Three deaths in less than two years at “Spitting Caves” in East Oahu has one lawmaker calling for the popular cliff-diving spot to be off-limits.
On Saturday, a 21 year man from Washington State drowned in the area, which is not manned by lifeguards.
“We have no knowledge if he jumped,” said Ocean Safety Lt. Charles Olivera. “His friend says he didn’t.”
Olivera says Ocean Safety and the Honolulu Fire Department responded to Saturday’s rescue, and warned of the dangers at the popular Portlock ocean attraction.
“You go down at the rocks there, and there’s a ledge,” said Lt. Olivera. “When the waves come in, and you’re not ready for it, the waves will knock you off the ledge.”
Several memorials do dot the rocks at Spitting Caves.
“It’s inexcusable the way government has handled this very very dangerous and very very beautiful place,” said Representative Gene Ward.
Representative Ward, who represents Hawaii Kai and Kalama Valley, says he wants the city to start fining anyone caught cliff-jumping.
“This was a preventable drowning,” said Rep. Ward. “It was a wasted life. I’m sorry, I feel very strongly about this. For the last 10 months I’ve worked with the city and county, parks and rec, even up to the mayor’s office.”
Ward says he’s trying to get the city to put up “No Jumping” signs.
“Now we have to go out to and get some kind of ordinance passed to do it,” said Rep. Ward. “So we wasted a year and wasted a life. No joke. We wasted a life. It should not have happened.”
KHON reached out to Parks and Recreation, Honolulu City Councilman Trevor Ozawa, and the mayor’s office to check if they are working with Ward on the issue.
Parks and Recreation spokesman Jon Hennington, says the department is looking into the matter.
Francis Choe, senior advisor to Councilman Ozawa, says Ward has not reached out to Ozawa, but they are aware of the issue.
KHON has not yet received a response from the mayor’s office.
“You can’t overly manage people’s behavior, but you can encourage them not to stupid things and we don’t do that,” said Rep. Ward.
Power-generation paradigm must change
By Gene Ward
More than 40 elected officials have called for creating a cooperative instead of a HECO or NextEra — but we should be able to get more than just a shot across the bow to negotiate a better deal with NextEra; we should be calling for a new power-generation model and not just a new ownership model.
First and foremost, ownership models or who owns the utility doesn’t determine electricity rates; costs primarily determine that.
If our priority in Hawaii is to lower rates for consumers, publicly owned or municipal cooperative utilities have shown negligible or little cost savings to rate payers.
Take for example the existing electrical utility cooperative on Kauai. It has been operating for more than 10 years and its rates are still 60 percent higher than on Oahu, or about 55 cents per kilowatt hour, and is likely the most expensive in the nation. Whoever owns the utilities will continue to pay Hawaii’s high cost of production, so assuming that a cooperative will lower rates appears naive at this stage.
Second, forming a cooperative to purchase HECO is not going to be cheap. This fact was conveniently overlooked by legislators promoting a cooperative to buy out HECO rather than NextEra.
Even if the Legislature condemns the utility as being in the “public interest,” it still must be purchased at “fair market value,” which now stands at $4.3 billion. The state or city making such a large purchase alongside the $6 billion rail project just doesn’t seem feasible.
Third, and most important, it is the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and not who owns the utility that is the key to the future of power generation in Hawaii. The PUC controls HECO and heretofore has taken a rather hands-off approach that has not worked to the advantage of ratepayers.
Case in point: the PUC allowed fuel and other costs to be passed through to consumers and it never gave directives or incentives for HECO to contain or reduce costs.
A change in PUC thinking could change all this. We must begin to think long-range to when centralized power grids and distribution lines will be a thing of the past. Think IBM mainframe computers versus PCs, and that’s exactly where we are at a crossroads today, except the PUC is still thinking centralized power “mainframe” rather than phasing in a decentralized “PC.”
The PUC needs to tell HECO or a NextEra they are backup electricity producers, not primary producers, and must go all out to encourage rooftop solar, wind, wave energy and biofuels, etc., or get into these businesses themselves.
In short, consumers must be enfranchised to become producers if rates in Hawaii are ever to plummet.
If this new paradigm is not eventually adopted, we will see more and more people going off the grid, as is already happening, and two of HECO’s biggest customers in the armed forces are signaling they are about to do the same.
It is better that we dismantle the mainframe power-generation model now, and before those who will be left on the grid will have to pay even more than an arm and a leg that they are paying now.
