Monthly Archives: July 2019

Proposed Mauna Kea Telescope Failed Environmental Review Process

Local Kupuna (elders) insisted on taking the front line to block the TMT construction crew access to the Mauna Kea summit on Day 1 – July 14, 2019 PC: Nate Yuen

The latest proposed 18-story $1.4 billion telescope addition to the Mauna Kea Summit was bound to create a tipping point in Hawaiian history.

It’s no secret that Hawaii residents constantly have to protest against the intransigence (unwillingness to listen) of big government and/or private corporations who have the backing of big government in many projects.

Yes, the State of Hawaii has significant and purposeful checks and balances in its environmental review process – Environmental Assessment ( EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) – for major projects. But adherence to the entire prescribed rules and regulations and process is inconsistent.  

Project owners get to choose and compensate their own environmental review company.  Environmental review processes are regularly pushed through the status quo food chain despite public concerns over multiplier negative impacts like traffic, loss of fertile farm lands, social upheaval, fiscal impropriety, cultural damages, and so forth.

Consultation” and “Public Participation” with the most affected parties are mandated core requisites in the environmental review process, but often ignored and subverted in real life.

Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR) Section 11-200-5 requires an agency to “assess at the earliest practicable time the significance of potential impacts of its actions, including the overall cumulative impact in light of related actions in the region and further actions contemplated.”

HAR §11-200-9(1) explicitly states that the agency must also consult with “those citizen groups and individuals which the approving agency reasonably believes to be affected.”

The intent of the term, “consult” in the context of the Hawai‘i EIS Law is clear. The clarification is found in the 1997 Guidebook for the Hawai‘i State Environmental Review Process, prepared by the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC):

  Pre-assessment Consultation

         Prior to preparing your draft EA it is important to consult with the community regarding your proposed activity as well as agencies. [emphasis in the original] Groups, individuals and organizations that have expertise in the field, have an interest or will be affected by the activity you are proposing should be consulted.  Immediate neighbors or neighboring landowners must be contacted.  Consultation with the local planning department is required.  The local planning office can also direct you to other necessary agency contacts.  [OEQC Guidebook, p.13]

“Consultation” with the affected community is the first of several elements of public participation in the environmental review process established under Chapter 343. 

Public participation is the core value to rational environmental management and has long been recognized as good policy. It is explicitly identified as a founding principle in the legislative findings that preface the environmental review law:

§343-1 Findings and purpose.  The legislature finds that the quality of humanity’s environment is critical to humanity’s well being, that humanity’s activities have broad and profound effects upon the interrelations of all components of the environment, and that an environmental review process will integrate the review of environmental concerns with existing planning processes of the State and counties and alert decision makers to significant environmental effects which may result from the implementation of certain actions. 

The legislature further finds that the process of reviewing environmental effects is desirable because environmental consciousness is enhanced, cooperation and coordination are encouraged, and public participation during the review process benefits all parties involved and society as a whole.

Both the Rules and the Guidebook provide that consultations with the community should occur at the outset of the process, prior to assembly of the actual draft EA.  This assures that both concerns of the community and its intimate knowledge of the site of proposed actions are understood and incorporated into the planning process.

Furthermore, HAR 11-200-9(C) requires agencies proposing an action to analyze alternatives to the nominal project proposal in the environmental assessment.  

Consideration of alternatives is another core element of the environmental planning process and offers one of the key tools available to achieve the purpose of environmental impact minimization.  The OEQC Guidebook includes specific instructions regarding the discussion of alternatives:

Consider alternative methods and modes of your project, and discuss them in the draft EA.  Select the one with the least detrimental effect to the environment.  Alternatives to consider include:

•  Different sites:  is one site less likely to infringe on an environment that needs protection, such as a wetlands or an historic district?

 •  Different facility configurations:  is one configuration less likely to intrude on scenic view planes?

Alternative analysis should include input from the community.  Community members may be aware of concerns and impacts that make a particular alternative more or less desirable. [OEQC Guidebook, p.15]

The Guidebook also offers insight into what’s expected in an EA in the way of alternatives analysis in its discussion of questions to ask when reviewing an EA.

Are alternatives to the proposed project (including no project at all) adequately explored? Are there other ways to carry out the project which may be less damaging to the environment? Are different designs or approaches discussed sufficiently? What basic improvements can you suggest? [OEQC Guidebook, p.9]

         Thus, alternatives to discuss include not just the no action case, but also actions of a significantly different nature that would provide similar benefits with different minimal impacts, different designs or project details, different locations, different facility configurations, and even the alternative of postponing an action pending development of a more viable proposal. (Bold added for emphasis)

The Mauna Kea’s 18-story telescope’s environment review process and other related procedures inevitably became more complicated through the years.

