(BIVN) – On Thursday, the Hawaiʻi State House Finance Committee will take up HB 1180, a bill to fund “disaster relief, recovery, mitigation, and remediation activities for the County of Hawaiʻi” following the destructive eruption of Kīlauea on the Lower East Rift Zone in summer 2018.
A companion bill in the State Senate has also been refereed to the Ways and Means Committee.
During a hearing on SB 1302 before the Senate Committees on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs and Housing, Kapoho landowner Lono Lyman testified in person. Lyman urged the senators to amend the bill, or at least include in the committee report, “that the funding be first and foremost for areas, businesses and individuals directly impacted by the lava flow.”
“Kapoho Land is the largest landowner impacted by the lava flow,” Lyman said. “We have altogether 4,300 acres and 1,265 were covered by this lava flow.”
“Our land areas include the [Puna Geothermal Venture] project site, a quarry site, ranch areas and farm lots,” Lyman said. “We have lost our shirt.”
“These monies are needed by the county,” Lyman continued. “The description for the uses are very generalized, and the anxiety I have is that the funding should be – first and foremost – for areas, and businesses, and individuals directly impacted. And not for uses outside those areas.”
“I’m hearing,” Lyman said, “that there are ideas and plans of doing things such as housing for migrating people out of this area. There’s a lot of housing in the area, in subdivisions that already exist. You don’t need to create a new subdivision to have people relocate. They’re relocating by buying vacant lots in the subdivisions that already exist. Our farmers want to get back to lands that are a lava-locked and [Highway] 132 is the the key to resolving that. We are working with PGV as an alternative, but the liability issues and the maintenance and management issues, are overwhelming.”
Meanwhile, a view from above the lava covered lands of Puna show “some property/homeowners in and near the flow field have begun bulldozing their own access roads,” videographer Mick Kalber reported after a Paradise Helicopters overflight on Monday.
“It’s amazing once you put one road in, how it opens up an area,” Lyman told lawmakers.