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February 24 - Nine units with 35 firefighters responded to the blaze at a two-story Kaimuki home on 4050 Iwalani Place at approximately 11:06 p.m. February 23.  When firefighters arrived, they observed smoke and flames emerging from the front of the home.  The home was unoccupied and under construction at the time.  The blaze was put out just after midnight and the cause is currently under investigation. [Star-Advertiser]

February 23 - The Neighborhood Board Commission has published the 2017 list of candidates at its website. A certified list will be available no later than March 6. [Honolulu.Gov/NCO]

February 22 - Pacific Business News runs article on top AirBNB rentals in Hawaii and how much revenue they generate.  "In terms of revenue, the highest-performing unit was a 10-bedroom oceanfront property in Kuliouou that sleeps 25 and brings in estimated annual revenue of $461,621, with an average daily rate of $2,308. The Honolulu estate includes a main house, a studio, a two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit and a two-bedroom cabana. The property is listed by Hawaii Beach Homes, a boutique vacation rental company." "The listing with the highest average daily rate is a six-bedroom oceanfront house in Portlock that commands $3,272 per night, on average, according to the Airdna data. That house is listed by Elite Vacation Rentals, a division of the residential real estate firm Elite Pacific Properties." [PBN]

On a sidenote, with the exception of less than 900 grandfathered units operating before 1986, Honolulu law does not permit short-term rentals housing in residential districts.  As Kailua residents note, however, the law has been poorly enforced due to a lack of county staffing. [Hawaii News Now - archive]

February 22 - Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) recently sent out letters to customers with pending net metering solar requests.  Customers were asked to pay large sums of money for the privilege of connection to the grid.  Letters sent to customers and obtained by KHON requested amounts ranging from several thousand to as much as $26,000.  Although letters were sent statewide, areas with high saturation rates such as Makaha and East Oahu received a greater proportion. The letters are seen by some as an attempt to move customers from the net metering plan to other more recent solar options. [KHON]

February 19 - The State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) was out at Maunalua Bay advising watergoers of rules and regulations pertaining to the area.  They will also hold a community Q and A session on Saturday, February 25 from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. at Koko Head Elementary School. [KHON]

February 19 - A faulty circuit breaker was determined to be the cause of a fire at the Coast Guard building in Wailupe on February 18.  It took firefighters 15 minutes to bring the fire under control at the unoccupied building. [Star-Advertiser - library card required]

February 14 - Randall Roth at Hawaii Free Press weighs in on the Department of Education (DOE) treatment of former award-winning Kaiser Principal John Sosa.  [Hawaii Free Press]

February 13 - A drainpipe located at the corner of 18th Avenue and Maunaloa Avenue has become a source of frustration for some Kaimuki residents.  They want the City to clear it: some residents sustained thousands of dollars of damage from Saturday's flash flood.  The City says the backlog is caused by a private residence and the clog is on private property. [HNN]

February 13 - A power outage affected 142 Hawaiian Electric Co. customers on Kapaia Street in Hawaii Kai from 10:25 a.m. to 1:07 p.m. [Star-Advertiser - library card required]

February 12 - Sen. Stanley Chang (D, Hawaii Kai, Kuliouou, Niu Valley, Aina Haina, Waialae-Kahala, Diamond Head) has proposed a bill this session, SB 1121, to close the loophole which allows developers to circumvent Hawaii's solar water heater law. [Star-Advertiser - library card required]

February 11 - A flash flood with high winds wreaked havoc on the islands, dropping massive amounts of rain over a short period.  The fire department was kept busy with over 30 calls, including one that downed a tent at Kapiolani Community College and injured three people. [HNN]

February 11 - A new law effective immediately prohibits commercial tour stops between Makapu'u and Kailua. [KHON]

Feb 9 - State lawmakers are considering bills to create official campgrounds for the homeless in Honolulu. The Senate Human Services Committee on Wednesday gave tentative approval to Senate Bill 1243, which would authorize the state to use part of Sand Island State Recreation Area and to seek out an unspecified property in Hawaii Kai as homeless campsites.  Prior to the recommendation of Hawaii Kai as a homeless safe haven, Mike Goodman, director of the Hawaii Kai Homeless Task Force, voiced favor of the campsite idea and said he drafted an early version of the bill.   [Star-Advertiser]

Feb 6 - Oahu housing inventory continues to shrink in January.  The median sales price for a single-family home in East Oahu was $1.2 million in January, up 41 percent from the same month last year. [HNN]

Feb 6- KHON produced a multi-part exposé on the mysterious 2013 investigation of John Sosa, former award-winning Kaiser HS Principal.  No charges were ever brought against him, nor others seemingly under investigation, such as Kaiser Football Coach Rich Miano or Athletic Trainer Chad Ikei.  Kathryn Matayoshi, departing School Superintendent, signed off on the investigation and further referred it to the Attorney General which declined to pursue action.  To date, no apology has been offered to any of the affected parties. [KHON] [KHON]

Feb 6 - Strong winds hindered extinguishing of a brush fire that broke out near Sandy Beach. The fire initially started at about 12:30 p.m. Saturday near Sandy Beach on the mauka side of Kalanianaole Highway, impeding traffic in the Koko Villas neighborhood and forcing the evacuation of two dozen animals from Koko Head Equestrian Center. About 60 firefighters brought the 60-acre blaze under control by 3:46 p.m. Saturday, and firefighters stayed overnight to monitor the area, Jenkins said. [Star-Advertiser, library card required]

