Category Archives: environment

Company proposes reef burials off Hawaii Kai

A company is proposing to build artificial reefs in two locations on Oahu using human remains encased in balls of concrete.

Hawaii Memorial Reefs is scheduled to present its proposal to the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board at its regular meeting tonight, Tuesday evening, July 26.

According to the meeting agenda:

A proposed seven-acre artificial reef in Maunalua Bay (“Paradise Reef”) would provide an alternative to traditional burial by incorporating cremated remains into concrete “reef balls” to serve as memorials and reef-building materials – Richard Financ, www.HawaiiMemorialReefs.com

The company is targeting Maunaloa Bay off Hawaii Kai, and another reef at Ko ‘Olina, according to its website.

There is no indication whether the company has obtained or applied for state permission to utilize these reef areas for commercial purposes.

Already, the proposal has drawn opposition from two organizations.

In written testimony, Livable Hawai‘i Kai Hui said the burial reefs are inappropriate in the heavily-used waters of Maunaloa Bay.

Traditional Hawaiian practices of canoe paddling, fishing and surfing take place in Maunalua Bay. To add an underwater cemetery to these waters is not appropriate and will interfere with these practices. Who wants to canoe paddle over an underwater cemetery?

A second organization, Aha Wahine, which describes itself as a Native Hawaiian organization registered with the Department of the Interior, cited conflicts with traditional practices and “potential harm to the bay” in opposing the proposal.

Hawaii Memorial Reefs LLC was registered to do business in Hawaii in July 2012, according to state business registration records. It was register by Richard Filanc III, who is listed a manager of the limited liability corporation.

The Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board meets tonight at 7 p.m. in the Hahaione Elementary School Cafeteria.

Tardy Darby

Well, we’re still waiting. The storm as been delayed, or perhaps it has fizzled before reaching us. That’s what we thought when we got up this morning to find a light drizzle, a bit of wind now much out of the ordinary, and no sign of the tropical storm that had been impending when we went to bed last night.

Not that I’m complaining. But we do want to now what’s going on.

So I went online.

First, the local weather radar. It shows a band of rain ready to move across Oahu with a few yellow-orange hot spots. But, again, not out of the ordinary.

I think that if you click on the image, you will see an updated version.

Radar

But then I checked a different satellite view of the islands. It’s just about the same perspective, but in this view the storm looks much more serious, doesn’t it?

Satellite

I’m not sure which reality to plan our day around.

So far, we’re being conservative. It’s Sunday, after all, and we don’t have a busy schedule (although we are having friends over for dinner tonight, if they can make it).

Waiting for Darby

We’re waiting for Tropical Storm Darby to drop by the neighborhood sometime later today.

This morning was drizzling and a bit windy. Nothing out of the ordinary, but we know the storm is out there crawling our way.

For the record:

Approaching storm

Approaching storm

I don’t now whether I’ll be able to venture out for any storm photos later today or early tomorrow. We’ll see about that.

We took them for granted….

I got this brief email from an old friend in Kahala. We’ve been friends since our days at Kahala Elementary School.

He dropped a bag with a few mangoes for us over the weekend. We were in Kaaawa, but he left them by the front door. When I emailed to thank him, I mentioned our meager mango crop this year. We only got a handful of mangoes from one tree, none from the other.

This was his reply:

This was a weird mango year. Tree full of blossoms and not a single honey bee. Used to be that you could hear the buzzing, but this year nothing. So smaller crop.

I called the bee hotline and was informed that the wild hives have been eradicated. Guess we took wild bees for granted.

Yes, we certainly did.

Facing the rail conundrum

Honolulu’s rail project poses a particularly tricky issue at this point in its life.

We’ve already spent a vast amount on it, but the estimated total still to go keeps growing at an alarming pace.

And there’s no real reason to believe that current estimates are more accurate than those that came before.

So what do we do now?

The mayor now says we should just end at Middle Street and defer the remainder of the project until funds are available.

That’s a political fantasy. I don’t think any elected official is going to touch that political “third rail” once the first segment is capped off and the construction crews demobilized. It is just very, very unlikely to happen. And, of course, the crippled initial segment is just going to be a constant reminder of how badly this idea was executed and the costs, economic and political, of trying and failing.

UH Planning Professor Karl Kim, who has a background in transit issues, published a column in the Star-Advertiser which I hoped would have some sage advice (“Five fixes could help put Honolulu’s rail back on track“). Unfortunately, Kim’s suggestions would have been constructive if we were just starting out in designing a rail system, but not very useful when facing a mid-construction crisis in both finances and confidence.

He suggests simply getting over the blame game, finding a new consensus, coming up with a workable revenue model, developing more appropriate technology, and redesigning to incorporate elements of social justice.

It seems to me that this is all pie in the sky. Not going to happen. And can’t happen in a time frame that would give us any way forward from the current mess.

Then there was a comment on a recent post here expressing the “just do it, get it done” sentiment.

Here’s an excerpt:

Not having enough funds to complete elevated rail to Ala Moana is an entirely self-created dilemma. A funding cap BEFORE bids were opened was dumb. It’s a completely SOLVABLE problem that both HART and city council could be discussing because it’s entirely within their authority to address the funding cap issue.

It’s also within the mayor and council’s authority to discuss using property taxes. There are lots of good reasons why Honolulu taxpayers SHOULD be paying more for our own transportation system but I’ll save that for another discussion.

I have a of sympathy for this point of view, although this rail design was not my preference. I don’t agree with those who argue that if not for rail, these billions could have gone to other public projects. I don’t think that’s true. It took a truly major project like rail to muster the political forces to put an excise tax increase into play to cover the costs. We tried to get an increase for education, and that went nowhere.

And when you look around, it’s hard to say that the rail tax has crippled the economy. We’ve got low unemployment, lots of investment coming in, etc., etc. And although the big numbers are scary, the half cent out of each dollar spent isn’t one of the big factors in everyday finances. Obviously, housing is the biggie. The rail GET really doesn’t compare to those big expense categories at the micro level, only at the macro level. So would we really feel the pinch if it were extended farther into the future to pay for completing the system?

But David Johnson, a UH Sociology prof and a friend, wrote in Civil Beat that we need to challenge the idea that since we’ve gotten this far, there isn’t any alternative to just pushing forward to completion. He refers to this the fallacy of sunk costs.

He explained:

But to view rail in terms of costs already incurred is to commit the fallacy of sunk costs. A sunk cost is a cost that has been paid and cannot be recovered. In many areas of life and policy, decision-makers become preoccupied with sunk costs when they would be better off forgetting them. Couples commit this fallacy when they refuse to leave a lousy film before it ends (“We paid $20 for these tickets!”). And the United States committed a much grander version of it during the Vietnam War (“Giving up would mean our soldiers died in vain.”).

And Johnson concludes:

So I end with three conclusions: 1) Common sense says we do not need a rail project that ends at Middle Street. 2) A decent regard for reality leads to the conclusion that we cannot afford a rail project that goes where it should. 3) And recognition of the sunk cost fallacy counsels that we should walk away from this colossal mistake now.

Here’s a link to his column, “Honolulu’s Runaway Rail Project And The Fallacy of Sunk Costs.”

Perhaps we need a contest to come up with the best idea for alternative uses of the rail segments built to date if we just “walk away”. What other uses could be made of the elevated concrete platform?

It’s all just such a mess that it boggles my mind. None of the solutions really “work.”