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State briefs for April 20

Ige urges lawmakers to revive water rights bill

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii’s governor has urged state lawmakers to support a bill to change land lease requirements that could affect water rights.

Democratic Gov. David Ige sent a letter to state legislative leaders asking them to resurrect a bill that would give public water users more time to meet long-term lease requirements.

Ige’s letter Thursday to Senate President Ron Kouchi and House Speaker Scott Saiki included a memo outlining impacts on farming, ranching and clean energy projects if HB 1326 is not passed and permit holders lose access to public water after this year.

Continued water use for revocable permit holders is not ensured if the bill does not pass, according to the memo by administrative director Ford Fuchigami.

“If you believe that the continued holdover of revocable water permits is in the public interest, I recommend that we urge the Legislature to act to avoid the possible adverse ramifications,” Fuchigami wrote.

Fuchigami also outlined impacts on hydroelectric plants on Kauai and the Big Island and Honolulu real estate company Alexander & Baldwin. Opponents of the measure say the true focus of the bill is Alexander & Baldwin, which could owe Mahi Pono as much as $62 million if sufficient water is not available for central Maui land that the farming company purchased from the real estate firm.

Council passes bill to slow growth of monster houses

HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii city council has passed a bill to restrict the size of so-called monster houses.

The Honolulu City Council passed a bill Wednesday that sets maximum density for detached dwellings.

Homes cannot have a floor area ratio of 0.7, meaning a floor area greater than 70% of a house lot’s size. Houses with floor area ratios greater than 0.6 would need to be owner-occupied and meet additional rules.

Those rules include side and rear yards of 8 feet and temporary certificates of occupancy for up to a year, during which time the city’s Department of Planning and Permitting could inspect the house.

Monster houses go up quickly, often defy city building rules and dwarf other homes in older residential neighborhoods. Critics say the structures overburden street parking and infrastructure and are frequently used as illegal rentals, vacation homes or other nonconforming businesses.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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