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Mayor Kirk Caldwell took action on three bills yesterday by signing them all into law. The Honolulu City Council has been working extremely hard under difficult and challenging circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic. These bills were passed by the City Council on September 2.


Bill 42, CD2 – Relating to building permit applications. The bill is limited to only private restrictions on the number of homes allowed on one property, and the yard (setback) for dwellings. It also exempts “master tract” subdivision projects.

Bill 48, CD1 – Relating to permits required.

“I want to thank Council Chair Ikaika Anderson for shepherding this bill through," said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. "It elevates the exemption threshold of home repairs from $1,000 to $5,000. This means that simple renovation work, such as making bathrooms ADA-compliant by adding grab bars, better lighting and wider doorways, can be done quickly, without a building permit. The last time this exemption level was raised was more than 25 years ago, creating a big gap between the intent of this provision and today’s cost of construction. By elevating the exemption threshold for modest repairs, construction work – good work for small contractors and DIY homeowners -- is expedited, and frees DPP staff to concentrate on more complex projects. I am pleased to sign this bill today.”


Bill 50, FD1, CD1 – Relating to short-term rentals.

“I want to thank Councilmember Ron Menor for introducing this measure," Mayor Caldwell said. This bill moves the registration process for Bed and Breakfast homes and platforms from October 1, 2020, to April 30, 2021. Council Chair Emeritus Menor was astute enough to realize that as we are deep within this pandemic era and it would be premature to open up the inventory of B&B homes. The delay of requiring registration of short-term rental platforms, like Airbnb and HomeAway, is also prudent, as some members of our community are calling this pandemic an opportunity to reexamine our goals for the tourism industry. This small delay allows time to have this discussion before we make new commitments to the future.”


“I am grateful that the Mayor is signing this measure into law because it will address the concerns of many residents who would object to allowing visitors to stay in new bed and breakfast lodgings in residential neighborhoods where they could contribute to the spread of the coronavirus in our communities," said Council Chair Emeritus Ron Menor. "The City’s efforts should focus on strengthening enforcement with respect to the thousands of illegal vacation rentals that continue to operate, instead of the registration of new short-term rentals. Moreover, delaying the issuance of registrations for new bed and breakfast accommodations will give the new Mayor and future City Council time to assess the future course and direction of our tourism market and the impact of vacation rentals within that market.”


Federal & State Assessments of Facility Near Completion


Twelve deaths among residents of the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo have been confirmed and added to the state’s reported COVID-19 related deaths today. These deaths include 11 men and one (1) woman, all in the 70 to 80-year-old age group and with underlying health conditions. Ten of the residents passed away at the home and two others were hospitalized. Reporting on these deaths was delayed due to pending medical reports required for verification and classification of deaths as COVID-19.

In total, there are now 15 deaths confirmed by the State among residents of the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans home. Three separate assessments into the infections and deaths at the facility were initiated and are completed or near completion. One was conducted by a team from the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA), a second by the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), and a third, an unannounced inspection of infection control measures was conducted by the DOH Office of Health Care Assurance (OHCA).

The findings and recommendations in the two assessments conducted by the VA and the Incident Command Medical Support Team (HI-EMA, ESF-8) have been transmitted to the Yukio Okutsu Veterans Home and are being prepared for release. It is expected these reports will be ready soon. The DOH/OHCA unannounced inspection report is being completed today and will be transmitted to the facility before being shared with the public.

An additional death from COVID-19, unrelated to the home, is also being reported today. A 70 to 79-year-old O‘ahu man, with underlying health conditions, who had been hospitalized at the time of his death. This brings the cumulative total of COVID-19 related deaths to 120.


Nonprofit organizations, the private sector and government have joined together to launch a program using federal CARES Act funding that will support Hawai‘i’s economy by providing businesses with up to 650 workers who have been displaced in the current economic crisis.


The economic stimulus program is supported by $10 million in federal CARES Act funding that was secured with the help of Hawai‘i’s Congressional delegation and disbursed locally through an appropriation by the Hawai‘i State Legislature.


“We are grateful to all those who helped Hawai‘i obtain these federal funds and build an innovative program that supports our local businesses and keeps Hawai‘i residents employed,” said Gov. David Ige. “This is a great example of how we can pull together during difficult times and rise to the challenges facing our economy from the pandemic.”


The Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT) worked with all the partners to pull the program together. DBEDT contracted with Kupu, a conservation and youth education nonprofit, and Economic Development Alliance of Hawaiʻi (EDAH), an economic development nonprofit, to implement this workforce development initiative. There will be two tracks to this program: “Kupu ‘Āina Corps” run by Kupu and “Aloha Connects Innovation” run by EDAH.


The program will match displaced workers with companies in emerging industries and Aloha+ Challenge sectors such as conservation, renewable energy, agriculture, creative arts, aerospace, entrepreneurship, and STEM fields. The Aloha+ Challenge is a statewide commitment to achieve Hawai‘i’s sustainability goals, and locally driven framework to implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


The initiative, originally envisioned by Omar Sultan of Sultan Ventures, aims to diversify and strengthen Hawai‘i’s economy by building a scalable workforce to support the growth of emerging and resilient non-tourism industries. The program will create internship opportunities to provide temporary employment required due to economic injury caused by COVID-19 related business closures, while meaningfully diversifying and strengthening Hawai‘i’s economy

“We are excited to create some options for those who are currently unemployed and want to seek a different career path,” said Kupu CEO John Leong. “These positions will provide on-the-job experience, healthcare, and relevant educational or training opportunities for upward mobility beyond the first phase. The skills learned here will be essential tools for a resilient Hawai‘i.”

The programs’ positions will offer:

  • 2-1/2 to 3 months of on-the-job training (to December 15)

  • Wages starting at $13-$15 an hour

  • Health care benefits

  • Introduction and mentoring within the emerging, innovation sectors

  • Workforce training

  • Ideally, after the on-the-job training, individuals will be hired at the sites they are placed at or within the network of their organization, pursue careers in the emerging, innovation sector, or continue with higher education

Eligible Participants:

  • Displaced workers

  • Recent college graduates

  • Recent high school graduates

Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, many tourism-related jobs will likely not be available through 2020. Hawai‘i’s heavy reliance on tourism means that the local economy will lag behind the national pace of the recovery process, according to DBEDT’s Research and Economic Analysis Division.


“This program proactively and intentionally supports companies while providing job opportunities that are not tourism dependent,” said Rich Wacker, president & CEO of American Savings Bank, who, along with other members of the Hawai‘i Business Roundtable, saw the need for such an initiative.


EDAH Chair, Jeanne Skog added, “These emerging industries represent the future of economic growth for Hawai‘i. This program will provide displaced workers and recent graduates with opportunities to do critical work for our state, diversify their skillset, and provide organizations and companies a resource for revival. This program provides an opportunity for faster recovery and allows us to create a more diverse and resilient economy.”

Interested participant applicants and companies interested in hosting participants can apply for the innovation track through Economic Development Alliance of Hawai‘i’s website at https://www.edahawaii.org/ and the conservation track through Kupu’s website at https://www.kupuhawaii.org/ainainnovation/

About the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT)

DBEDT is Hawai‘i’s resource center for economic and statistical data, business development opportunities, energy and conservation information, and foreign trade advantages. DBEDT’s mission is to achieve a Hawai‘i economy that embraces innovation and is globally competitive, dynamic and productive, providing opportunities for all Hawai‘i ’s citizens. Through its attached agencies, the department fosters planned community development, creates affordable workforce housing units in high-quality living environments, and promotes innovation sector job growth.

About Kupu

Established in 2007 as a Honolulu-based 501(c)3 non-profit, Kupu empowers future generations to create a more sustainable Hawai‘i. The organization provides hands-on training and national service programs that educate and mentor youth to become stewards of culture and environment. Kupu has trained more than 4,000 youth in conservation, sustainability and environmental education. These young adults have supported Kupu partners to provide more than 3 million hours of service, which has culminated in planting over 1 million native plants and removing over 100,000 acres of invasive species. For their service, Kupu has presented close to $7 million in education awards to support the continued growth of its members. To date, Kupu has generated more than $150 million in economic benefits to the state of Hawai‘i. For more information, follow Kupu on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube, or visit kupuhawaii.org.

About EDAH

The Economic Development Alliance of Hawaii (EDAH) is a 501(c)(3) Hawaii Corporation. Incorporated in 1998, the Alliance was established to support the initiative of economic development and diversification across the Hawaiian Islands. Promoting economic growth has been the cornerstone mission of Economic Development Association of Hawaii. EDAH is a consortium of organizations with more than 100 years of collective experience. Members represent the business and economic interests of O‘ahu, Maui, Hawai‘i, Kaua‘i, Moloka‘i and Lānaʻi. For more information visit https://www.edahawaii.org/

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