Ask The Mayor
Q: Is there a reason why Mokulele Highway doesn’t have a 55-mph speed limit? It certainly was safely built for speeds like that and seems an obvious speed limit for the situation. Can your office help in getting this changed? This would help with keeping in line with the 55-mph speed limit set for other highways on Maui. The current 45-mph speed limit is too slow and creates a seven-mile-long speed trap.
A: Mokulele Highway is a state-controlled roadway, and the county does not have jurisdiction over the speed limits. According to the state Department of Transportation, the posted 45-mph speed limit on a portion of Mokulele Highway is appropriate under existing conditions. Along the approximately 5.8 roadway miles from Hansen Road to Piilani Highway, there are five signalized intersections and two unsignalized intersections (one being signalized in the future) spaced between 0.33 miles and 1.4 miles apart. In general, signalized intersections are not posted higher than 45 mph to minimize rear-end crashes and red light-running. Raising the speed limit between signalized intersections for short distances (less than two miles) increases the potential for intersection crashes due to noncompliance with the 45-mph speed limit through the intersection. In addition, raising the speed limit would be contrary to the state’s “Complete Street” policy in considering all users of the roadway. For more information, visit hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/.
Q: I want to know why camping is now allowed at Waihee Beach Park, when you clearly have a sign down there that reads “No Camping.” You are going to have homeless people down there again, setting up house. The park is for everyone to enjoy. Please clear the park and enforce, “No Camping!”
A: Waihee Beach Park is regularly monitored and parks staff frequently remove campers who do not have permission to be there. While there is no permitted camping at the county beach park, approval for nonprofit organizations and groups to camp in this area for special events is approved through the director’s office. Groups must submit their request in writing in a letter to the parks director. A list is kept in the director’s office to track which organizations have permission to camp there for special events, and the contact person for each group.
Q: I live in a condominium next to a nursery, and the past three nights I’ve been hearing the distinct sounds of coqui frogs. I know this is a serious problem that can spread quickly if not taken care of right away. Besides calling the nursery to let them know, is there another agency I can call?
A: According to my environmental coordinator, Rob Parsons, you can call the Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC), a partnership that receives partial funding from the county to protect our islands from the most harmful invasive plants and animals that threaten our environment, economy and quality of life. MISC works to prevent invasive species from becoming established on Maui, Molokai and Lanai, controls invasive species on private and public property, and educates people about invasive species and how to protect Maui County. Current control projects include coqui frogs, the veiled chameleon, fountain grass, ivy gourd, miconia and pampas grass. On Maui there are six identified populations of coqui frogs in and around nurseries, residential areas and one large natural area. MISC has a full-time crew that spends much of its time clearing habitat and controlling coqui frogs on Maui. They work with landowners to find and remove the coqui. The nocturnal frogs are native to Puerto Rico but have no natural predators or competitors in Hawaii to keep populations in check. The tiny frogs may eat large quantities of insects (but not mosquitos), which can disrupt the balance of vulnerable native ecosystems. Economically, coqui infestations cause decreased plant export sales, while the high-decibel mating calls of the male coqui negatively impact real estate values and disrupt sleep for both residents and visitors. With large numbers of coqui on the Big Island, we are always at risk of new introductions. You can ensure you are not introducing coqui to your property by purchasing landscaping plants from businesses participating in MISC’s Coqui-free Certification program. For more information, visit www.coquifreemaui.org, or www.hawaiiinvasivespecies.org/iscs/misc/. You can also check out MISC’s Facebook page or call them at 573-6472.
Ask The Mayor
Q: I’ve been following the proceedings on the Old Wailuku Post Office with interest. Now that the site is being used for parking, who gets to park there and how were those people chosen?
A: The parking lot is being used for county employees to help alleviate the strain on limited parking available on Wailuku side streets and in the municipal lot near Market Street. The employees were granted parking based on their position at the top of the very long wait list for employee parking stalls. Many of those who received a permit had waited about 10 years to get a parking stall.
Q: I have called the Maui Humane Society on numerous occasions concerning unleashed dogs in my Kahului neighborhood to no avail. Animals can be unpredictable, and the dogs have been pooping in the yards of neighbors. As I’m writing this at 6 a.m., one dog is on the loose waiting for an accident to happen. The dogs can also be seen on the loose after 5 p.m. after business hours. In the past when I called the Humane Society to report the problem, a field officer came out while the dogs were loose in her presence. After she left, the dogs were still loose. The situation is beyond my control. What can be done to resolve this kind of neglect and nuisance?
