(Source: Civil Beat)
(Source: Civil Beat)
(Source: Civil Beat)
(Source: Hawaii News Now)
HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – Sean Davidson is a chef that helps cater events at vacation rentals. He worries the trickle down effect from tougher regulations on vacation rentals will for him turn feast to famine.
“It’s already hard enough to get these gigs and stay constant,” said Davidson.
Chef and owner of Course Hawaii, Andrew Stone says he started a side pickle business three years ago anticipating that a quarter of his catering business could go sour.
“I’m just one of a thousand people that are going to end up losing their job,” said Stone.
Owners of illegal vacation rentals were too afraid to speak out after the city council passed two bills that toughen regulations, but predict dire consequences to the economy.
“I can’t say that’s accurate or not, but the fact remains that those folks who don’t have a permit and are operating — are operating an illegal business,” said Council chair Ikaika Anderson.
City leaders say there’s 6,000 to 8,000 illegal vacation rentals while only 800 have permits.
“We also know that while tourism in Hawaii spending is flat and that is a function of illegal short term rentals. These are bad for our communities and they are bad for our economy,” said Kekoa McClellan, Hawaii spokesman for American Hotel and Lodging Association.
The council passed two vacation rental bills. City attorneys warned the council the two bills conflict because the master use tables in each bill don’t match and that governs how the land is used.
“So the mayor needs to decide which bills or both bills if he’s going to sign both of them,” said Anderson.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he’d sign 89 into law, but didn’t indicate what he’ll do about the other bill.
(Souce: Star Advertiser)
Key Honolulu City Council members say they moved up the votes on two game-changing vacation rental bills in hopes of influencing Gov. David Ige as he decides whether to sign a controversial bill passed by the state Legislature at the end of October.
Ige has until Monday to announce his intention to veto any bills passed by this year’s Legislature. Senate Bill 1292, which survived a narrow a 13-12 vote, would allow vacation rental hosting platforms such as Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway to collect taxes on behalf of the state.
The legislative measure generated large opposition, including from those bothered that it would allow the platforms to collect taxes for the state without disclosing to the counties the names of vacation rental owners, the locations of the rentals or other information.
The Council voted Monday to approve two bills imposing stricter regulations and fines on both rental platform companies and vacation rental operators. One of them, Bill 89 (2018), also would permit up to 1,715 new hosted bed-and-breakfast-type operations but no new whole-home transient vacation units (TVUs).
Both Council Chairman Ikaika Anderson and Councilman Ron Menor, who chairs the Zoning, Planning and Housing Committee, said that after the two Council bills moved out of Menor’s committee June 7, they chose to hold Monday’s special full Council meeting to vote on its two bills instead of waiting until their next regularly scheduled monthly meeting on July 3.
But both men gave different reasons for wishing to expedite the bills.
Anderson said he wants the governor to reject the Senate bill on several grounds.
“I don’t feel it’s right that government collect taxes from an illegal business,” Anderson said.
Additionally, “this is a land use issue, and land use issues are determined by the counties,” he said. “Leave it to us to handle it. And we’ve handled it with our action Monday.”
Menor said, however, he’s not certain he wants Ige to veto the Senate bill. He just wanted to send a message to Ige that his administration should review the bill’s language thoroughly to ensure it won’t preempt recent legislation by the city and the other counties that regulate vacation rentals, including Monday’s bills.
“My thinking was that the Council should pass our bills out to the governor before the June 24 notice-to-veto deadline as a way of sending a clear message to the governor that Council members want him to carefully review the Senate measure to make sure it does not preempt the Council’s short-term rental bills,” Menor said.
He said he’s being told that the language in the Senate measure will not prevent counties from enacting land use ordinances that have to deal with vacation rentals. “If there is such a provision, that would allay my concerns,” he said. Nonetheless, he said, the state should double-check.
“If there is any risk of preemption, the governor should veto the measure,” Menor said.
It’s a concern Ige shares. In 2016 the governor vetoed a similar measure, arguing that it would have shielded property owners who illegally operate vacation rentals. The city Department of Planning and Permitting estimates there are 8,000-10,000 illegal vacation rentals on Oahu alone.
Ige’s staff said Tuesday the state administration is still reviewing the bill.
