Ask The Mayor
Q: Will there be another “Open House” at the county building for people to talk to different departments regarding county building permits?
A: The next Permitting Open House will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. June 26. The session will be held at the Mayor’s Conference Room on the ninth floor of the county building and will include staff from the departments of Public Works, Fire, Water Supply, Planning and Environmental Management. The representatives will be on hand to help answer and route questions related to the permitting process.
Q: According to the state attorney general’s office, as quoted last month in a local newspaper, gun registrations and gun sales went up by a huge percentage in Maui County in 2012, as compared with 2011 (and other years including 2002). I don’t believe hunting has increased here. With the recent elementary school lockdown due to hearing of someone with a gun coming over the school’s fence, as well as an increase in domestic violence shootings and murders increasing in recent years, do you have any ideas as to what can be done for gun control here?
A: Although gun registration has increased in Maui County, our chief of police confirms that Hawaii’s gun laws are among the strictest in the nation. Maui Police Department’s firearms registration specialists exercise equally strict applicant compliance procedures with fairness and professionalism. MPD allocates its resources in ways that prevent crime and apprehend those who commit crime. This entails networking with literally hundreds of law enforcement agencies and organizations locally, including the State of Hawaii Justice System, as well as nationally and internationally.
Q: The first block on Vevau Street in Kahului, between Kane Street and Lono Avenue, is hazardous to drive on due to potholes, uneven pavement, etc. Last year, the other half of Vevau Street was paved, including School Street, which includes the Kahului Public Library. It appears to be an unfinished paving of Vevau Street. Please explain why all of Vevau was not paved or what the plan is for that portion of the road.
A: The section of Vevau Street between Kane and School streets is privately owned by A&B. Future plans for the area are uncertain; however, the company has indicated that any improvements to the road would take place in conjunction with development in the area.
Ask The Mayor
Q: With respect to vehicles with tinted windows, how can Maui Police Department officers ensure that laws are being followed, specifically: 1) seat belts are properly placed? and 2) cellphones are hands-free?
A: With regard to enforcing seat belt or cellphone violations, the officer should be certain that the violation occurred or is occurring at the time of the traffic stop. Window tint does not always prohibit officers from observing violations of the seat belt or cellphone law. If a vehicle’s tint is dark and prohibits an officer from seeing the person inside the vehicle, the tint is darker than allowed by law. Officers would then do a traffic stop for the tint and use a tint meter to determine how dark the tint is on the vehicle. If a violation occurs, the officer can issue a citation for dark tint. No tint shall have a light transmittance of less than 35 percent for all front seat driver and passenger windows. For vans, minivans, trucks or buses, there is no limit on the windows to the rear of the driver provided they are equipped with rearview mirrors on both sides. Also, tint may not encroach upon the AS-1 line on the front windshield. State statutes: 291-21.5 Regulation of motor vehicle sun screening devices ($287 operator fine / $537 installer fine); 291-11.6 Mandatory use of seat belts ($92 fine). Maui County Code: 10.52.260 Mobile electronic devices ($97 fine). To read the laws online, visit www.capitol.hawaii.gov and www.mauicounty.gov/laws.
Q: What is the status of plans to repave or resurface the stretches of Kamehameha, Wakea and Papa avenues in Kahului that need major reconstructive work? These heavily traveled routes are in bad shape in many places. Pothole repair won’t correct the problems – what is needed is complete repaving in these areas.
A: These are all federally funded projects that are in design or have recently been sent to bid. Their status: Kamehameha Avenue (Puunene to Papa avenues), Hina Avenue (Wakea Avenue to Niihau Street and Molokai Akau to Ani streets) and Wakea Avenue (Kaahumanu to Puunene avenues), bids recently opened with construction expected to start at the end of this year/early next year; Wells Street, Wakea Avenue (Puunene Avenue to Hana Highway) and Papa Avenue (Kaahumanu to Puunene avenues), expecting to advertise for bids by the end of this year with construction slated to begin within the first half of next year.
Q: Every so often when driving at night I notice a street light that has burned out. Who should I call to report this?
A: You should call Maui Electric Co., which maintains the street lights. Its 24-hour number for trouble calls is 871-7777.
Ask The Mayor
Q: As a longtime Kahului resident, I have noticed that the residential area over the years has construction that appears not to be in compliance with zoning and building codes, such as apartment-type buildings, rental units, multiple-family dwellings that are constructed in addition to the allowed second dwelling on a lot. Also, there are a number of building extensions which extend up to the property line not respecting the setback line. My understanding is that any construction that takes place requires a building permit, so do these buildings have the county’s blessings? I have also noticed a number of commercial-type activity within the residential area like the overnight parking of large trucks, heavy equipment, commercial-type boats and large trailers on the road right-of-way.