In summary, let’s forget about who owns the utility. The Legislature designs its franchise agreement and the PUC controls it.
This is the formula for lower rates, but it has to be guided by a new way of thinking, not a new type of ownership.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Contact: Rep. Gene Ward 808-586-6420/808-781-9931
WARD TO HOST BEER SUMMIT ON MAUNA KEA
OHA Trustee Apo to Address the Sacred as well Scientific Side of the TMT Controversy
Representative Ward (R-Hawaii Kai – Kalama Valley) hosts Monthly Beer Summits on the first Thursday of every month at Kona Brewing Company in the Koko Marina Shopping Center in Hawaii Kai.
This month’s subject is the TMT controversy and the guest speaker is OHA Trustee Peter Apo who wrote a recent article bemoaning both sides of the TMT controversy. Though he has not taken the controversy out of the issue, he has tried to make each side understand the other.
This informal monthly gathering is open to the public, and no food or drink purchases required. This summit promises to be the latest on the TMT controversy by a noted Hawaiian lawmaker who earlier served with Rep. Ward in the State House.
WHAT: Beer Summit on the Thirty Meter Telescope Controversy
WHEN: Thursday, July 2, 2015 at 5:30 pm
WHERE: Kona Brewery at Koko Marina Shopping Center
SPEAKER: Peter Apo, OHA Trustee
April 29, 2015
By Ron Mizutani
Imagine a child having the time of his life, running wild on a white sandy beach, but then suddenly falling to his knees in excruciating pain.
Now imagine the source of that pain: a rusty old nail.
Never mind imagining. Sadly, it is a scenario that’s happened before along scenic Ka Iwi coastline in East Honolulu.
“Too many people are leaving their trash behind and wreaking havoc on what is otherwise a beautiful stretch of coastline,” says state Rep. Gene Ward of Hawaii Kai. “And many people are leaving behind dangerous trash. Some people are burning big pallets and leaving behind the nails from those pallets on the sand. I’ve heard many horror stories of young kids stepping on nails, and that’s unacceptable!”
It’s one of many reasons that Ward has hosted an annual beach cleanup near Alan Davis Beach. This year marked the seventh community-based event.
“Every year, in celebration of Earth Day, my office organizes a beach cleanup,” explains Ward. “This year we had more than 50 people combing the sand and cleaning the area of nails, plywood, pallets and broken beer bottles. We had a great turnout!”
In addition to Boy Scouts from Troop 101, Ward says volunteers from the Peace Corps, Kaiser High School and constituents from his district took part in the daylong event.
“We had a new group that joined us this year called 808 Clean Ups,” says an excited Ward. “The man leading that group (Michael David Loftin) is doing a great job making a difference and partnering with communities. I wish we could have a cleanup like this once a month!”
Gloves and trash bags were provided. Volunteers were encouraged to bring their own magnets to pick up nails that often are hidden in the sand. The final numbers are mind-boggling.
“This year we collected 432 pounds of rusty nails, burned crates and wood, glass bottles and plastic,” says Ward. “Yes, there’s a lot of stuff being left out there! Hopefully, we left the beach so clean that the next party that goes to the beach will think twice about what they’re doing and clean up after themselves.”
Clearly this is a “local” problem, not a tourist problem.
The battle to keep Ka Iwi coastline free of development has gone on for decades. There have been numerous ideas introduced through the years, including proposals to build hotels and resort-style cabins overlooking the ocean. There even was a plan to create a golf academy on the precious land.
None has come to fruition. The good fight has been won — so far — but the battle to keep the area free of garbage and dangerous debris continues.
Ward says the state Department of Land and Natural Resources doesn’t have the staff or officers to constantly monitor this area and enforce laws that are in place, so it is imperative that the community does its part.
“As we progress and continue to keep the Ka Iwi coastline undeveloped and the land mauka pristine, there is still one glaring issue that we have not properly addressed — and that’s trash that we’re leaving behind,” says a concerned Ward.
“It is one of the last pristine areas on Oahu, and we have to take care of it. We need to make sure that this coastline stays the way it is with no housing and no development. It’s about preservation, but it’s also about beautification.”
And it’s also about keeping the area safe and clean for our keiki and the next generation. No one should have to worry about stepping on an old rusty nail.
Rep. Ward is right. That’s unacceptable, and that’s something we can control.