Across the street at Honolulu Hale, Mayor Kirk Caldwell is making it clear that, pending a legal review, he intends to sign Bill 89 rather than Bill 85 (2018). The second bill provides better enforcement tools for the city and stiffer penalties and regulations against violators, but no permitting of any new vacation rentals.
He urged members to pass Bill 89, and they did so unanimously 9-0. They also approved Bill 85 by a 7-2 vote.
But almost as certain as the likelihood of Caldwell signing Bill 89 is the possibility that it will face legal challenges from unhappy hosting platforms, their operators or both.
Airbnb attorney David Louie, in written comments he gave to the Council earlier this month, said his clients are OK with fair regulation but opposed to Bill 89. The bill violates the Fourth Amendment, prohibiting unreasonable search and seizure, because it requires that the hosting platforms submit reports to the city with the names of its operators, their addresses, state transient accommodations tax identification numbers, the length of stays and the prices paid.
Louie pointed to a 2015 California case where the U.S. Supreme Court determined it violated the Fourth Amendment to force hotel operators to make their guest records available to police on demand or face criminal penalties.
“Several courts have specifically applied these Fourth Amendment principles to enjoin ordinances and subpoenas directed at hosting platforms by municipal governments,” Louie said, citing recent lawsuits by Airbnb against New York, Boston and Palm Beach, Fla.
Bill 89’s language also violates the federal Stored Communications Act of 1986, which protects people using internet platforms from the government taking stored electronic private information without due process, such as a search warrant, Louie said.
Ivan Lui-Kwan, an attorney for several hoteliers that support Bill 89, said Louie is wrong.
Lui-Kwan pointed to a March decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case involving the city of Santa Monica, Calif., and online platform company HomeAway.com, part of the Expedia Group. Both HomeAway and Airbnb sued Santa Monica arguing that the city could not require the hosting platforms to disclose listing and booking information and other provisions.
The 9th Circuit ruled that the Santa Monica ordinance did not violate any federal laws “because it holds hosting platforms liable only for their own conduct — namely, for providing, and collecting a fee for, booking services in connection with an unregistered unit,” Lui-Kwan said in a June 12 memo he gave to the Honolulu Council.
The Honolulu bill was patterned after the Santa Monica law, Lui-Kwan said.
If Caldwell signs one of the bills, the city also may be subject to a legal challenge from operators of so-called 30-day rentals.
Those vacation rental operators said that under a settlement agreement with DPP, they are allowed to rent to a party for less than 30 days so long as they agree not to rent to anyone else during that 30-day period. They said Bill 89 would take that way.
Menor said, however, that there is no taking because the proponents of 30-day rentals have misread the agreement. Legitimate 30-day rentals, where renters pay for and are entitled to stay all 30 days but choose not to, are legal, he said.
“Sham” 30-day rentals are the opposite, Menor said. Renters stay less than 30 days, are charged at a rate of less than 30 days and are not entitled to stay 30 days, making them illegal even if the owners agree not to rent to anyone else during that period, he said.
(Source: Hawaii News Now)
May 29, 2019
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – In a bid to rein in ballooning costs for handling trash, the city is moving Urban Honolulu’s bulky item pickup to an appointment-based system starting Monday.
In a news conference Wednesday, the city said it’s already received 860 reservations for pick-up across the urban core. One potential red flag, though: Only 12 reservations have been made in Kalihi.
Appointments can be made online at opala.org or by calling 768-3200.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell stressed that the switch to an appointment-based system is part of a pilot project. But he also made it clear that it’s a pilot with a long shelf life ― running at least through January ― and that if the demonstration doesn’t work the alternative might have to be charging for bulky item pickup.
The city hasn’t said if this pilot will be taken islandwide.
“There’s no other city in our country of large size that picks up bulky items for free,” he said. “We’re subsidizing the pick up of our solid waste more and more every year.”
(Source: Star Advertiser)
June 3, 2019
By: Andrew Gomes
A really, really big plastic straw for sucking up sea water several miles off Kakaako might be ready for deployment next year as part of a system to air-condition 40 or so buildings mostly downtown.
The developer of the $250 million system recently obtained its last major regulatory approval for the project, first announced in 2004.
Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning LLC reached an agreement earlier this year with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources on how to minimize and mitigate disruptions to coral and rock supporting marine life in the path of its planned 4.7-mile pipeline tapping 44-degree sea water from 1,755 feet below the ocean surface.
“All of the major permits that are needed for us to proceed have been secured,” said Eric Masutomi, Honolulu Seawater CEO.
The company still needs a few more customer commitments before it can access financing, but the city is expected to sign up municipal buildings by the end of this year or early next year so long-delayed construction can begin.
Construction, which includes the offshore pipeline, a central plant and distribution lines to buildings, is expected to take 18 to 20 months and be finished in 2022, Masutomi said.
The agreement with DLNR requires that Honolulu Seawater relocate some coral affected by a 63-inch-diameter intake pipe and 54-inch-diameter return pipe.
The pipeline is designed to deliver cold sea water to a land-based heat-exchange plant where fresh water is chilled and sent to individual building air conditioning systems via distribution lines laid beneath streets. Leftover warmed sea water in the heat exchanger is then pumped back into the ocean.
An initial 1,600 feet of offshore intake and return piping will be housed in a tunnel drilled beneath the seafloor before connecting to a short stretch of return pipe and longer intake pipe anchored to the seafloor using up to 952 concrete footings, each of which covers 3.6 square feet to 76 square feet of ground area. A 160-square-foot area also will be disturbed where the tunneled pipes connect with the exposed pipes.
Based on surveys, Honolulu Seawater estimates that it will displace 86 square feet of coral and 11,577 square feet of rock supporting marine life. The company will use a marine biologist and engineers to pick a path of least disruption and will relocate coral in the tunnel exit area to nearby sites. Nearly all the coral affected by footings is within the first half-mile of pipe on the seafloor, according to the agreement.
Local government officials have endorsed the project because it will reduce electricity and potable water use while also producing less wastewater compared with traditional air conditioning systems in large buildings.
“The engineering design and deep water pipeline installation has been proven to be feasible, reliable and economical,” DLNR said in a 2011 report that noted similar systems exist in Sweden, Hong Kong, Canada, the mainland and at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority on Hawaii island.
Work on the Honolulu project, however, has dragged on for 15 years.
An affiliate of Minnesota- based Ever-Green Energy announced the project in 2004.
The firm said its system could cut air conditioning costs for building owners by up to 75% and eliminate 77 million kilowatt-hours of electricity use annually — enough to power about 13,000 homes.
Ever-Green also said the system would cut potable water consumption by more than 260 million gallons and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 84,000 tons a year, or the equivalent of removing 15,000 cars from Honolulu streets.
Initially, Ever-Green anticipated it could have the system running by mid-2007. But efforts to obtain financing, customers and regulatory approvals proved daunting.
A “breakthrough” was announced in 2008 when Honolulu Seawater said it raised $10.75 million in private financing. But the company also acknowledged that permitting obstacles still lay ahead.
“The permits are going to be a problem, but we feel very much that that’s under control,” William Mahlum, an Ever-Green official and then-chief executive of Honolulu Seawater, said at the time.
Over the next few years, Honolulu Seawater produced an environmental impact statement, obtained permits governing clean-water and conservation district use, received state approval to issue $145 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds and signed a 55-year lease with Kamehameha Schools for the heat-exchange plant site makai of the former Gold Bond Building.
In 2012 the company said it expected to start construction that year, but this was also premature.
Ulupono Initiative, an investment firm headed by billionaire eBay founder and Hawaii resident Pierre Omidyar, helped keep the project moving forward by acquiring majority ownership of Honolulu Seawater in 2014, which is also when Mahlum was replaced by Masutomi, a former state planner and Outrigger Enterprises executive.
Signing up enough customers is now the company’s last major hurdle.
A big advance on this front happened last year when the state finalized a deal to use the system to air-condition eight downtown buildings including the state Capitol. Ten other buildings also have signed up, including The Queen’s Medical Center, Hawaiian Electric Co., the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine, First Hawaiian Bank, the federal courthouse and One Waterfront Towers.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced Thursday that the city will connect its municipal buildings in the downtown/civic center area to Honolulu Seawater’s planned system.
