This evening was the local hearing for the proposed Mauna Kea Public Access Rules. As the hearing took place at Waikoloa School I had no excuse not to go, it is practically at the end of our street. Of course I was going to attend even if I had to drive across island, this is an issue that directly affects me.
And yes, I testified, attempting to summarize my three pages of written testimony in three minutes. I suspect I got the gist across in a clear fashion, I will submit my written testimony as well.
Other than myself the testifiers were completely drawn from the anti-telescope community. It is unfortunate that the issue has become so polarized that no other members of the community attended. Access to the mauna affects more than just the astronomy and anti-astronomy folks, this should be of interest to anyone who calls the island home.
As such many of the testifiers paid scant attention to the contents of the rules, instead of providing constructive input so much testimony was simply another protest against the Thirty Meter Telescope. Some form of rules need to be put in place with or without the new telescope.
It is now round three for the Mauna Kea public access rules. The first versions of the rules were simply bad and rightly faced unanimous criticism from the community. Virtually nobody testified in support of the first version at the public meetings.
This latest version of the rules is much better, at least someone properly edited the rules and there are no complete blunders in the language.
There are still some items in the rules that are problematic. In general the university is attempting to regulate public activity on the mauna far beyond their mandate in the lease or in the comprehensive management plan.
There will be protests, that much is clear. Beyond that certainty there is no certainty. When? How big? How long? We just do not know, it is likely no one does.
As we prepare for the restart of construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope, those of us whose lives revolve around the mauna can only guess and prepare best we can.
While there is news of plans at the state and county level to deal with the protests, there is little information on the details in those plans. Both sides are keeping their cards close. We are given to understand that the county will be the lead agency it is clear that there will be state support.
It appears that every single bill attempting to address Mauna Kea issues is dead, at least for the 2019 session.
March first is a deadline referred to as ‘first decking’ in local legislative lingo. This is the date by which the bill must be in final form to allow review before the final votes. No vote, no crossover, being passed to the opposite chamber, house or senate.
Public comment on the previously proposed rule package was so overwhelmingly negative that the university was forced to withdraw the rules for revision. As this is round two, shall we take a look at the revised public access rules?
These rules will govern all public and commercial access to the summit of Mauna Kea. As such these rules should be of intense interest of anyone who travels to Mauna Kea. All island residents should be made aware of the contents of these rules as the mauna belongs to all of those who live in its shadow.
After last year’s debacle that occurred when trying to introduce administrative rules for public and commercial access to Mauna Kea, the University of Hawaii is back with a heavily revised version.
How bad were the original version of the rules? In many areas they seemed to be badly thought out, with language far too expansive. Even a cursory reading reveals that the rules were not reviewed by someone familiar with some of the technical language used. Many of the proposed rules would have created safety issues, or even devoid of common sense.
It does appear that they actually listened to the criticism that was received in written form and at the public hearings. Many of the complete gaffes have been removed or reasonably revised.
The warnings sound pretty bad, high winds, high surf, snow for the summit. The county has closed all beach parks, the state has closed most of the parks in anticipation of the bad weather.
The summit of Mauna Kea is currently seeing sustained winds of over 80mph, with gusts well over 100mph. Yes, the summit is closed to the public and observing has been cancelled at Keck.
Meanwhile it is eerily still at the house, almost no breeze and quite pleasant. Waiting for the storm to arrive.
I will not be going up anytime soon. Taking a little time off to spend with some family that will be on island, hopefully landing right about now.
I was up a couple days ago… It was impressive then, 40mph winds and everything covered with inches of ice. I braved the biting wind to wander about and take a few photos. Very cold, and very beautiful.