Save the Bluff Citizen’s Committee ask for Feasibility Study for Del Mar Bluff Park


HELP save one of the last remaining parcels of coast bluff:                                          Please EMAIL THE DEL MAR CITY COUNCIL and ask them TO DO A FEASIBILITY STUDY.  

 Many citizens are excited about the possibility of these properties becoming a park and believe this option should be explored before this property is densely developed for commercial uses. The serenity of this area and the 4-acre Scripps Bluff Preserve could be lost forever. The Beach Colony could be gridlocked by increased traffic.   Please contact the City Council, including new Council member Terry Gaasterland and City Manger Scott Huth and ask them to approve a Feasibility Study OR to include the Del Mar Bluff Park as a viable alternative in the EIR.

Cut and paste to send an email:,,,,,,,

SUBJECT LINE: Del Mar Bluff Park Feasibility Study

Cut and paste: Dear Del Mar City Council: Please do a Feasibility Study to weight all options for the 16.5 acres at the southwest corner of Via de La Valle and Camino del Mar (101).         Sign your name

The SAVE OUR BLUFF CITIZENS’ COMMITTEE is formally requesting that the Del Mar City Council approve a Del Mar Bluff Park Feasibility Study to explore the option of creating a public Park for the 16.5 acres adjacent to the Scripps 4+ acre North Bluff Preserve. The goal is to compare and contrast the Park Alternative to the dense commercial development proposed for the Del Mar Resort. This information should be available at the same time as the EIR, so citizens can weigh all options. The Del Mar Bluff Park should be included as an alternative in any public vote for development on this property. This property is one of the largest remaining parcels of vacant land in Del Mar.

THE EVOLVING PARK VISION: The Del Mar Bluff Park could provide an important community meeting space for the Del Mar and Solana Beach communities and preserve views and property values for surrounding Solana Beach neighbors.   Since the Park would benefit both communities, the properties could be purchased all or in part by the two cities. The Park could be:

  • The beginning of Coast to Crest Trail with an education center.
  • The Solana Beach Historical Society and the Del Mar Historical Society could have educational and interpretive exhibits. The Del Mar Historical Society could relocate the Alvarado House there.
  • The existing Woodward Estate house could be remodeled as a community center for rent.
  • The Garden Club could have demonstration gardens.
  • This area is important to the Kumeyaay Tribe, who may want to participate.
  • San Dieguito River Park Conservancy could be involved.

Funds can be assembled from groups who could use a portion of this space, private donations and grant funding from government and land conservation non-profits. The property could be managed and paid for jointly by Del Mar and Solana Beach with bond money.   General Obligation Bonds costs and payments would be shared by Del Mar and Solana Beach. Land Conservation non-profits are being contacted to assess their interest to help obtain funding.

THE FEASIBILITY STUDY: The following information is needed to understand the viability of the Del Mar Bluff Park to the Del Mar Resort, including but not limited to:

    1.  The costs of acquisition, including an appraisal of fair market value for each of the properties, and how the use of Bargain and Sale deeds and other methods may reduce acquisition costs.
    2. Potential sources and costs for funding including, but not limited to, private, federal and state grants, municipal bonds, private gifts and non-profits donation, land leases, renovation of the Woodward property for rent and funding from the Joint Powers Authority.
    3. Possible users and potential ground leases for compatible park uses.

Need more information? Want to be kept informed?

These pictures were taken either from Scripps Bluff Preserve or from the south side of the San Dieguito River looking at the trail up to the Bluff.


Some people are like a Phoenix rising from the ashes of their life’s trials to emerge stronger. What is it about this person that builds their resilience? Is it the ability to find the gold in every black cloud? Is it an unshakeable belief in self? Could it be the ability to shift gears to adapt to the changes in life? Could it be to look towards the future with hope? Maybe it’s all of these. Here’s a wonderful metaphor to keep in mind when life’s obstacles seem insurmountable.

“In Japan there is an art form called kintsukuroi which means, “to repair with gold”.  When a ceramic pot or bowl would break, the artisan would put the pieces together again using gold or silver lacquer to create something stronger, more beautiful, than it was before. The breaking is not something to hide. It does not mean that the work of art is ruined or without value because it is different than what was planned. Kintsukuroi is a way of living that embraces every flaw and imperfection.  Every crack is part of the history of the object and it becomes more beautiful, precisely because it had been broken. People are the same way. Sometimes, when everything we valued and built up and cared for over the years falls to pieces, we are better able to see opportunities and possibilities that would have never presented themselves had life not been torn to rags.  Or standing and staring in the face of broken promises and broken dreams, eye-to-bloodshot-eye with our most assiduous fears, sometimes we discover that we were stronger than we imagined: that we can withstand more and that there is no reason to fear.  Sometimes trauma brings us closer to God, or to our purpose in life, or leaves us more appreciative than we were before: appreciative and even happy.  And when we are betrayed by someone we’ve loved, or taken advantage of, sometimes it is our trust and faith in others that grows stronger.  We look around at all the friends and acquaintances and strangers that come rushing to our aide, and our faith in human goodness is restored.  Cherish your relationships. Nurture them. That people are resilient is neither a stick of admonishment, nor a salve that takes suffering away. What it is, is a marker of hope. People can grow in the face of the horrific. It is evidence of what might be possible, no matter the loss, no matter the pain – kintsukuroi.”