Masutomi said customer agreements, not including the city’s intended move, cover a little more than half the system’s capacity. To access financing, about two-thirds of the supply must be booked. Masutomi said this mark should be achieved, thanks to the city, so that financing can be locked up by the end of this year or early next year and allow construction to finally begin.
“It’s been a long journey,” he said. “Despite the long journey, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.”
Via: Star Advertiser
(Source: Hawaii News Now)
HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – It’s a place where rush hour doesn’t exist and family-owned businesses are all that line the streets of town.
Molokai is home to a little more than 7,300 people. And everybody knows everybody.
Or, at least, that’s the way it used to be.
But since late last year, residents say, they’ve noticed a change: They’re finding more and more homeless squatters drifting around the island after getting a one-way ticket there.
“We don’t even know these guys. We haven’t seen them. Period,” said Friendly Market Manager PJ Augustiro.
Added community leader Barbara Haliniak, “I even see them sleeping around the store front. We never had that before.”
It’s not as if Molokai never had homeless people. But residents say they were all longtime Molokai residents.
“We kind of accepted the fact that they wanted to live away from their families. You didn’t see them at all,” Haliniak said.
Because Molokai isn’t included in the statewide homeless point-in-time count, there’s no official data on how many homeless people are on the island.
But residents put the number at about 40.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green spent a week traveling the state to see firsthand how Hawaii’s homeless crisis is affecting each island. And on Molokai, he found an island struggling to figure out how to handle an influx of new arrivals ― some of whom come with no housing and no intentions of getting it.
“It’s a really bad problem,” Augustiro told Green. “They always come flocking down first thing in the morning. Caught one of them stealing twice in one day alcohol.”
The problems go beyond shoplifting.
Resident Kevin Misaki says he recently had to hire a contractor to haul some old cars off his land after he noticed the property had been trashed.
“A lot of the homeless were using it to sleep at night. Or party,” said Misaki.
It’s a shift that’s caught many in the community off guard.
Tezra Wheeler is among the new homeless residents of Molokai.
The 28-year-old is from Denver, and came to Molokai hoping to do farm work in exchange for a place to live. Right now, she’s in between jobs.
“I stay everywhere,” she said. “I guess people would call it nomadic. After I leave here, I’ll visit Maui for a while.”
The new type of homelessness perplexes those who work with the population.
Zhantell Lindo has been working with Molokai’s homeless for about two years.
“Up until that time, we only thought we had one homeless person here,” said Lindo.
She added the last thing Molokai needs is a homeless shelter. And that seems to be a consensus on Molokai.
“Because it’s an invitation,” Haliniak said. “Go to Molokai, they have a shelter they can take care of you.”
What they do want are places where people can get drug treatment and where the mentally ill can get help. Another suggestion is to relax some of the housing laws.
“We get huge (agriculture) properties that are restricted by the size of house you can live in and then you got to go through all the expense of subdividing,” Lindo said.
“But what if you just made it easy for people to live?”
It’s an option the island’s state representative is looking into. She also wants Molokai’s homeless to be included in the federal point-in-time count.
Those numbers determine how much money the county receives to address the problem.
“Regardless of whether the numbers are 40 or 100, they still need to be accounted for,” said state Rep. Lynn DeCoite.
In the meantime, residents can’t help but be wary as they ponder the future of their tiny island.
“There’s a lot of aloha here on Molokai and, of course, we welcome everybody,” said resident Rosie Davis.
“But there comes a point where we have to say, ‘What about our people here on this island?’ We have to take care of our own.”
(Source: KHON 2)
HONOLULU (KHON) – A mix-up at the Department of Motor Vehicles got licenses of two men sent to each other’s houses — on different sides of the island.
City officials say it was the result of human error.
However, the city is beefing up the DMV to help with driver license processing and upgrading other services.
One man — from Honolulu — wanted to update his license to a Gold Star, REAL ID version, to get ahead of a new federal law that will take effect next year.
Ralph Taniguchi from Honolulu went to the City and County website to order a duplicate — but that’s not what he got.
He spoke with us, but didn’t want to be on-camera.
“Unfortunately I received, in the mail, an envelope with my name on it, but someone else’s temporary license in that envelope.”
He turned in the other man’s ID to Satellite City Hall Downtown and got a temporary, Gold Star version, with a plastic one to come in the mail soon.