A: All structures need building permits unless they are specifically exempt. Building permits are processed by the Department of Public Works, Development Services Administration. They review permits for compliance with the building code, which includes building setbacks and heights. Most building permits are also routed to the Planning Department to determine compliance with zoning, which includes the number or density of dwellings allowed on each lot. Assuming that street parking is allowed, the parking of commercial vehicles and boats in a residential area can be a gray area. If there is no commercial activity being conducted on the residential lot, then there probably is not a violation. Some businesses allow their employees to take work vehicles home; however, if commercial activity is taking place, then it could be a zoning violation. If you are aware of construction without permits, construction that may not be in compliance with permits, or commercial activity in residential areas, then you may file a Request for Service, which can lead to an inspection by public works and/or planning.
Q: With property taxes being the largest revenue generator for the county, why doesn’t the county ask residents to positively certify compliance with the homeowner exemption on a yearly basis? A simple statement on the property tax assessment reminding us of what the requirement is such as, “I certify under penalty of law that I lived in the stated property a minimum of 200 days in 2012,” might suffice.
A: Indeed, it’s important to make sure that only bona fide residents receive the homeowner exemption on their property tax bill. Rather than asking residents to self-certify, the Real Property Tax Assessment Division runs the homeowner exemptions against resident taxpayer lists from the State of Hawaii, and addresses are compared to listings from the U.S. Postal Service. These comparisons are run electronically, which makes them very efficient. With over 26,500 homeowner exemption parcels, processing this much mail annually would be costly, time-consuming and less effective than the current system.
Q: I am writing about the continued decrepit condition of Amala Place in Kahului. This road is in absolutely horrible condition and creates a very bad impression of Maui as it is traveled by many tourists by way of the cruise ships and to the airport. The only safe way to traverse it – especially after a rain – is to drive on the shoulder where the pavement is in slightly better condition. Can you please see what you can do about getting this properly paved? I don’t mean filling in of potholes, which happens each time it rains.
A: The good news is that Amala Place will be repaved sometime this year in conjunction with the Wastewater Reclamation Division’s force main project. The paving project will run from Hobron Lane to the Kahului Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Ask The Mayor
Q: I got a flier from somebody at the recycling center when I went to drop off my cardboard. Is it true you’re planning to shut down all of the county recycling centers?
A: No, that is not true. There will be no changes to the current level of service until further analysis can be done, due to the amount of confusion and concern that has been expressed. Fliers had been circulated at a residential recycling drop-box center recently by employees of a private vendor that the county pays to haul residential recyclables for processing. These fliers were not generated or distributed by Maui County. The fliers provided only partial information and ensuing rumors have spawned a great deal of misinformation. The budget proposal that I sent to the County Council contains the same amount of funds for the county’s recycling program as this year, which will give us time to transition the county-subsidized residential drop-box operations to private vendors. During this transition, we anticipate that there will be no disruption to the public’s ability to recycle items at residential drop boxes. At the same time, we need to ask for help to keep costs down by recycling conscientiously and by cutting down on the amount of material that needs to be recycled in the first place. The public needs to understand that it takes about $300 of county tax money per ton per recyclable to haul and process the materials, then the processor pays even more to ship the material to a facility in Asia or on the Mainland.
Q: Do we have a concrete program to reduce the population of deer on Maui? I hear many complaints, and I can no longer grow anything in my Upcountry garden, but I don’t recall hearing about any programs in effect to stem this problem.
A: Recently, the Maui Axis Deer Working Group was awarded state grant funding from the Hawaii Invasive Species Council, and just completed the interview process for a coordinator position. The Working Group, a multistakeholder group of farmers, ranchers and hunters and resort industry, state and county officials, will work closely with the new coordinator to finalize a draft management plan, map areas that are affected, devise strategies for deer control in various regions and help mitigate damage. The Mayor’s Office of Economic Development is currently funding a grant to the Maui Axis Deer Harvesting Co-op, which was formed late last year and is already on the job with deer control on specific properties. Part of its goal is to explore the feasibility of harvesting venison that may be U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified and made available commercially in markets and restaurants. The Office of Economic Development also supplied funding support to the Working Group. Should any residents be experiencing problems with axis deer, they are encouraged to contact Agricultural Specialist Kenneth Yamamura at 270-7808 or Maui County Environmental Coordinator Rob Parsons at 270-8250.
Q: Will the new police structure being built off Piilani Highway in Kihei have solar photovoltaic panels on its roof?
A: Due to interconnectivity issues, initial plans for 400 solar photovoltaic panels at the new Kihei Police Station were not approved by Maui Electric Co. However, tentative plans are being made to issue a new, multifacility Request for Proposals that would allow solar developers to propose “micro-grids” that could allow solar PV at the site. Currently, the county has solar PV systems installed at 15 facilities. We hope to be able to add the Kihei Police Station to that list if we can work through the interconnection issues. Over the next 20 years, the county expects to save $10.4 million with nearly 56 million kilowatt-hours generated by solar energy.