that of its 20-year-old cousins.

The new machine produces 96 percent fewer pollutants, such as nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions, DOT officials said.

“It’s cleaner and better for the environment,” Ige said.

State Department of Health officials worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to obtain a grant under the federal Diesel Emissions Reduction Act that will reduce the cost of the new ZipMobile by $390,000 — down to $1,563,000.

The new ZipMobile is also 6 feet wider, which means it can push the zipper barriers tighter to the median and leave a safety shoulder for drivers that’s 6 feet wide in some spots of the H-1, Ige said.

The Zipper Lane opened in 1998 along the state’s busiest traffic corridor and begins at Managers Drive Overpass near Waikele and feeds into the Nimitz Highway express lane.

The Zipper Lane expanded to two lanes in 2016.


>> $1.954 million: Original cost. With an EPA grant of $390,000 the cost will fall to $1.563 million.

>> 15: Speed in miles per hour that the ZipMobile can travel, but it goes much slower while opening and closing the Zipper Lane.

>> 11.3: Miles of Zipper Lane, which runs from Managers Drive Overpass near Waikele and into the Nimitz Highway express lane.

>> Four: Minimum number of people required to perform daily Zipper Lane operations, including one person in the front driver’s seat and another in the rear driver’s seat. An escort truck with at least two people checks for debris that could hamper Zipper Lane operations. The truck also escorts the ZipMobile back to the Zip Barn located on the H-1 median.

>> 2.1: Number of dollars — in millions — spent to operate the Zipper Lane each year.

Source: State Department of Transportation

Via: Star Advertiser

Star Advertiser: Editorial: Policies needed on sea level rise

(Source: Star Advertiser)

October 8, 2018

Here’s what climate-change researchers proffer as a certainty: sea level is rising and the rate of change is accelerating. What’s uncertain is the final rate. That depends on the handling of emission scenarios and other environmental matters here and around the planet.

If emerging projections hold, for starters, Hawaii can expect to see a lot more high-tide nuisance flooding — the sort that already sometimes soaks Mapunapuna streets — within the next two or three decades.

That alone should prod county and state leaders to quickly push forward efforts to fend off climate change woes while also contemplating response to potential hard hits — such as how to pay for infrastructure that could be rendered insufficient or, at worst, dangerous, such as sewers and coastal roads.

In a big-picture study published last month in the Nature journal, Scientific Reports, a team of researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources found that in addition to land edging Oahu’s shoreline, some low-elevation areas — up to a few miles inland — are also vulnerable to rising ocean waters.

This latest study is held out as the most realistic yet as it more thoroughly folds in factors of chronic erosion and wave run-up, which can yield more flooding. It was conducted to support the Hawai‘i Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report, which was completed in December to help with government planning.

The jarring takeaway from the new report: The sum of at-risk land is twice as large as mapped out in previous projections. Oahu’s south shore — Waikiki to the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, and Ewa Beach — fall into the vulnerable bracket.

In recent years, Hawaii has rightly assembled panels to size up the future. There’s the state’s Climate Commission, which includes nearly 20 officials representing various levels of local government. There’s also the Honolulu Climate Change Commission, a five-member panel of academics and sustainability experts tasked with poring over the latest scientific data tied to current and future impacts.

The Honolulu commission works in tandem with the city’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency, which was created in 2016 when voters approved a City Charter amendment. Among its marching orders: pinpoint ways to design infrastructure that will endure in the face of impacts, thereby avoiding spending many more millions in taxpayer dollars to rebuild.

Altogether, there’s a lot of valuable think-tank work underway. However, based on the emerging picture, we do not have the luxury of time.

County councils and state lawmakers should now be drafting legislation — straightforward rules and regulations — that can help the islands effectively brace for a future that’s more than likely to include climbing rates of coastal erosion and flooding.

Hawaii should be proud of green pledges, such as the one taken by Gov. David Ige and all four mayors to abide by the Paris climate change accord despite President Donald Trump’s decision to step away from it. The long-term goals of the accord require the state to expand already ambitious strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In the short-term, state and county leaders should incorporate fresh data into shoreline setback rules. Maui County is now weighing a proposal to push inland its erosion hazard line. Kauai responded to erosion projections a decade ago when, in a move to retain coastal integrity, it created one of the most aggressive setbacks in the country.

Also, public-private partnerships that share planning and price tags should also be in the mix as sea-level rise will not discriminate between the two types of property. According to the just-published report, potential impacts of 3.2 feet of sea-level rise on Oahu (by the century’s end) include the loss of $12.9 billion in structures and land, and the loss of nearly 18 miles of major roads.

Via: Star Advertiser

Star Advertiser: Violent crimes renew concern over game rooms

(Source: Star Advertiser)

October 7, 2018

by: Dan Nakaso

A makeshift wooden frame covered with wire fencing surrounds a stairway leading down to a heavy, blue-gray metal door at one end of a beige, two-story commercial building on Kalihi Street.

There’s no sign to indicate what kind of activity is taking place inside the fortified entrance but the presence of surveillance cameras and the brisk exchange of people coming in and out of the place offer telltale signs of an illegal game room where customers feed money into an assortment of video games in hopes of a cash payout.

The parlor is less than 50 yards across the busy street from Kalihi Uka Elementary School, which boasts a banner proclaiming it a 2018 National Blue Ribbon school.

Authorities say similar operations can be found throughout Hawaii, including those run as stand-alone enterprises and in bars, mom-and-pop stores and other locations. A recent spate of violent crimes — robberies, shootings and killings — committed at these sites is renewing concerns about the lucrative and persistent underground gaming dens.

“It’s islandwide,” said Lt. Michael Brede Jr. of the Honolulu Police Department’s Narcotics/Vice Division. “Yes, we’ve had mom-and-pop establishments with one or two machines to as large as 20-machine establishments.”