Of the mix-up, City and County of Honolulu Customer Services Director Sheri Kajiwara says:
“So we found that there was a clerk error, where she put the wrong card in the wrong envelope before it was sent out.”
The employee received retraining.
To help prevent future mix-ups, the City will stop mailing out temporary Gold Star duplicates — since people requesting them already have valid licenses — since temporary IDs are not accepted for travel — and since the Gold Star rule doesn’t take effect until October first of next year.
Not everybody will need an updated license.
Kajiwara says, “we do want people to know that the gold star is optional. It’s only if you plan to travel, and you don’t want to use a passport or military ID or a federal ID and you want to use your driver license or State ID then that document needs the gold star.”
Still, the city is beefing up the DMV in preparation for a flood of Gold Star requests — especially as next year’s deadline draws closer.
One way– is an upgrade to the online appointment booking system. Starting Wednesday, people can book DMV appointments up to six months in advance.
Those without computer access can call the Customer Care phone number (768-4381) during business hours.
If you’re online-savvy, you can find the licensing and appointment link and more help here.
Driver licensing site: http://www.honolulu.gov/license
DMV appointment booking: https://alohaq.honolulu.gov/?0
Gold Star and more frequently asked questions: FAQs
What documents will I need? https://www2.honolulu.gov/documentguide/
Still up in the air, is the location of Ralph Taniguchi’s license — that was mailed to Kaneohe — we’re working to find out.
(Source: Star Advetiser)
Question: Many overhead streetlights are on during the day, especially the yellow glow ones. They’ve been on for a good three months, and are most prevalent in downtown Honolulu, fronting Central Middle School and along Beretania Street. When will this wasteful situation be fixed?
Answer: This situation, which many other readers also have asked about, is a temporary consequence of the installation of new LED streetlights throughout Oahu. Ross Sasamura, director of the city Department of Facility Maintenance, explains:
“Under our Island-wide LED Street Light Conversion Project, we are installing smart street light control nodes. These control nodes are different from the current photocells that control the previous ‘legacy’ street lights, since they allow status-monitoring of the new LED street lights. These control nodes require 24/7 power to allow this function. The lights that remain ‘on’ during the day are the legacy street lights connected to circuits controlled by master photocells. These photocells were bypassed to enable monitoring of the new LED street lights. The legacy street lights on these circuits will be replaced with LED street lights in the next few weeks, when our contractor returns to these areas.”
Once those old lights are replaced, the new LED ones won’t be on during the day, in the neighborhoods you mentioned and in other areas that are similarly affected, according to the city.
More than 53,000 streetlights on Oahu are being replaced in this project. LED lights are more energy- efficient.
Q: It was reported that the superintendent was rated as “effective.” On what scale?
A: The state Board of Education rated Department of Education Superintendent Christina Kishimoto on a scale that ranged, in descending order, from “highly effective” to “effective” to “marginal” to “unsatisfactory.” So Kishimoto, who has led Hawaii’s public school system since August 2017, received the second- highest possible rating.
Her end-of-year assessment focused on 10 professional standards and priorities to establish an overall rating. In those categories, she received seven “effective” and three “highly effective” ratings, for an overall rating of “effective.”
You can read the assessment at 808ne.ws/kisheval. If you’re interested in learning more about the evaluation process, including the difference between “effective” and “highly effective,” you can find that information at 808ne.ws/process.
Q: Is there any moving lava left to see in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park?
A: No, “there is no molten lava to see anywhere in the park,” according to the park website, which a spokeswoman confirmed was up to date. Beginning about a year ago, the lava lake that had existed inside Halemaumau crater disappeared, and lava flows from Puu Oo crater ceased.
E kala mai
Many apologies for hogging the aisle at Beretania Safeway. I am new at this scooter thing. Hopefully it won’t last forever. I know people noticed my inept maneuvering, but nobody complained and a few offered assistance. Their kindness overwhelmed my embarrassment, which had kept me from seeking help in the first place. Mahalo for that. — Old dog
This is a much-belated thank you to Edward and Napolean for helping with a car problem at Longs Kailua. It turned out to be a broken shift cable. It was late, but they patiently and kindly tried to help. The tow truck with Arthur and Justin arrived from Kahaluu and towed the car home. The auto shops were closed by then. Thank you all so much for your help. — Grateful senior
Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email email@example.com.