Opponents were forced into the courts to be recognized. Conflicts of interests relating to the State Hearing Officer relating to permit issuance were fought over. and so on. Yet, the powers-that-be continued its intransigent behavior. Subsequent elected officials continued the same intransigent pattern.

History shows that in August 2008, Star Advertiser’s Kevin Dayton reported:  

U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye is pressing to have a huge new telescope project built on Mauna Kea that is almost certain to be controversial among Native Hawaiians. But he is also proposing steps such as scholarships for Hawaiian students as part of an initiative to garner public support for the project.

The loss of the TMT project to a competing site in Chile “would not bode well for us as a nation, and could very well signal an end to any major astronomy investment on American soil,” Inouye wrote in the letter.

TMT Observatory Corp. — a partnership between the University of California, California Institute of Technology and an organization of Canadian universities — selected Mauna Kea and Cerro Armazones in Chile as the two potential locations for the telescope it hopes to build by 2018.”

Kevin Dayton further reported a significant piece of information about the review process then:

“Sierra Club’s Mauna Kea Issues Committee Co-chair Nelson Ho said no one knows the “carrying capacity” of the mountain, or the point at which the development overwhelms the natural resources there.

“I think the senator is ignoring a lot of widespread sentiment that Big Islanders don’t want more telescopes on the mountain, let alone the TMT,” Ho said. “It’s a huge monstrosity at a time when there are still too many unresolved issues on the table.”

Obviously Nelson Ho, an informed and local activist’s opinions were insufficient to be acknowledged as part of the “consultation” and “public participation” review process.

A stream of public concerns from various groups and peoples would continue. Unfortunately, the TMT site had been pre-selected and pre-determined. Big government would steamroll the project through no matter what.

It’s time for the oligarchs of Hawaii to play fair, not strong-arm politics. The Mauna Kea project is not the sole irritation in Hawaii.

There are countless controversial decisions that are pushed through without thoughtful consideration of significant public concerns and input, like the struggling Honolulu Rapid Transit Project, the Important Agricultural Lands (IAL) Designations, the proposed Ala Wai Canal Watershed Project, Ho’opili, Ala Moana Beach Park Master Plan, Sherwood Forest Master Plan, Blaisdell Center Facelift, A&B Water Irrigation Permits, the Thomas Square Project, the Hauula Fire Station Relocation, Kahuku Wind Turbines, and so forth.

The Mauna Kea Project’s history of intransigence- – ignoring “consulting” and “public participation” during the review process also does not adequately address many other unanswered questions about Hawaii’s crown and ceded lands, the cultural, historical and social impacts, the “conservation” zoned land use and management and so forth

Yet, on July 14, 2019, there was an orchestrated display of force by Hawaii’s Oligarchs. In addition to DOCARE police, sheriffs, and National Guards, more police presence would be deployed from Oahu and Maui. The presence of LRAD, or “sound cannon,” tear gas, raid gear, batons and so  on were also present as reported by observers.

Subsequently, on July 17, 2019, law enforcement arrested 38 peaceful opponents of the Project. The Governor then issued a State of Emergency through his media communications team:

      HONOLULU – Gov. David Ige today issued      an emergency proclamation to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the people on Hawai‘i Island and across the State of Hawai‘i, to also ensure the execution of the law, prevent lawless violence, and the obstruction of the execution of the law.

The emergency proclamation gives law enforcement increased flexibility and authority to close more areas and restrict access on Mauna Kea. This will allow law enforcement to improve its management of the site and surrounding areas and ensure public safety.

“Our top priority is the safety and security of our communities and the TMT construction teams. This is a long-term process and we are committed to enforcing the law and seeing this project through,” said Ige. 

The Resistance, practicing fortitude and Kapu Aloha, has been peaceful and non violent as all visiting observers have attested to.

A fair-minded person should be extremely concerned with the chronic intransigent pattern in undermining values of “consultation” and “public participation” of the most affected parties, the flaunting and abuse of big government powers and resources towards the Mauna Kea Resistance thus far.

What may be deemed legal may not always be just or pono.