So far this year, Honolulu police have executed 22 search warrants and made 39 gambling arrests, Brede said. Officers also have seized almost $200,000 to date “in cash, just cash” and an estimated $2 million worth of gaming machines.

Capt. Phillip Johnson of the Narcotics/Vice Division said that after building a case and executing arrest and search warrants, “we confiscate evidence, we seize assets. When we leave there’s nothing left inside. However, that doesn’t stop the same individuals from getting another location and springing up again in a couple of days.”

The cash-only game rooms often attract an undesirable crowd, said attorney Myles Breiner.

“It’s kind of the gray economy and part of the underworld here,” Breiner said. “They’re open all night long and people play these games endlessly. That attracts a lot of the criminal element.”

Two years ago, Breiner filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of two men who were assaulted in an Ala Moana game room in 2014 by an on-duty, plainclothes Honolulu police officer while the officer and his partners unsuccessfully searched for a suspect.

Officer Vincent Morre, who also hit a man in the head with a stool, pleaded guilty to violating the victims’ civil rights and was sentenced to 30 months in prison at a low-security federal prison in California.

Honolulu City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, who grew up in Kalihi and attended Kalihi Uka Elementary School, knows the nondescript, two-story building well.

There was never a downstairs entrance before, he said.

Kaneshiro said there’s been a resurgence in violence at game rooms because of all the cash that comes in. Some of the electronic gambling machines can cost as much as $5,000 to purchase from the mainland but can generate as much as $10,000 in just one week, he said.

“It’s the cash,” the prosecutor said. “Guys are going in there and robbing the game rooms. And now we have murders occurring in the game rooms.”

Because witnesses and victims are involved in illegal gambling activity, it’s often difficult to persuade them to testify in court cases or even report the crimes.

The suspects “know they’re robbing an illegal activity, so the victims of the robbery are not willing participants in the criminal justice system,” Kaneshiro said.

No one knows exactly how many underground game rooms are operating behind blacked-out windows, heavy security and surveillance cameras across Oahu.

“There are easily half-a-dozen to a dozen just between Chinatown and Waikiki,” Breiner said. “They try to keep a low profile because it’s all illegal.”

They typically don’t even offer liquor or food in order to avoid regulatory oversight.

Inside a game room

State Rep. John Mizuno, whose district includes Kalihi, said he visited a game room on the other end of the same two-story building on Kalihi Street eight years ago before it was shut down. Early Thursday evening, the legislator and his wife, May, accompanied by a reporter, went looking for the new location.

After being pointed in the right direction by a cashier at a nearby business, the Mizunos walked past the wire cage and followed a man and woman down the stairs and inside through the metal door outfitted with a shiny, industrial lock.

They were greeted by two large men who sat in front of a surveillance monitor that displayed different views of the entrance and building. Above them hung a hand-written sign that read “86 List” and included about a dozen first names of people who apparently are not welcome back.

The dark room reeked of stale cigarette smoke. Any windows were covered by plywood, the cold glow of computers and video game screens providing the sole illumination. A window-­mounted air-conditioning unit circulated cool air and a stainless-steel microwave oven and white refrigerator stood near a bathroom.

A man leaned against one wall counting a handful of $1 bills while four others watched a man play a video game about the size of an air hockey game. It was one of six identical games that one of the presumed bouncers referred to as “insect.” After inserting a $1 bill, players set about “shooting” as many robotic insects as possible.

May Mizuno inserted $1 and asked how to play the game, as insects swarmed her onscreen “gun.” As the session expired, one of the bouncers left the surveillance monitor to come over and explain that she had to keep feeding the game with dollar bills and playing until she earned a minimum of $50 worth of credits to get paid, with a $50,000 limit.

On the mauka side of the room, four players sat in front of separate video machines: one for draw poker, one for blackjack and two that offered a choice of several games including video slots.

A hand-written sign said “3,000 max and 25 minimum,” which other players explained meant that a player has to win a minimum of $25 or a maximum of $3,000 to get paid.

One-by-one, the four players left as their game sessions expired.

John Mizuno played two hands of blackjack for $1 each and lost both times. His wife sat down next to him, inserted $1 into a different machine and selected a game resembling video slots.

After about 15 minutes, the Mizunos left the game room $3 poorer.

As the legislator walked back up the stairs, a man on the street said, “Eh, Mizuno, you like gamble?”

“Nah, just looking,” Mizuno replied.

May Mizuno said she likes to play slot machines at the Bellagio hotel and casino in Las Vegas. While the accommodations Thursday night were nothing like that opulent resort, she called the video games “Vegas-style gambling.”

“It’s right across from the school,” she said. “It is very concerning.”

Suspicious activity

Honolulu City Councilman Joey Manahan said he believes there are at least a handful of unmarked game rooms in his Kalihi district.

“The problem’s getting worse again while these gaming establishments are less visible now,” Manahan said. “We’re getting a lot of complaints and seeing lots of suspicious activity, if not criminal activity, in our neighborhoods. … It’s becoming a big problem.”

In August, Manahan introduced Bill 67 designed to “address nuisances related to the promotion of illegal drugs and to gambling activities.”

Manahan acknowledged the bill needs more research and work before it can advance and apply more bite to existing anti-gambling laws.

“I don’t like these establishments,” Manahan said. “They’re becoming a big problem, and I’m really against them.”

Johnson of HPD’s Vice/Narcotics Division said the public can help in two ways:

“Let us know if they see heavy traffic in an area that doesn’t (normally) have it,” he said. “It might indicate that something’s popped up there.”

And if they don’t want to find themselves in an illegal game room with people who might have guns, Johnson said, “Of course, don’t patronize these establishments.”

Via: Star Advertiser