A: It could be that the animal control officer was not able to determine which dogs lived at which residence, and that the officer tried but was unable to catch the dogs. I asked Jocelyn Bouchard of the Humane Society about your situation, and she said that it’s important to determine which home(s) the dog(s) belong to, so the owner(s) can be warned and/or cited for a leash law violation. She also indicated that neighbors can take photos, even with a cellphone, to provide evidence of the dogs running loose off-property. This evidence is grounds for a citation even if the dogs were not personally witnessed off-property by the responding officer. The county now offers dog owners a dog park in Central Maui at Keopuolani Park, so that dogs can enjoy running free and socializing in a controlled environment. We are working on an Upcountry dog park and will continue to provide new areas for responsible dog owners to enjoy their pets without endangering and inconveniencing others.
Q: We were at Ka’a Point Beach Park recently, and while my young son swam in the designated swim area (fishpond) some kitesurfers approached the pond at high rates of speed very close to my son. My wife called the state Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement number as we were instructed to by the lifeguards as well as by various county/state agencies. She was only able to leave a message. The area in question is a “designated swim-only zone,” so I need to know if this law going to be enforced? Please let me know whether my child will be able to swim safely in the designated swim zone at Ka’a Point. Mr. Mayor, please don’t let a serious injury to an unsuspecting swimmer be the catalyst to have the signage installed. It is only a matter of time before a serious injury occurs to other beach users.
A: I have received several inquiries about the dangers presented when both swimmers and kiters are in the water at Ka’a Point. According to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, Ka’a Point is designated as swimming-only at the pond. County ocean safety officials have been working in conjunction with state officials to address this situation. Some background: The county’s jurisdiction is from the high-water mark and up. Jurisdiction from the high-water mark to the low mean water mark is DLNR-Land Division and from the low mean water mark to three miles out to sea is DLNR-Boating Division. DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) officers are tasked with enforcement. DLNR is planning signage for the area so that existing rules can be properly enforced. Rule amendments are not being proposed at this time. Members of the public who would like to request or propose a rule change may write to DLNR Chairman William Aila, P.O. Box 621, Honolulu 96809 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The amendment process, which is lengthy, would require a public hearing and approval by the land board. For more information on DOCARE, go to the website dlnr.hawaii.gov/docare/. To report a violation, call 643-3567.
Ask The Mayor
Q: During the past two weeks, the traffic light at Haleakala Highway and North Firebreak Road has malfunctioned. I have had eight red lights while traveling on Haleakala Highway when there has been no traffic on North Firebreak Road to trigger the change in light. Who is responsible for this and when will it be fixed?
A: The reality is that because some roadways are maintained by the state and some by the county, it’s often hard to know who to call. For traffic signals and other problems along state roads or highways, such as Haleakala, Mokulele, Piilani and Honoapiilani highways, you should call the state Department of Transportation Highways Division at 873-3535. To report problems on county roads or if you’re not sure whether the road is county or state, call the county’s traffic signal office at 270-7910 between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. during the week. After-hours and on weekends, call the Maui Police Department’s nonemergency line at 244-6400 to report a malfunctioning traffic signal.
Q: I wanted to share a few concerns that I have. Recently, there have been a lot of permanent “No Parking” signs posted at Hookipa, which is one of Maui’s most heavily used parks. Watch when the surf gets good this coming winter. There will be people having to park out by the highway and that could create greater dangers for motorists and pedestrians, as well as a liability for the county and state. I also requested through the police department that more speed bumps and “Go Slow” signs be posted along the one-way drive through Hookipa. I’m a 43-year resident and feel these issues are very important and that it would be in everyone’s best interest if these needs were addressed quickly.
A: Thank you for sharing your concerns. According to the Department of Parks and Recreation, the permanent “No Parking” signs were installed at Hookipa because emergency vehicle access was regularly being blocked by parked vehicles; these signs were replacements for ones that over the years had been broken, removed and vandalized but never replaced. The signs are designed to restrict parking near the fire lane to ensure that emergency vehicles can access the park. Last week, staff was able to reconfigure a few of the “No Parking” signs to allow for additional parallel parking spaces while maintaining the fire lane access. A new parking area at Hookipa also is being discussed. However, none of the potential parking sites are currently owned by the county. It will take time for the planning, funding and construction phases, as well as time for the public and County Council to weigh in on their vision for this important north shore destination. On another note, the parks department is in the process of securing a contractor for the repainting of parking lines.
Q: Are there are any plans to bring back Sundays at the rubbish dump – especially for homeowners who work six days a week, Monday to Saturday, and can only work on their yards on Sundays?
A: The Central Maui Landfill is open Monday through Saturday, from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Several years ago, Sunday landfill service was discontinued and the County Council permanently deleted positions that had previously been used to staff the Sunday hours. We currently do not have the funding or manpower to open on Sundays again, as it is significantly more expensive to keep the landfill open on the weekends than it is during the week, when commercial tipping fees help offset operations costs. If you feel this is an important funding priority, please let me know by sending me an email at email@example.com.
