Revitalizing Hilo

The benefits of delaying development

A note to Sylvia Dahlby: Your point is about a bottom line based on numbers on an economic spread sheet (“No Time Like The Present To Revitalize Hilo,” July 18). I have a different take on it from a resident/builder’s perspective.

Considering many of the proposed hundreds of jobs the Thirty Meter Telescope would have created would have largely gone to mainland or European technicians and probably construction crews from other islands, it would have caused a strange short-lived sort of gentrification, driving up living costs, then causing a backlog of angry, entitled outsiders reaching in to grab limited resources in a time of true crisis.

To reiterate, if things had gone on as scheduled with the building of a new telescope up on sacred Mauna a Wakae, many TMT employees would have swooped in and bought up land in Kapoho and Leilani and lost everything in short order and been part of the rush of people looking for new housing in an area that just lost a good deal of its rental properties. 

Also please look at the facts. Even the mountains that aren’t erupting are shifting. New land gashes can be seen on the high overhead slopes above Pohaku as well as various places that have been stable for decades like the Pali that precedes Pahala just past the Kau desert.

While dumping money into places like Banyan Drive on some level seems like a no-brainer because it is beautiful down there, it is also a prime flood zone and if we have learned anything from Leilani it is don’t build anything too costly in disaster-prone areas. (It would be a great area for an extended open market though!)

I would hazard a guess that quite a few of the TMT technicians are silently thanking the TMT protesters who forced a delay and gave the Swiss et al. a more realistic picture of what it means to park it in a very active volcanic environment. Developing new infrastructure is great and inevitable but let’s be akamai.

While the new rotary in Pahoa is useful and beautiful, it got green-lighted immediately after lava encroached by a mere hundreds of yards and it is now more or less a rotary to nowhere (until of course developers eventually move northward into Wa Wa.)

Considering the big spotlight that is currently on Puna Geothermal, as it is literally the last man standing in an area locals repeatedly warned would be a potentially destabilizing force to their slice of paradise, indefinite delays in any development in kapu zones might be for the best. 

— Sam Cole, Kurtistown

Big Island Ghost Town

How to promote life in a volcano zone

Isn’t the entire Hawaiian island a volcano (“Big Island: Last Time Hawaii Had Lava Refugees, It Built A Ghost Town,” July 20)? Maybe the taxpayers could declare the island “move at your own risk” habitat.

The state government could start promoting the state as “Paradise and Hell Commingle Here.”

What good old boy buddy got the contract to build the half-ass infrastructure? Nice windfall for someone.

— Paul Gannon, Duarte, California

Tax Breaks For Military

Bill sends wrong message to community

I am a third-generation Hawaii resident and graduate student at Hawaii Pacific University. I took a course in government policy, in which I learned that policies are ideally written to encourage or restrict human behavior. Many policies, however, have unpredictable outcomes and have the potential to cause unintentional harmful results.

I understand that City Council Bill 91 is intended to give a small financial break to the military for their service, but passing this bill sends the wrong message to Hawaii residents (“Council OKs Property Tax Break For Active-Duty Military Personnel,” July 11).

The message is that Native Hawaiians, kamaaina and civilians have to carry the tax burden and contribute, while the military does not. This narrative will increase tensions between the military and locals, and create a larger divide.

It is important to defend our country at large but at home, we are all a part of this island community regardless of position. As our community leader, it is up to our elected officials such as Mayor Kirk Caldwell to keep us united to create a stronger more functional island state.

If the military does want to purchase land here, they should want to contribute to the community that they serve and are a part of by paying the taxes our residents pay.

— Maisa Leilani Thayer, Kaneohe

Hanabusa Vs. Ige

How to choose a politician

The leadership issue is a back-burner question/issue/concern for me (“Lawyer Vs. Engineer: Governor’s Race A Battle Of Leadership Styles,” July 23).

In my opinion, the top characteristics I look for in choosing a politician who’s running for political office are:

Transparency — Ige: Check.

Moral compass or no sweetheart dealings — Ige: Check

Seems to have a soul — Ige: Check

Not a lawyer — Ige: Check.

— Nancy Manali-Leonardo, Waikiki

Write a letter to Civil Beat. Send to and put Letter in the subject line. 200 words max. You need to use your name and city and include a contact phone for verification purposes. The opinions and information expressed in letters are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.