Japanese Bowl by Peter Mayer

I’m like one of those Japanese bowls
That were made long ago
I have some cracks in me
They have been filled with gold

That’s what they used back then
When they had a bowl to mend
It did not hide the cracks
It made them shine instead

So now every old scar shows
From every time I broke
And anyone’s eyes can see
I’m not what I used to be

But in a collector’s mind
All of these jagged lines
Make me more beautiful
And worth a much higher price

I’m like one of those Japanese bowls
I was made long ago
I have some cracks you can see
See how they shine of gold

To Listen to this song:

Debbie Hecht, My Story 8.2018

Debbie Hecht: MY STORY as of   11.2018

TUCSON, AZ: 35 years

  • University of Arizona and taught school for several years.
  • In 1978 she became licensed to sell real estate in Arizona, specializing in selling land and apartment buildings.  She was a licensed real estate broker from 1981 to 2014.
  • She invested in tri-plexes and 4-plexes as she earned the money for down payments to be able to establish a dependable income. She has remodeled 11 properties and designed and built her own home. She has managed properties since 1978.
  • She was Tucson Mountain Association (TMA) President (6 years) and a Board member for 2 years.  During, during her tenure TMA:
  1. Partnered with the Trust for Public Lands to save 880 acres as Sweetwater Nature Preserve and to protect endangered species, which is now a Pima County Park.
  2. Helped pass the $215 million Open Space Bond that purchased Sweetwater as the first acquisition.  (TMA turned out more people from the Westside to vote for the Open Space Bond than any other part of Pima County).
  3. Wrote the legislation to protect the peaks and ridges of the surrounding mountains and led the group to successful lobby to make the Peaks and Ridges Ordinance part of the Pima County Code.
  4. Led the planning of Columbus Park, a 300-acre active sports park, facilitated adding 60 acres to the park by the City of Tucson as ball fields. TMA collaborated with 18 homeowners groups to plan a 12-mile long roadway with 3 different governments, which is now being built.
  5. Organized political forums:
    1. To help elect Pima County Supervisors.
    2. To elect a Pima County Assessor who promised to give tax reductions for conservation easements.
  6. She represented TMA on the 85-member Steering Committee for 4 years that wrote the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan (a multi-species habitat conservation plan) and provided direction for areas for development.
  7. She wrote a policy with Gail Hartmann to award property tax reductions to property owners who used conservation easements to reduce or extinguish their development rights.
  • Appointed to the Board to recommend Judicial Appointments.
  • Appointed to the Pima County Bond Advisory Board by Supervisor Sharon Bronson.
  • Worked with Congressmen Raul Grijalva (AZ-D) on land use issues when he was a supervisor. (He was a great supporter of creating Sweetwater Nature Preserve and the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan).

HAWAII– Debbie lived on the Big Island of Hawaii (Hawaii County) for 12 years from 2001 to 2013 and returns frequently to see friends and manage properties. While on the Big Island she was:

  • The 2% Land Fund as Campaign Coordinator from 2005 to 2102 to pass the legislation to create the 2% Land Fund. The Land Fund was on the ballot 3 times.
  • The 2% Land Fund sets aside 2% of property taxes each year for Open Space acquisition in Hawaii County.
  • As of 7.2018, 4,400 acres has been preserved.  These 14 properties were purchased with $27,389,268 million of 2% Land Fund monies,  plus the County received Grants from matching funds from State Legacy Lands and the US Fish and Wildlife Agency for endangered species which totaled $8.764 million, and $2,000,000 million in private funds.
  • There are 2,200 more acres at Waikapuna, Ka’u slated for acquisition this year (2018) from the 2% Land Fund, with matching funds. Waikapuna is the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources highest priority for acquisition for 2017.
  • Appointed by Mayor Billy Kenoi to the Public Access, Open Space Natural Resources Commission, which considers citizen’s proposals on lands to be acquired.
  • Helped to write the by-laws for the West Hawaii Unitarian Universalists and is a founding member.
  • Co-authored the 2% Land Fund and Maintenance Fund with Brenda Ford.
  • Served as a board member and secretary for 4 years with the Hawaii Pacific Parks Association (HPPA) and served on the committee to re-write the bylaws for that group.  HPPA is the non-profit that runs the bookstores at the National Parks in the state of Hawaii, and makes grants with the proceeds that provide funding for interpretive staff salaries and National Parks projects.
  • Worked as a member of the League of Women Voters to re-write the Initiative and Referendum Article that was approved by voters and is part of the Hawaii County Charter.
  • Proposed several changes to the Hawaii County charter during the charter review in 2010 on Referendum, Recall and Transparency in Government.
  • Wrote the by-laws and was the founder of the Kona Community Tennis Association in Kona.

SAN DIEGO AREA: 2013 to present

  • Elected chair of the Steering Committee for the San Diego Chapter of the Sierra Club for 2 years from February of 2014 to January of 2016.
  • Wrote the Guidelines for Aquaculture that were unanimously accepted by the 39 delegates representing all of the chapters of the Sierra Club in California and Nevada at the 2016 Sierra Club’s California Nevada Regional Conservation Committee.
  • Directed the effort at the Unitarian Universalists Fellowship of San Dieguito to convert to an all-solar campus and wrote the Kitchen Guidelines to eliminate waste and reduce recycling.
  • Currently proposing a water bottle ban for the City of Del Mar.
  • Working with neighbors to protect Scripps Bluff Preserve near Dog Beach in Del Mar, CA.
  • Appointed to the Del Mar Sustainability Advisory Board.