Choon James has been a community advocate for decades. She has also been a real estate broker for over 30 years. She can be reached at Photos by Nate Yuen. Special mahalo to John Harrison, PHD UH Manoa Environmental Center (Retired).

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s Facebook Page

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell obviously has a public Face Book page. Like a typical politician, a reader can see spin and disinformation. As case in point is the above post on Kuly 10, 2019 by the Mayor’s Communications Team.

But Honolulu residents has their own opinions. See some of the comments.

The Mayor cannot legally censor or delete the public’s comments:

What do you think?


  The City and County of Honolulu City Council adopted Bill 89 and Bill 85 on June 17, 2019 after many long and contentious hearings.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed Bill 89 into law on June 25, 2019. On July 3, the City Council chose not to address Bill 85 Veto.

Here is the information provided by the Department of Planning and Permitting:

 June 21, 2019

City Department of Planning and Permitting

New Regulations on Short-Term Rentals

Bill 89 CD2 was adopted by City Council on Monday, June 17. It is awaiting action by Mayor Kirk Caldwell. Its main points:

 _Allows a limited number of new Bed and Breakfast Homes (B&B) in non-resort areas under a new registration process, with annual renewal required.

 _Continues to prohibit Transient Vacation Units, or “unhosted” rentals, in non-resort areas, unless the dwelling has a Nonconforming Use Certificate (NUC).

 _Regulates hosting platforms, such as Expedia or Airbnb, requiring monthly reports to be filed with the Department of Planning and Permitting, which will share the information with City Council.

 _Makes illegal any form of advertising short-term rentals which are not in compliance with zoning regulations as provided in Bill 89. Bill 89 CD2:

The following Questions and Answers are based on the assumption that Bill 89 CD2 will shortly be enacted into law.


I own an unhosted, “whole house,” or Transient Vacation Unit. I pay taxes. Can I continue to advertise online and in the local newspaper?

Only if the dwelling has a NUC or is located in a resort district.

When will the department start enforcing the new advertising restrictions?

Beginning August 1, 2019.

What are the fines for illegal advertising?

Owners of the property involved in illegal advertising will be notified, and if the advertisement is taken down in 7 days, no fine will be imposed for a first offense. If not taken down within this deadline, fines of between $1,000 and $10,000 can be imposed for each day the advertisement remains on display.

If the management company for my property places an illegal ad, will the company get cited?

They may be cited, but Bill 89 CD2 says, “The burden of proof is on the owner of the subject real property to establish that the property is not being used as a bed and breakfast home or transient vacation unit or that the advertisement was placed without the property owner’s knowledge or consent.”


I have been operating a Bed and Breakfast Home for several years. Do I still have to obtain a registration number?

Yes, unless you have a NUC.

I only rent out my house for more than 30 days at a time. Do I need to register?


I only rent my house while my family spends 2 weeks each year visiting family on the mainland. Do I need to register? When can I register?

Registration will begin no sooner than October 1, 2020.

Why do we have to wait more than year to register?

The time is required for the Department to develop more specific procedures for implementing Bill 89 CD2, including the adoption of rules, and creating the software to help with enforcement and the registration process. If necessary, it provides time to acquire more staff and to train them.

What are the registration requirements?

There are more than a dozen requirements. Most notable:

 _Applicants must be “natural persons,” and not an organization or company

 _Applicants must have a home exemption granted under real property tax law

 _There must be insurance coverage for bed and breakfast use

 _The initial registration fee is $1,000. For annual renewals, the fee is $2,000

 _No more than 2 bedrooms can be used for visitor accommodations

 _Quiet hours must be observed between 10 pm and 8 am

 _If part of a homeowners or apartment owners association, approval by that association must be obtained

 _Neighbors within 250 feet must be given a phone number to contact to make complaints 24 hours a day

For the complete list of requirements, refer to Bill 89 CD2: 3

Are there other requirements?

Density Limit. No more than 0.5% of the total number of dwelling units in each regional development plan area (DPA) can be used as B&Bs. Here are the limits by area:

New B&Bs are not allowed in the North Shore area, based on directives of the North Shore Sustainable Communities Plan:

Condominium Limit. Up to 50% of units in a condominium building may be allowed a B&B, subject to AOAO approval.

Nontransferable. Registration numbers are not transferable to another property, nor transferable to another homeowner.

Separation Minimum. B&Bs must be at least 1,000 feet from each other. This does not apply to units in resort areas and NUCs.

Renewal Criteria. Noise and other nuisance complaints can be grounds to deny renewal requests.