(Source: Star Advertiser)
Following three fatal crashes in the past month, including a helicopter crash in Kailua, the National Transportation Safety Board is calling for greater safety measures to the federal regulations covering them.
The NTSB is still investigating the midair collision between two floatplanes in Alaska this month, followed by a Beaver floatplane crash a week later. Those aircraft, along with a Robinson R44 helicopter that crashed in a residential neighborhood of Kailua last month, were operating under Part 135 of Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
“While these tragic accidents are still under investigation, and no findings or causes have been determined, each crash underscores the urgency of improving the safety of charter flights by implementing existing NTSB safety recommendations,” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt in a news release. “The need for those improvements is why the NTSB put Part 135 aircraft flight operations on the 2019–2020 Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements.”
The FAA’s Part 135 certificate covers the operation of a range of aircraft offering business and charter flights, including air medical service, air taxi, charter or on-demand flights. The NTSB said these operators are not required to meet the same safety requirements as commercial airlines.
“Even without requirements, many such operators could be taking more initiative to ensure the highest level of safety for their aircraft and passengers,” said the NTSB.
The NTSB’s safety recommendations call on Part 135 operators to implement safety management systems — currently not required — in addition to flight data monitoring. Additionally, the NTSB recommends that Part 135 operators make sure their pilots receive controlled-flight-into-terrain avoidance training.
All of the above are available, the NTSB said, and can improve safety and prevent crashes.
Major passenger airlines, which operate under Part 121, have adopted these measures and have seen a great improvement in safety, the NTSB said.
“A customer who pays for a ticket should trust that the operator is using the industry’s best practices when it comes to safety,’’ Sumwalt said. “And it shouldn’t matter if the operator has one airplane or 100. Travelers should have an equivalent level of safety regardless of the nature of the flight for which they paid.”
On May 20 a Beaver floatplane crashed during a commuter flight in Metlakatla Harbor, Alaska, killing the pilot and passenger.
On May 13 a fatal, midair collision occurred between two floatplanes — a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver and de Havilland DHC-3 Turbine Otter — near Ketchikan, Alaska, killing one pilot and five passengers.
On April 29 a Robinson R44 helicopter crashed on Oneawa Street in Kailua, killing the pilot and two female passengers aboard.
In the preliminary report for the Kailua helicopter crash, witnesses saw pieces falling from the air before the aircraft fell to the street. They saw the helicopter descending rapidly, nose down, with none of the rotor blades moving.
The NTSB recently released the preliminary report of the May 13 midair collision in Alaska but did not discuss probable cause. The preliminary report for the second airplane crash in Alaska has not been released yet.
Determination of probable cause and issuance of safety recommendations come at the end of an investigation, said the NTSB, but take one to two years to complete.
(Source: Hawaii News Now)
HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – Back in 2000, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply paid $30 million for an automated meter reading system to help it measure the monthly water use of its 170,000 residential and business customers.
But a former meter reader said the automated system has been flawed ever since its launch nearly two decades ago.
“I don’t know why they kept the system because the system screwed up most of the time,” said Nathan Kau, who retired this year after 35 years as a meter reader and supervisor.
Kau said when the system was first being built, it was tested on 4,500 homes. It was unable to pick up signals from the meter on 1,500 homes, he said.
More recently, in 2014, the Honolulu City Auditor found that it could not read the meters nearly 15 percent of the time.
The Board of Water Supply did not respond to our questions about the accuracy of the meters. But in response to the City Auditor five years ago, it said it was able to reduce the no-reads to about 9 percent.
But Kau believes the rate is much are much higher than that.
“I can tell you 9 percent is not good enough,” he said.
“You wouldn’t take that as good — not me — because that many people are getting screwed.”
Environmental activist Carroll Cox asked similar questions about the system last month and he said he only got evasive answers.
“We the consumers, the ratepayers are getting soaked. We’re actually being cheated out of our hard earned money,” Cox said.
It’s unclear how much customers could be overpaying.
In a video produced by the BWS, a spokeswoman says meters are read by hand-held devices by staffer when they can’t be read by the automated system.
If that can’t be done, the company says customers’ water bill is estimated using past usage. It said only two percent of its customers bills are estimated each year.