She enjoys helping to establish non-profits, facilitating groups, creating mission and vision statements, facilitating public forums and debates on political issues, negotiating with groups on diverse issues to reach agreements and conservation land planning in all of the places she has lived.

Debbie Hecht grew up a block from the ocean in Deal, New Jersey, where her love of the ocean began.  She enjoys reading, researching and writing. She is a swimmer, snorkeler, hiker, Master Gardener and tennis player. She lives close to the beach and is interested in water quality. She lives with her partner Jon Luft. Her son Matt Bender and wife Melanie and granddaughter Mila live in Culver City, CA.  Debbie and Mila just learned  to boogie-board.

Beyond Streets – Graffiti

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Open in Los Angeles till August 26- with Andrew Luft


BEYOND THE STREETS (BTS) is the premier exhibition of graffiti, street art and beyond, celebrating the soaring heights to which the world’s most recognizable modern art movement has risen. BTS is a groundbreaking multimedia showcase of paintings, sculpture, photography, installations and more throughout 40,000+ sq ft of industrial indoor and outdoor space.

BEYOND THE STREETS is curated by Roger Gastman. He is a graffiti historian, urban anthropologist and collector who Forbes says “has made a career of being the cultural connector between street artists and the art world.” BEYOND THE STREETS is Gastman’s dynamic follow-up to Art in the Streets, the U.S.’ first-ever graffiti and street art retrospective which broke MoCA Los Angeles’ attendance record with 220,000 visitors. Known for founding and co-publishing Swindle magazine with Shepard Fairey, Gastman co-authored The History of American Graffiti and co-produced the Oscar Award-nominated Banksy documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop.

Additional curation by Editor in Chief of Juxtapoz Magazine Evan Pricco, author and historian Caleb Neelon, and legendary NYC graffiti writer and historian David “Chino” Villorente. Adam Lerner, Director of the MCA Denver serves as a curatorial advisor. The exhibition is produced by Ian Mazie.



Cousin’s Tour of the California Coast: Los Angeles to Bodega Bay April/ May 2018



Wendy Golding and I left Los Angeles on April 22nd after  dinner and short visit in Culver City,  with my son, Matt Bender,  his wife Melanie and my grand daughter Mila. We stayed in Ventura that night.

The next morning we took the ferry to Scorpion Bay at Santa Cruz Island  where we kayaked into a few of the caves. We hiked the island’s coast trail up the bluff to overlook the Channel towards the California Coast. We saw several of the island foxes, which are native to six of the eight Channel Islands of California. Because of the isolation of each of the islands, each subspecies is unique to the island where it lives.  On our return ferry trip we were accompanied by a huge pod of dolphins. It was a  wonderful day  on the water!

Our tour continued up to the quaint Danish type town of Solvang, the Madonna Inn and up the coast to Morro Bay where we walked around Morro Rock and then continued our drive north and a walk on the Moonstone Beach Boardwalk. We ended the day just south of San Simeon where we spent the night so the next day we could tour Hearst Castle.

The Hearst Castle tour included the guesthouses, the main house the pool and tennis courts. We headed up the coat to see the Elephant Seal rookery with these huge animals and the baby seals.

Highway 1 is still closed from the landslides so we headed over the hills on Highway 46 back to Highway 101 and north through Paso Robles to Bradley, where we went west over the mountains to the coast and Highway 1 just south of the tiny town of Lucia. We continued our drive up the coast with a quick stop at Nepenthe to stay in Pacific Grove and had a great dinner at The Monterey Fish House.

The next morning we headed to the Monterey Bay Aquarium but discovered the Monterey Pacific Trail and went for a gorgeous walk past the Seal Rookery and to Lover’s Point. As we returned to the town of Monterey, we heard that there was a group of sea otters in one of the coves. We never did see the otters, but discovered that one of the Whale Watch boats had seen orcas that morning, so we headed out on the boat, where we saw several pods of Orcas and had the great fortune to see them up close! Wendy took a spectacular video of one pod.

We headed up the coast to stay with Wendy’s friends from college, Lauren and Vince Cardinale in Los Gatos. They have Camp Cardinale, a Pet Sitting and Vacation for Dogs.   We ate dinner with friends and canines.

Lauren and Vince advised us not to miss the Apple Building which was on our way up to Muir Woods and the coast north of San Francisco.   We hiked the trails in Muir Woods and continued up through Stinson Beach to Bodega Bay to meet my cousin and Wendy’s Aunt,  Kate Hecht.

Kate continued as our tour guide with visits to several wineries and a hike at  Bodega Head.  We finished the day at Kate’s home in Bodega Bay with a crab cake dinner and a spectacular sunset overlooking the Pacific. I left the next morning to drive back to San Diego, but Kate and Wendy went to San Francisco to continue their trip.                        What fun with my cousins, I hope we can keep heading up the coast on future trips!

PUBLISHING PICTURES- We love you to love our pictures but please ask permission before using and give credit to the photographer.  Thanks Debbie Hecht

Yucatan 2018

Jon Luft and I travelled to Valladolid, Mexico on the Yucatan peninsula in March and April  of 2018 to meet his cousins,  Susan and Greg Dorr and Ruth Stitt.  We had been there previously, but learned that Susan and Greg had great friends there who lived in Dzitnup, Jose and Alicia Roman Poot Moo, their children and extended family.  We were there during Easter week and we saw lots of  churches.   We explored cenotes, the underground lakes to cool off after touring the  Mayan temples.   It was a great trip especially being with family who are friends.