Feb 6 - The Star-Advertiser elaborates on House Bill 1595 proposed by Rep. Gene Ward of Hawaii Kai.  The bill would fine public urinators $2,500 or give offenders the option of completing court-approved drug or alcohol treatment or mental health treatment programs in lieu of paying the fines. [Star-Advertiser, library card required]

Feb 5 - Heavy winds caused widespread outages throughout Hawaii Kai and the rest of Oahu. A number of residents also lost power during the broadcast of Super Bowl LI [KHON]

February 3 - Representative Gene Ward seeks bill to create "urine-free zones." Proposed House Bill 1595 would make it illegal to go to the bathroom on:(1) Public playgrounds and playground equipment (2) Public bus stops (3) Public park and ride facilities (4)Public parking garages, including structures and stairwells. [HNN]

February 2 - Hanauma Bay was closed Wednesday, February 1 due to high surf and was reopened on Thursday. [Star-Advertiser]

February 1 - An upheaval ousting State Rep. Beth Fukumoto (R-Mililani) from the post of House Minority Leader has her asking constituents to consider her departure from the Republican Party.   In her place, Rep. Andria Tupola, (R-Leeward Oahu) was named House Minority Leader. Rep. Gene Ward, (R- Hawaii Kai, Kalama Valley) was named Minority Floor Leader. [KHON]

January 31 - Denby Fawcett offers an op-ed on the expected February sweep of homeless on Diamond Head.  Currently, 50-70 people are estimated to be living on the slopes. [Civil Beat]

January 31 - Last week's water main break and subsequent highway closure has the Board of Water Supply reassessing and analyzing the public feedback process. [KHON]

Jan 21 through Jan 25 - Water main break causes closure of Kalanianaole

On Saturday, January 21, 2017 at about 4:45 a.m., a 24-inch water main break occurred before the intersection of Kalanianaole Highway and Ainakoa drive: near the end of the H-1 freeway. From approximately 6:00 am, Kalananaole Highway Eastbound (EB) was closed on Saturday. At approximately 11pm, one lane was reopened. The lane remained open throughout Sunday.

On Monday, one lane remained open throughout the day, with a second lane being opened from 3pm through the evening rush hour.  On Tuesday, the second lane opened at 2pm and remained open until 9pm.  The Department of Transportation also announced that the roads would be fully opened by noon on Wednesday.   As it turns out, all lanes were restored by 4:20 am. Previously, it was estimated to remain closed until Thursday.

The removal of a defunct water main at the site of the leak increased delays to the repair.  During the period of road closure, all other scheduled roadwork for East Oahu through Waimanalo was postponed.

The closure of Kalanianaole adversely affected businesses for the four days.  Costco and other retailers were unusually empty over the weekend, and service-oriented businesses were rescheduling clients for alternate days.

Jan 24 - Hawaii Prep World & the Star-Advertiser feature Kaiser H.S. athlete Andrew Kaufusi :his athleticism and academics. Kaufusi has committed to Azusa Pacific which has offered him a full scholarship. [Hawaii Prep World]

Jan 21 - High winds affect East Oahu.  Power outages and structural damage including a roof collapse in Aina Haina were reported. [KITV] [KHON]


goakamai googlemapsThen came dreaded Monday

On Saturday, after the water main broke at Ainakoa and Kalanianaole, our family received a text from a relative informing us of the blocked highway.  We were in Hawaii Kai at the time.  Although we were to have met others at 2pm in Kahala, we cancelled those plans when it became clear the road was not likely to be reopened that day.  On Sunday we stayed home.

Then came dreaded Monday, when one of us had to go to town to work and another of us had to pick up a child just on the other side of the blockage, in the Kahala area.  Going over was apparently not an issue. Traveling with my daughter in the morning carpool lane, my husband was able to get through Westbound traffic with ease.  I was home dreading picking her up at 3:30pm however.

At 3pm, while I was waiting outside her school I decided to take a walk around the Kahala Mall area.  The roads did not seem overly congested, but I also noticed a black SUV on the road that had not moved in the 5 minutes I had been observing.  Armed with just two apps, GoAkamai and Google Maps, I planned my return trip.  

Go Akamai is a lightweight app that takes up few resources but provides valuable updated information.  As I was viewing it at around 3:10pm, the traffic alert message that the second lane to Hawaii Kai was opened had already been posted.

Google Maps is a good source of instant road traffic information (including on side streets), but a poor one for road alerts or shutdowns.  The app uses GPS on users' phones to track speed.  It can tell you when cars are stuck in traffic, but can't tell you when there are no cars on the road due to an accident or reroute.

Combining the strengths of both apps, I mapped out a plan that had me backtrack a few roads before reentering at Waialae Avenue.  As it turns out, a friend later texted me that her route took over an hour to get to Ainakoa and Kalanianaole; my route took 15 minutes.

Ultimately, I returned home within 5 minutes of the usual commute time on Monday.  After we cleared the bottleneck, it was smooth sailing through the rest of East Oahu.  My husband also lucked out on the commute solely by using GoAkamai and traveling when traffic seemed lightest.  He stayed on H1 all the way until it changed to Kalanianaole.  He later commented that it was one of the lightest traffic days he's had -- mostly because everyone else left work early in anticipation of a backlog.

Today, I had the "privilege" of making a morning commute from Kahala to Hawaii Kai at around 8:30 am.  Because there is only one lane open in the morning, it took an extra 20 minutes over the usual commute.  Overall, our experience so far with the BWS repair has been inconvenient but not life-altering.  Hang in there everyone.  Just a few days more. . .