Ask The Mayor
Q: I’ve been hearing about a lot of staph infections in adults and children who went swimming at Hana Bay, even several from one family. What is being done to curb the infections?
A: My office has been working closely with the state Department of Health to assess the situation in Hana. Based on its findings, the DOH maintains that the number of staph infections is not higher than normal for the summer months. Staph bacteria is present on everyone’s skin and can cause infection when it enters a break in the skin such as a cut or scrape. Once an infection sets in, it can easily be spread by sharing towels or through skin-to-skin contact – which explains why family members can unknowingly pass the bacteria to one another. The best defense is to keep wounds such as cuts, scratches, mosquito bites or even pimples clean and covered. Don’t share towels, and wash hands frequently with soap and water. Paddlers may be susceptible to cuts and scratches while getting in and out of boats, so it’s important to take note anytime there is a break in the skin and to wash with soap and water after swimming. More information on preventing staph infections is available by calling DOH at (808) 984-8213 or visiting cdc.gov/mrsa.
Q: When businesses use signs and banners for advertising, how many can they put up and what sizes are allowed? Also, how much does the permit cost?
A: There is a wide variety of permissible signs and banners, governed by Chapter 16.13, Maui County Code. Online, you can visit www.mauicounty.gov/laws, then select “Maui County Code,” then view Chapter 16.13. The sizes for certain types of signs are limited by the building setbacks and frontages as well as by zoning districts. Individual sign permits have a $55 filing fee; banners or promotional signs are limited to 14 days and have a $25 filing fee. For multitenant business buildings, a comprehensive signage plan is required. For more information, call the Planning Department at 270-7735 or visit the department at One Main Plaza, Suite 315.
Q: I live in Kahului. My neighbor’s property is infested with mice and they are coming over to my house. Which government agency can I call to get some help?
A: Because rodent infestation can present a formidable health hazard, the function called “Vector Control” is handled by the state Department of Health, Environmental Health section. More information is available online at health.hawaii.gov/maui.
Ask The Mayor
Q: I have recently become aware of various colored headlights of vehicles when driving at night. The colors range from light yellow (which I think is the standard) to a bright orange, light to darker blue and even a turquoise color. I thought if anyone can answer my question, you can (I enjoy reading your column in The Maui News). So can you please tell me if there is a county or state agency regulating this matter of colored headlights? And will use of these colored lights pass safety inspection?
A: Some vehicles may be equipped with high-intensity discharge headlamps, which are in compliance with federal motor vehicle safety standards. At certain distances or angles, these HID headlamps may appear to have a colored or blue appearance; however, at close range, they emit a white light. Other headlights that do not emit a white light should not pass safety inspection. Hawaii Revised Statutes, Section 291-25 (b) require motor vehicle headlamps to “display white light.” On a federal level, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has regulated headlamp bulbs since about 1983. The NHTSA approved federal rules requiring the color of both the lower-beam headlamps and upper-beam headlamps to be “white.” The official State of Hawaii safety inspector’s manual for “Inspectors of Passenger Cars and Light Trucks” references the federal rules as a standard. Thus, in order for the car to pass safety inspection, the color of the headlamp beams must be white. According to the HRS, any motor vehicle not properly equipped with lights in conformity with this section is prohibited from use from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise. Violations carry a fine of not more than $10. Each violation shall be deemed a separate offense, and a subsequent violation of the same provision within a one-year period shall be subject to twice the fine imposed upon the prior conviction.
Q: What is up with those ugly white plastic posts near Pioneer Inn and the Banyan Tree? They were put up to designate no-parking zones, but why not put in concrete islands with plants?
A: Plans are taking shape to improve the area around Lahaina Harbor and Banyan Tree Park through a county-funded grant received by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation. LRF recently concluded the concept phase of “The Imagine Project,” which included several months of public meetings to gather ideas and priorities for the area. The project covers the area between Lahaina Harbor and Front Street, and Market Street to Canal Street. The public input received during the concept phase identified several main areas of interest: emphasizing cultural and historic sites in the area; easing traffic congestion, managing the resources in the area; making the area safer for all users; and beautifying the area. A final report will be issued soon, and will be available online at www.lahainarestoration.org.
Q: Driving from Kaanapali, within a few feet of a handsome Lahaina entry sign, sits an ugly concrete block building that obstructs what would be a beautiful view of the ocean. After the construction in the area is completed, are there plans to take down the building and beautify the area?
A: The building you refer to is part of a small baseyard utilized by the West Maui district of the Department of Parks and Recreation. It also happens to be situated in the area where the Department of Environmental Management is working on a force main replacement project. Once the construction is finished, the building is targeted for a mini-facelift, which will include paint and other aesthetic upgrades until a new location for a West Maui parks baseyard can be identified, funding secured and a facility built to house the tools and equipment used to maintain county parks in West Maui.