2% LAND FUND REPORT: History, Process and Successes for Hawai’i County’s 2% Land Fund 11.1.2018

These properties have been acquired by the 2% Land Fund through 2018

2% Land Fund map 2018

A MESSAGE FROM DEBBIE HECHT: It has been my great honor to be Campaign Coordinator for the 2% Land Fund over the last 13 years. I have learned that kuleana communities are built around our island’s treasured places. Building community is the “gold” and the greatest benefit that has grown out of the struggles for the 2% Land Fund.   Out of this love of the land has grown non-profit community groups that are volunteering their time and using their own money to care for these special places.   To see the 2017 Report to the Mayor by the Public Access and Open Space Commission (PONC), which lists this year’s top 10 properties recommended for conservation go to:

THE 2% LAND FUND WAS ON THE BALLOT AS A CHARTER AMENDMENT. In 2012, Debbie Hecht and Council member Brenda Ford added an important clause that runs with the land as a Deed Restriction, which says:

“This property (or easement) was acquired with money from the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund.  It shall be held in perpetuity for the use and enjoyment of the people of Hawai’i County and may not be sold, mortgaged, traded or transferred in any way.”

Council Member Brenda Ford and I thought this was very important. It takes several years before a property is proposed by citizens, gets through the Public Access and Open Space Commission and is funded and acquired by the County with our tax dollars.   The groups that propose these lands work hard to bring them forward and hard to care for them after they are acquired, frequently using their own money, their time and hard work to improve these properties. These properties are purchased with citizen’s tax money and the properties should be reserved for the use of all of us, our keiki and grandchildren.   This should not be subject to change just because the county cannot make their budget. The county should be fiscally responsible and have a sizeable Disaster Relief Fund. Our County has more natural disasters than any county in the US. Wouldn’t this be prudent? This is a voter mandated set aside. IF not dedicated in perpetuity, the land could be sold, developed for a hotel; beach access controlled like what happened at the Mauna Kea, Mauna Lani, Kukio Four Seasons Resorts and Kohanaiki. The money would disappear into the general fund. Another great gift of the 2% Land Fund is the capacity to apply for matching funds. The County frequently applies for an gets money for matching funds from State Legacy Lands and US Fish and Wildlife Service. So far, the County has received $8.76 million in matching funds, approximately 25% of the purchase price of the acquired properties. Why would they want to contribute money to these land purchases if the County could turn around and sell the land?

COUNTY/ STATE and FEDERAL GOVERNMENT COOPERATION: The County is currently collaborating with the National Park Service for both the Kahuku property and on the Waikapuna property which is under contract in Ka’u. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park helps to manage the Kahoka property. The Ala Kahakai Trail Association in conjunction with the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, which has a management plan for the King’s Trail or Ala Kahakai Trail that runs 175 miles from Upolu Point near Hawi to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The State of Hawaii Legacy Lands program frequently donates money to purchase properties.

THE MAINTENANCE FUND CHARTER AMENDMENT was on the ballot in 2012. Council member Brenda Ford and I wrote the legislation creating the 2% Maintenance Fund to care for the lands obtained by the 2% Land Fund. Maintenance Fund grants are available to community groups who are maintaining Hawai’i Islands treasured places. Our intent was to empower these groups to continue their good work and to enable and encourage kuleana and the building of community for these lands.  The County has made good use of these funds. But in the last 5 years there have only been 2 groups that have obtained these funds. WHY?  This process needs to be improved. It has now been placed under the care of the PONC Commission. This should help get these funds to community groups!  I was a PONC commissioner and these volunteers are strong advocates for land conservation and maintenance. Get in touch with your PONC Commissioner and ask their help to obtain Maintenance Funds or how to suggest lands for preservation in your community.


Here’s the link to find out who is your commissioner on for the Public Access and Open Space Natural Resources Commission:  In the above map you can see there are 14 properties that have been purchased and 14 groups that can use assistance. If you are one of these groups we encourage you to apply to the Public Access and Open Space Commission (PONC).

The County should do better to enable and empower our communities and the PONC Commission seems to agree.

The 2018 Report to the Mayor contains:



  • PROPERTIES ACQUIRED since 2006: 14  
  • LAND ACQUIRED: 4,428 acres of land already acquired suggested by community members
  • MONEY SPENT: County of Hawaii 2% Land Fun   $ 27,389,268.

                             Grants from Matching funds*                    $8,764,083.

                                   Private funds:                                            $2,000,000

*MATCHING FUNDS- My opinion: The highest and best use of 2% of taxpayer’s funds is to use the 2% Land Fund to get dollar for dollar matching funds. To date the County has only received 1 dollar for every 3 dollars spent for taxpayers OR only 32% of the money spent is from grants.   The ultimate goal would be to get dollar for dollar matching funds.