For the complete list of requirements, refer to Bill 89 CD2:

How long will it take to get registered?

It is not yet determined. An online registration process is anticipated, but certain requirements will have to be verified; e.g. compliance with parking requirements.

If only a limited number of registration numbers will be given out, how can I guarantee to get one?

There is no provision for guarantees.

How will it be determined who gets a registration number?

Generally on first-come, first-served basis. If the number of requests exceeds the limit for a DPA, then a lottery will be held.

How will the lottery system work?

This will be fleshed out in the Rules. There will be a public hearing on the draft Rules before they are finalized.

I am currently operating a B&B, and do not have a NUC, so will need to register. Will I get priority in the registration process?


Can I advertise and operate a short-term rental once I register?

No. To avoid a citation, operation cannot occur until the registration process has been completed and registration number issued.


Note that DPP has not mentioned about the property tax designation to “Resort”.  It’s unclear whether it would be based only on the two bedrooms of a home.

Refer to the Department’s

Email the

Call the Department:

Advertising Restrictions: 768-8127

Registration Process: 768-8127

General Zoning Information: 768-8252

Make a complaint: 768-8127

Public Information Officer: 768-8284

Choon James has been a real estate broker for over 30 years. She can be reached at 808 293 8888 

Daniel James has been a Real Estate Associate for 5 years. He can be reached at 808 542- 5165

IMPEACH Mayor Kirk Caldwell

Download Petition here!

Not registered to vote? No Problem! REGISTER to vote here!          


Persons of contact: Choon James 808 293 8888 Kapohuolahaina Moniz Pa Dave Moskowitz 203 8898 EMAIL:

We are severely concerned with the malfeasance, misfeasance, and non-feasance behavior that have been happening at City Hall.

We have watched with horror the escalating mismanagement and runaway costs of the mismanaged and outdated Honolulu Rail Transit project. The Rail project was grossly under-estimated at $2.7 BILLION in 2006. Today, it’s escalating to $10 Billion with unknown costs. Even the Operations & Maintenance costs and ridership revenues are unknown. The Rail project is now under federal investigations. There are relentless reports of mismanagement and fiscal mishaps about the rail but Mayor Caldwell acts oblivious to them.

Consequently, core services are being undermined while our taxes and fees are escalating. GET/property taxes have increased. “Residential A” property taxes for local landlords who provide services to long-term renters have tripled, triggering rent increases. Other fees like vehicle registrations, sewer and water fees have increased. Our mainstream residents are struggling with these escalating costs of living.

The last two years had more Hawaii residents LEAVING, due mostly to “high costs of living”. We’re being priced out of our house and home.

The list of Mayor Caldwell’s arrogance, corruption, and mismanagement includes, but not limited to, the following: The independent Ethics Commission Director Mr. Chuck Totto was ousted. The former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha is on trial at the federal courts. The Mayor’s chief Corporation Counsel Donna Leong is on paid leave, related to the   Kealoha federal investigations. The city’s Prosecutor is being investigated and on paid leave.

Homelessness, crime, environmental degradation, monster homes, violations of residents’ civil rights, violations of state and US Constitution that force the city to pay for settlement awards, abuse of the Community Development Block Grants and so on. Mayor Caldwell is not responding to severe land-use and planning concerns relating to, but not limited to, the Ala Moana Regional Beach Park, the Sherwood Forest Beach Park in Waimanalo. The cries of residents to have basic clean and well-managed beach parks and other public facilities in ALL parts of Oahu are ignored.

Every day, we see the Mayor’s bad behavior and we feel angry but helpless. We see our beloved island worsening. We see ourselves being forced to pay the price for his bad management and bad decisions.

We cannot afford to give Mayor Caldwell any more time to further destroy our island and price us out of our homes and island.

Today, we’re taking a stand and rising up. We need and want new leadership of honesty and transparency and putting RESIDENTS FIRST!

We want fairness, even application of the law and city’s funds across Oahu.

We want to do away with political “pay to play” games at the taxpayers’ expense.

We want our neighborhoods to be clean and safe.

 We want to protect Oahu’s overarching environment, sustainability, safety, and prosperity for our children and their future.  

We want to live in our beautiful island and not be priced out!

We want to take our government back!!!

Please kokua. Stand up and be counted! Please sign the petition to impeach Mayor Caldwell to send him a message that we’re not happy with the direction Oahu is heading! Mahalo!