State / In Brief

The Associated Press

Oahu lawmaker urges visitor pledge

HONOLULU — A Honolulu city councilor says she wants visitors to take a pledge to respect and help protect the island’s natural resources.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Councilwoman Kymberly Pine wants tourists to Oahu to sign a form with a pledge to be environmentally responsible and culturally sensitive during visits.

Pine has proposed a bill to enlist the Office of Economic Development or another city agency to help establish the Keep Hawaii Hawaii program.

A city council committee is expected to discuss the proposal at an Oct. 22 meeting.

Pine says the program could work with the visitor industry to promote its environmental goals.

Similar pledge programs have been established in Hawaii and Kauai counties, but Pine’s program would be the first in state to coordinate with a local government agency.


Power company plans to drill well

HILO — Puna Geothermal Venture says it plans to begin drilling a new geothermal production well on Hawaii Island as part of its recovery from the Kilauea volcano eruption.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Monday that the energy company expects to begin drilling its Kapoho State 18 well Wednesday.

The company alerted community members in a letter earlier this month that the work is expected to be completed by mid-January.

Officials say the work is part of a resumption of operations after wells were isolated by lava during the eruption that began in May 2018.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources in August approved permits for two new company wells, including the Kapoho State 18 well with an expected depth of about 5,000 feet.


Report: Most debris is from elsewhere

HONOLULU — Hawaii researchers have found that majority of plastic marine debris washing up on its shores is from abroad.

The Star-Advertiser reports that the study conducted at Hawaii Pacific University revealed that pollution from north and east island beaches is washing ashore where there are fewer residents and tourists.

Researchers say it is possible the debris swept in from as far as 3,000 miles away from the coasts of Asia, as well as the Americas.

Researchers say more than 4,600 pieces of plastic debris were collected for the study from three sea surface areas, three seafloor dive sites and 11 shorelines.

Researchers say based on weathering and chemical composition the debris could tell experts where it came from and how it got to island shores.


Honolulu weighs B&B property tax

HONOLULU — A bill being considered in Honolulu would create a new property tax category for homeowners operating bed-and-breakfast establishments.

The Honolulu City Council approved the first reading of the bill last week, The Star-Advertiser reported. If passed, the bill could be in effect by July 1.

The Budget Committee could take up the bill this month, but would not establish a rate for the new category.

Tax rates for each category are determined by the City Council each June, officials said. The proposed category could fall somewhere between the standard residential category and the hotel-resort category.

The standard residential category is currently $3.50 for every $1,000 of assessed value, city officials said. The hotel-resort category just increased by $1 this year to $13.90 for every $1,000 of assessed value.

Currently, those with nonconforming use certificates and operating in residential districts must pay the standard residential rates.

Under the proposal, those operating under nonconforming use permits would be required to pay the hotel-resort rate, officials said.

People operating transient or whole-home vacation rentals without a host would also be taxed at the hotel-resort rate under the bill.

“It’s the underlying zoning that determines how it gets classified,” said Gary Kurokawa, Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s chief of staff.