PROPERTIES SUBMITTED TO THE PONC COMMISSION TO BE CONSIDERED FOR ACQUISITION since December 28, 2016: This information came from the Comprehensive List of Properties


  1. Where did the 2% amount come from?   In 2004 and early 2005 the Trust for Public Lands (TPL) did a survey of Hawaii County residents to ask if they would like to see a 1% Land Fund or 2% Land Fund. A large majority of residents said they would want a 2% Land Fund because land is so expensive on the Big Island.   Sammie Stanbro donated the money to TPL for this survey.
  2. The Save Our Lands Citizen’s Committee Petition Initiative drive collected 9,600 signatures from April to July of 2006. This was during Harry Kim’s first term. Mayor Kim was adamantly against setting aside 2% of property taxes for land acquisition, even though this is 1.5% of the total income for the County.   County Clerk Connie Kiriu and County Counsel Lincoln Ashida disqualified almost 6,000 signatures for leaving off Pl, St. or Rd, or if husband and wife used ditto marks for their address when signing under each other or if the year was left off, (we collected signatures from May to July so it was only during 2005 which made the year implied and irrelevant).
  3. We needed 4,400 signatures, but because of the disqualifications we didn’t get enough. The County Council decided to place the ballot measure on the ballot for 2006 anyway.
  4. Despite the Corporation Counsel submitting confusing ballot language using double negatives, the amendment to the Code passed by 63% of voters who voted on the issue and become part of the Hawaii County Code.
  5. In 2008- Mayor Kenoi and the County Council suspended deposits to the Fund for two years as his very first piece of legislation after taking office because the legislation was part of the Hawaii County Code. The Save Our Lands Citizens’ Committee pointed out that there were more than 260 funded but unfilled jobs in his budget, but Mayor Kenoi failed to reinstate payments to the 2% Land Fund after cutting these budget entries totaling approximately $14 million.
  6. In 2010, the Charter Commission put the Land Fund on the ballot again, but only as the 1% Land Fund.  Again the Land Fund passed by 63% of voters, who voted on the measure.
  7. In 2012, to honor all the people who signed the petitions and worked so hard over the years, Debbie Hecht and Brenda Ford realized we needed to put the 2% Land Fund back on the ballot as a Charter Amendment, together with a 1/4% Maintenance Fund. We wanted to make sure the Council and Mayor couldn’t stop fund deposits and a charter amendment can only be undone by a vote of the people.  Again, 63% of voters approved both measures. As part of the 2% Land Fund legislation, every property obtained with our taxpayer funds shall have a covenant that runs with the land stating that these lands are to be held in perpetuity for the citizens of the County of Hawaii and cannot be sold, traded, mortgaged etc.  This has already blocked a potential land trade with the State of Hawaii.
  8. The Maintenance Fund was clarified in the Hawaii County Code in 2016 to allow the PONC Commission to review Stewardship Grants and to recommend which grants to approve to the Director of Finance.

GRASS ROOTS ORGANIZING PROCESS to pass the 3 ballot measures:

  • During the Petition Initiative process, the Save Our Lands Citizen Committee had more than 100 people who collected signatures of more than 50 signatures each in 2006.
  • The Committee has a 3,000 personal email list, which we use to inform our supporters, or if we need emails sent to elected officials, or to ask people to show up for public meetings or to lobbying their Council members.   These 3,000 people were asked to contact their email list. They represent about 10% of the voting public on the island. (There have been approximately 100,000 voters registered for the County of Hawaii, usually about 33,000 of these registered voters actually vote, therefore 3,000 supporters is 10% of the vote.)

Citizens have proposed 180 properties for acquisition:

  • Puna area: 16 properties
  • South Hilo area: 16 properties
  • North Hilo: 7 properties
  • Hamakua: 26 properties
  • North Kohala: 29 properties
  • South Kohala: 18 properties
  • North Kona: 27 properties
  • South Kona: 14 properties
  • Ka’u: 27 properties

The Community recommends a property to the Public Access and Open Space Commission, here is the process and links to the application:

THE HAWAII COUNTY CHARTER AND THE HAWAII COUNTY CODE: which regulates the 2% Land Fund (PONC) and the PONC Maintenance Fund go to:

Submitted by Debbie Hecht, Campaign Coordinator Save Our Lands Citizen’s Committee 808-989-3222

Join our email list to stay informed and keep your family and friends informed on this important issue.



A Cardiac Care Unit for the Big Island of Hawai’i

Updated January 15,2017

THE PROBLEM and the NEED:  The GOLDEN 2 HOUR WINDOW FOR CARE:          People with cardiac problems- heart attacks and strokes must be airlifted to hospitals in Honolulu or to Maui Memorial to be treated.   There is a 2 hour window when patients need to be treated in order to expect a full recovery.  Think about where you live on the Big Island.  At least from my home it would take 45 minutes to get to Kona Community Hospital Emergency Room, then the time to be diagnosed and then get the helicopter and then the 45 minute + time to Oahu, getting checked in and a cardiologist hopefully is at the hospital and you need to be seen, an Operating Room hopefully is available.  Mayor Harry Kim has had 3 heart attacks,  two County Councils Chairs Dominic Yagong and Pete Hoffmann have all had to be airlifted off island to be treated for heart attacks.  Who do you know?

STATISTICS FROM 2016 FOR KONA COMMUNITY HOSPITAL supplied to Representative Nicole Lowen from Judy Donovan who is the Regional Director of Marketing and Strategic Planning at Kona Community Hospital and the Kohala Hospital. She thanked Dr. Rosen for his help in compiling the following numbers:

“We were able to get the following information from the HHIC database for calendar year 2016.  Mahalo to Dr. Rosen for here assistance in pulling this data together.

BREAKDOWN OF CASES and TRANSFERS:  Case definition = DRG Invasive Cardiology (Author Note: DRG is an insurance code)

  1. Total Cardiac Cases at Kona Community Hospital (KCH) = 375
  2. Cases admitted and discharged at KCH = 218 = 58%
  3. Cases transferred to other neighbor island hospitals = 16 = 4% (Maui Memorial)
  4. Cases transferred to Oahu hospitals = 151 = 38%**

**Note: approximately 40% of transfers to Oahu were Kaiser patients.  Some of those patients may have been admitted to KCH had they been otherwise insured.” Note: These patients were airlifted to Kaiser Moanalua, Queens, Pali Momi or Straub).


REPORT FOR A CARDIAC CARE FOR WEST HAWAII  Debbie Hecht reporting June 2016

A Cardiac Care Unit is needed on the Big Island. Several well-known community members have been airlifted to Queens Hospital in Honolulu or Maui Memorial Hospital with heart problems or strokes: Mayor Kim, Council Chair Pete Hoffmann, and OHA Representative Bob Lindsey

Before going to Kona, I discussed a cardiac care unit for West Hawaii with Jon Luft, Architect and Teri Oelrich, medical planner at NBBJ Architects, who specialize in planning and designing hospitals. They are currently involved in building a one million square foot, state-of-the-art replacement hospital for Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, California. Jon lived on the Big Island in the 1980’s and Teri has also worked in Hawaii. Teri thought that a hybrid Operating Room (OR) and Catheterization Lab would be a first step to assessing the need/use of a Cardiac Care Unit. She was helpful in explaining the process for a Certificate of Need. From these discussions, I learned that hospitals make money on their operating rooms. North Hawaii Community Hospital is booked solid with orthopedic and gastroenterology procedures. Queens Medical has taken over the operations of North Hawaii Community Hospital. There is currently no facility or any cardiologists to staff a dedicated cardiac care unit for West Hawaii. We came to the conclusion that Kona Community Hospital (KCH) was the best location for a Cardiac Care unit. I also learned there is additional, unused land adjacent to the Kona Community Hospital for expansion if a full-scale cardiac care unit is needed in the future. I also learned that here is a 2-hour window where a patient must receive intervential care to recover completely. By the time a cardiac victim would get from their home to KCH is evaluated and airlifted to Maui or Oahu, much more than two hours have elapsed- 4 hours is a more likely estimate. All of the people I talked to expressed the need for a new hospital closer to the Kona International Airport.

Kona Community Hospital has one cardiologist listed on their list of specialists, Dr. Michael Dang who comes periodically from Honolulu. Dr. Larry Derbes has applied for privileges at KCH and is an interventional cardiologist in private practice in Kona. He agrees that a Catheterization Lab to do stents and ablations and to treat strokes is very necessary for West Hawaii, would save lives and result in better outcomes and quality of life for cardiac patients. He is interested in helping to establish, and in working at a Cardiac Care Facility. He also outlined the challenges of a doctor trying to make a living on the Big Island because of the Medicare reimbursement rate, which is roughly 93% of the actual cost of living. He was working in Waimea, but is closing that office and moving his practice to downtown Kona, approximately 20 minutes from KCH.

Jay Kreuzer, is the CEO of KCH, and has also been a cardiac patient. He said that the problem with the the Medicare reimbursement rate of only 93% of the actual cost, is compounded by Hawaii Medical Services Association (HMSA-the State of Hawaii’s biggest healthcare insurer) compensates at only 110% of the Medicare Reimbursement Rate as compared with most mainland insurance companies which reimburse at 130% of the Medicare rate. These explanations further illustrate the negative impacts of insufficient reimbursement rates for attracting and retaining good doctors on the islands. He told me that there is an airlift almost every day from KCH to either Queens in Honolulu or Maui Memorial and they are usually for heart or stroke patients. He confided that Queens and KCH are in negotiations to acquire KCH.   He said the difficulty with a Cardiac Care unit is finding cardiologists to staff the clinics, “There is no sense in building it if we don’t have the staff.” If Queens acquires KCH, he believes more doctors would be available for rotations at KCH for specialties. Queens’ strategy would be to enable more patients to stay on the outer islands instead of going to Oahu because their beds are always full. He also told me that the recent heavy rains had caused extensive flooding and damage to one of the Operating Rooms, which might represent an opportunity to remodel for a hybrid OR and Cath Lab.

I also met with Dr. Frank Sayre, Chair of the Board for the West Hawaii Regional Hospital Board of Directors, which oversees Kona Community Hospital and the North Kohala Community Hospital. He reiterated what Jay Kreuzer said about why it is difficult to keep good doctors. He told me that he had discussed setting up a “funded chair” for specialists (similar to academic chairs) as a stipend to keep doctors on the island. This discussion was between Frank and a staff member from the Hawaii Community Foundation. Frank and I also discussed setting up an annuity pool with the Kona Hospital Foundation to fund several stipends for cardiac specialists who are willing to be “on call” at the hospital. We talked about the possible need to hire a grant writer and/ or approaching several donors interested in better cardiac care on the island.


  1. A HYBRID CATHETERIZATION LAB/ OPERATING ROOM FOR KONA COMMUNITY HOSPITAL: According to the medical planner, Teri Oelrich, affiliated with NBBJ architects, many rural areas first create a hybrid Catheterization Lab out of an existing Operating Room.       She estimated that this could be accomplished for approximately $2 million for equipment only; remodeling would be an additional cost.
  2. The recent flooding of the Operating Room at KCH presents an opportunity to remodel the Operating Room and accommodate Cath Lab equipment.
  3. STAFFING: Funding mechanisms could be established through donations to the Hawaii Community Foundation or the Kona Community Hospital Foundation
    1. Establish a funded “chair position” for each specialty that is needed with a yearly stipend.
    2. OR establish a pool of money as an annuity that will provide a stipend each year for several specialists.


  1. COMPILE STATISTICS to show the need for the Catheterization Lab by using billing for the last 2 years, or assessing airlifted patients as to why they were being carried off-island. The goal of this would be to establish the need for a Catheterization Lab or other specialties and give direction to the hospital and the Board as to what doctors, staff and facilities would be needed. This is important because:
    1. With this data KCH would know what specialties and specialists were needed to treat and allow patients on the island to recover, which is a huge benefit for better outcomes for the patient and keeps interventions in the 2-hour window. In the event of a Queen’s acquisition, it would expedite a facilities upgrade and staff hiring.
    2. Having this data available would help determine the best strategies on how to repair the flood damaged ER (possibly into a cath lab hybrid).
    3. Having the data could illustrate the need for a cath lab, and support the Board and CEO’s strategic planning.
    1. Consider hiring a grant writer to apply for grants from the Hawaii Community Foundation, HMSA Foundation, Kona Community Chamber of Commerce, and Rotary of Kona, Heart Association, Bill Healy Foundation, Ironman Foundation etc.
    2. Establish an annuity to provide stipends of $50,000 for one or two on call cardiologists or a visiting cardiologist for KCH. For example: An annuity could be set up for $1,000,000 to invest at 5% to raise $50,000 per year for a stipend to pay a cardiologist to be on-call in addition to their private practice.

BRIEF RESUMES FOR CONTRIBUTORS (in alphabetical order):

 LAWRENCE DERBES, M.D., F.A.C.C., is a board-certified cardiologist who has been practicing since 1990. Dr. Derbes graduated from Vanderbilt University with his bachelor’s degree and Louisiana State University, where he obtained his degree in medicine. Subsequently, he completed fellowships in three different locations, Louisiana, California, and Florida, in cardiac electrophysiology, interventional cardiology, and internal medicine, respectively. Dr. Derbes moved from the mainland to Oahu in 2006, where he was an interventional cardiologist specializing in electrophysiology. He has extensive experience performing cardiac catheterizations and other interventional procedures, including stent and pacemaker placement. In addition to working in various hospitals on Oahu, he also practiced cardiology in two offices. Dr. Derbes moved to Waimea in September of 2013 in order to strictly practice preventive care. Concerned about patients’ post-surgery lifestyles and follow up care, Dr. Derbes’ practice integrates both lifestyle and conventional medicine in order to mediate existing cardiac problems as well as chronic illness and conditions like high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Dr. Derbes has applied for privileges at Kona Community Hospital. His TedX talk can be found at  He is now in practice with Ali’i Health in Kona.

DEBBIE HECHT worked for the County Council for the County of Hawaii as a legislative specialist. She was the campaign coordinator, from 2005 to 2012, to set aside 2% of Hawaii County property taxes to purchase open space and parklands. To date the Public Access and Open Space and Natural Resources Fund has preserved over 3,000 acres of land for $32 million+, with over $7 million from matching funds. With Councilmember Brenda Ford, she wrote the legislation for the 2% Land Fund charter amendment and the 2% Land Fund Maintenance charter amendment to maintain lands that have been acquired with Fund monies. Both charter amendments were approved by 65% of voters. She is a heart patient and has had 2 stents and 2 ablations over the last 5 years and would like to be able to safely live on the Big Island. She is grateful to have survived 6 years on the island without being properly diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. She hopes to help provide care for others who may want to remain on the island with heart and cardio health issues and help to provide the facilities to educate people about better heart health through diet and exercise.

JAY KREUZER, MHA, FACHE – The HHSC West Hawaii Regional Board of Directors named Jay Kreuzer as the new Regional Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the West Hawaii region, which includes Kona Community Hospital (KCH) and Kohala Hospital. He began work March 14, 2011. Jay Kreuzer has more than 30 years of progressive, proven health care leadership experience. He previously served as the Executive Vice President of Resurrection Health Care, a not-for-profit health system located in Chicago, that includes eight hospitals, seven nursing homes, five independent living facilities, and three assisted living facilities. He concurrently was the Chief Executive Officer for West Suburban Medical Center, a facility with $520 million in gross revenues, five ambulatory sites, 325 member medical staff, 250 volunteers, foundation and physician/hospital organization (PHO).

Prior to this, he was president of St. Francis Hospital and Health System, a 412-bed acute care hospital ranked in the top 100 hospitals nationally. He also served as the President of Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, a 220-bed acute care hospital in rural Southern Illinois.

Kreuzer earned a Bachelor of Science degree at Valparaiso University in Indiana and received a Master in Health Administration at Xavier University in Ohio. He is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. He moved to the Big Island with his wife, Jean (a school nurse for 20 years).

JON LUFT, Architect, LEED AP: Jon is a broadly experienced architect whose portfolio includes projects at every scale and complexity across multiple market sectors, project types and construction delivery methods. His professional experience spans almost 40 years and involves hands-on experience in a wide range of domestic and international projects in health care, hospitality, higher and K-12 education, municipal and public safety, commercial and high rise buildings, public transit, urban mixed-use and residential projects. Jon is a licensed architect in California, Arizona, Hawaii and Massachusetts and his recent practice has focused on large, acute healthcare projects in the California marketplace. He is skilled at leading large, multi-disciplinary teams on challenging projects, from planning and design through construction and project closeout. Jon has a proven ability to effectively manage complex projects that have critical design, construction, phasing, and operational requirements while fostering an atmosphere of teamwork and open communication. Jon has developed his professional experience among the worlds leading design firms including Cesar Pelli & Associates, Skidmore Owings & Merrill, HDR, HKS, Leo A Daly and currently with NBBJ, Los Angeles.  Recent acute healthcare work has included design and implementation for the new Emergency Department at Scripps Mercy, San Diego, CA, and as senior project manager for replacement hospitals at Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, CA ($450M, 500,000sf, Design Build)), San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital, Banning, CA ($120M, 120,000sf, CM Multiple-Prime), and currently for the Campus Transformation Project at Loma Linda University Medical Center, Loma Linda, CA ($1B, 1,000,000sf, Negotiated w/GMP).

TERI OELRICH, RN, BSN, MBA, leads the Healthcare Analytics at NBBJ, the second-largest healthcare architecture firm in the world and named one of the most innovative by Fast Company. She has a clinical background in nursing, working in a variety of settings, including orthopedics, medical-surgical units, and adult and pediatric intensive care units. She also holds an MBA, and coupled with her operational knowledge, she brings a valuable mix of clinical and business acumen to healthcare projects. Teri is available to the client from planning to completion and beyond. She works closely with our medical planners and Lean consultants to “right size” projects based on a rigorous analysis of both historical data across healthcare systems and the client-specific data. Teri uses the data-analysis process to assist our clients with determining what they need to meet projected clinical case volumes as opposed to what they want based purely on today’s environment. This process of using analytics to drive planning and design is increasingly important in the current data-driven healthcare industry. Her recent work includes planning for University of Washington Medical Center, Sutter Health Regional Ambulatory Care Master Plan, and Legacy Emanuel Medical Center Intensive Care and Surgery Replacement.

She is the Co-President for the Center for Women’s Health at OHSU and is also on the Foundation Board of Trustees for Legacy Meridian Park. She is also a previous presenter at conferences for ASHE, American Institute of Architects (AIA), Healthcare Design (HCD), and National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI).

FRANK SAYRE, Chairman of the Board, West Hawaii Regional Hospital Board of Directors, which oversees Kona Community Hospital and North Kohala Community Hospital. Sayre joined the board in July 2014. He was previously a member of the KCH surgical staff and HHSC’s Management Advisory Committee for West Hawai’i. He is a volunteer Board member for the Peoples Advocacy for Trails Hawai’i, and the Pu’u Wa’a Wa’a Advisory Council. He is a founding board member of the Daniel Sayre Memorial Foundation along with his wife, Laura Mallery Sayre, which has donated more that $700,000 for equipment to first responders on the Big Island. Dr. Sayre was a dentist in private practice in Kailua Kona for many years.


There is an ongoing problem to keeping doctors in Hawaii that is outlined in the report.  There is more information needed on how to best serve the Community.

Please contact me to become part of the movement to have community needs met by the Kona Community Hospital.  Mahalo!    Debbie Hecht

Costa Rica 2.2018



THE COSTA RICAN ADVENTURE with 18 fellow travelers:   We landed  in San Jose and stayed in the adjacent town of Alajuela. The next day we travelled  to the village of La Fortuna with stops at Baldi Hot Springs,  a hike at Volcan Arenal with a nest of baby hummingbirds, a view of Lake Arenal and a gorgeous sunset.  Day 3 river rafting with alligators, iguanas and an old homestead, 500 steps down (and up) to Fortuna Falls, and sunset on Volcan Arenal from the plaza in La Fortuna.  Then a Boat Trip across lake Arenal to the village of Monteverde and the Monteverde Inn with a 2+ mile hiking trail, waterfalls, a slot canyon, a shy aguti and a night hike with an enthusiastic, knowledgable guide where we saw lots of animals, tangled with some poison ivy but only got a  photo of an ugly scorpion.  A hike into Monteverde and a tour of an Orchid Garden with a knowledgable young woman.  Next day to Selvatura Park where we saw coatamundi, hummingbirds, butterflies and gorgeous rainforest plants and flowers and hiked the sky bridges high above the rainforest floor.

Then we took Ted’s Wild Ride over the mountains and across a river of crocodiles to the town of Manuel Antonio at the Pacific Coast.  We went snorkeling and I saw a few starfish I had never seen.  The following day we hiked right from our hotel, Manuel Antonio, and into the  Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio.    Marvin Parra was our amazing guide.  He was enthusiastic and took some great photos through his scope!  He is credited with the close ups of the hanging bats (look at those eyes), the land crab, the Howler monkey, the iguana, the dragonfly, another type of bat and the sloth.   I found a capuchin monkey that was fun to follow on the hike down to the first and second beaches, then on to Gamelas (the Twins) Beach.

The last day in  Manuel Antonio we went past the town of Quepos and the old Port area, to the mangroves and took a boat ride with another wonderful naturalist.  We saw a pygmy owl,  4 kinds of herons (blue heron, spoon bill rosetta heron, bitterns, bare-throated tiger heron), lots of birds, a boa constrictor in a tree, an iguana and the oddest Capuchin monkey who’s expressions were so human!  He went from grumpy, to worried to pissed off to rebellious.

Most notable on this trip?   The happy Costa Rican people!  They have no military, but spend their money on health care and education.  Their major income producing industry is tourism and they are very environmentally conscious.  They use fast growing trees as fence post, have small cars, recycle and seem to have a lot of fun with their friends and family in their beautiful country.   I loved speaking Spanish.  PURA VIDA!

NOTE:  This was a grand experiment to minimize photographic equipment, so All PHOTOS were TAKEN WITH AN I phone.   PLEASE DO NOT USE PHOTOS WITHOUT PERMISSION OR GIVING CREDIT.