Ask The Mayor

Q: I was saddened to hear about the 20-year-old German tourist who died of her injuries from the shark bite. Why is it we have lifeguard towers stationed at some beaches and not others? I know in the past lifeguards will close beaches down if they spot a shark or if someone reports seeing a shark. A lifeguard at that beach might have saved that girl’s life.

A: County of Maui provides lifeguards on those beaches where we have county parks located adjacent to it, however the primary responsibility for much of our coastline belongs to the State of Hawaii or private landowners. The county has Ocean Safety towers at eight of our high-use county beach parks. Smaller county beach parks, like Launiupoko Beach Park, do not have towers (although we are looking into placing lifeguards at Launiupoko as it is a busy beach as well). Right now, the beaches with towers are Kamaole I, II and III, Hanakao’o Beach (aka Canoe Beach), DT Fleming Beach Park, Kanaha Beach Park, HA Baldwin Beach Park and Ho’okipa Beach Park. During summer months when our PALS program brings children to swim at Hana Bay on Fridays, we have lifeguards there as well. We also have county lifeguards at Big Beach, which is state property, but that is only because we have a contract with the state for services there. And yes, Ocean Safety has a protocol that it follows for shark sightings and attacks. Should an individual see a shark close to the shoreline or where water activities are taking place, they should call 911 immediately and dispatch will notify the appropriate first responders, whether they are county lifeguards, police, fire and/or EMS personnel. At that time, lifeguards will use their personal watercraft and ATVs to patrol the water and the beach to see if they can verify the sighting. If there is a verification of a shark in the area, the beach will be closed for a mile in either direction and then be monitored. If there is no verified activity after two hours, the beach will reopen to the public. Should the shark actually bite someone, the beach will be closed until the end of the day and, in the morning, lifeguards and state Department of Land and Natural Resource officials will observe the area, usually reopening the beach at noon if there is no further activity.

Q: When is the county going to do something about Kokomo Road? It is incredibly dangerous and long overdue for resurfacing.

A: You are absolutely right, Kokomo Road is in bad shape. It’s a combination of the wet weather and clay in the soil underneath which causes the road to deteriorate faster than other roads in the county. The good news is that Kokomo Road has been listed as a road that qualifies for federal aid funds. This means that the federal government will pay for 80 percent of the costs, so the county can go ahead and not just resurface the road but rebuild it. A good example of a rebuilt road is Haliimaile Road. We hope to begin work on Kokomo Road within the next two years. It may seem like a long time now, but it will be worth it in the end because a reconstructed road lasts for about 30 years, compared to 10 years for a resurfaced road.

Q: Is there a simple way to find out about break-ins on my street or in my neighborhood?

A: Yes. Go to and you will find a search engine that allows you to punch in your address to find your neighborhood. On the left-hand side you can choose what kind of offenses you want to search for, whether it’s robberies, DUIs, assaults or, in your case, residential burglaries. Make sure you indicate the “date range” (for example, June 1 to Aug. 1) or the engine will only search for offenses committed during the present month.

Ask The Mayor

Q: Why on Maui are trucks allowed to have oversized tires sticking out past fender walls? How are these vehicles passing safety inspections? Why aren’t police enforcing? I was hit in the face by gravel flying out from a truck with fat tires. Fender guards are supposed to protect pedestrians, mopeds and bicyclists from this. And for safety reasons, what are the restrictions on bumper heights?

A: Tires are not allowed to extend beyond the fender well, and Maui police officers do cite for oversized tires on vehicles. In fact, since December of 2012, MPD has issued 259 citations for tires extended beyond the fender. Police enforce these laws to prevent accidents where rocks and other objects are free from containment of a fender well, and by force of the moving tire are thrown outward and potentially onto other motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. Under HRS 291-35.1, maximum bumper heights of motor vehicles are determined by the gross vehicle weight rating of the vehicle and vary between 22 inches for passenger vehicles to 35 inches for vehicles weighing 7,501 to 10,000 pounds.

Q: The issue with brush fires is not new but it seems they have definitely increased. The news has stated some of these fires have been started by fireworks. Why, with the years of drought and increasing fires, has Maui not banned the sales and use of fireworks? Oahu banned them years ago.

A: A statewide ban has been proposed for many years now, but has not been instituted. Over the years there have been some strides in the right direction by requiring a permitting process for firecrackers (which cause smoke and inhalation issues but generally are not linked to brush fires). Other rules that have been suggested include banning any types of fireworks that travel more than 12 feet, further restricting the duration of sales of the products and enforcing specific hours for use. We have in the past considered a fireworks ban within Maui County. Many individuals and families enjoy fireworks safely during the appropriate holiday times; however, the few that do not create dangerous conditions for others. On New Year’s Eve, a house fire caused $177,000 in damage; it was suspected to have been caused by illegal aerial fireworks. Numerous other incidents during each holiday – an average of five to six fires per day over each three-day period – keep firefighters very busy. It is my hope that the public will abide by existing restrictions to help keep people and property safe while enjoying the cultural celebrations that are an important part of our islands’ heritage.

Q: We purchased our home about four years ago, and the previous owner, a contractor, left several 5-gallon containers of latex- and oil-based paint and various solvents. They are not usable anymore and we want to get rid of them. I want to dispose of everything properly. How do I do this? Who should I call to find out what to do?

A: Questions about hazardous waste and recycling in general can be directed to the Department of Environmental Management website, “”> The Environmental Protection Agency has two categories of hazardous waste. If it’s generated by a home, it’s considered Household Hazardous Waste, but if it’s generated by a business, it’s classified as Commercial Hazardous Waste. According to EPA regulations, all HHW can be disposed of in Subtitle “D” landfills; all county landfills are Subtitle “D.” Liquids present a problem, and members of the public are asked to not put liquid HHW in their county refuse container, as it may damage the truck and/or cause fires as rubbish is compacted. Instead, HHW liquids should be absorbed, triple-bagged and taken to the landfill or a convenience center such as Olowalu. Small amounts of liquids may be evaporated, and small quantities of paint can be dried out then disposed of in your refuse can. However, Commercial Hazardous Waste must be properly disposed of by a hazardous waste disposal company; the 5-gallon containers you mention would fall under this category. For contact information on the hazardous waste disposal companies that service Maui County, please visit or call the Recycle Maui County Hotline at 270-7880. You can also email questions to

Ask The Mayor

Q: For more than a few months I’ve been aware of some horses along the road near Maalaea. They appear to have no shade and have mostly dirt for grazing. These horses need protection from the sun, the heat and driving rain. (Although this area obviously doesn’t receive much rain, I wonder what cover were they able to take during Tropical Storm Flossie, with the rain and lightning.) Although I personally haven’t reported this specific instance, I have come across similar instances of lack of shade or cover/proper care for animals and reported them. While some have been reconciled and changes made, other situations go unchanged and the animals continue to suffer unnecessarily. I am asking you to please hold Maui Humane Society accountable for enforcing the laws pertaining to animal welfare. Please keep the animals in mind. They do not have a voice, so we need to speak up for them and their well-being. Thank you.

A: I asked the Maui Humane Society about the horses at Maalaea, and CEO Jocelyn Bouchard said that MHS is aware of the situation and has previously looked into it. She indicated that the horses do have some shelter under trees that provide adequate protection from the sun, as well as some protection from wind and rain. The area does not get a lot of rain so sun protection is the greatest concern. According to the horses’ owner, the animals are moved between a few locations, thus the Maalaea field is not a permanent location. Bouchard mentioned that she has consulted with numerous veterinarians, national experts in animal care programs and other animal enforcement professionals who agree that trees can, in fact, be adequate shelter for horses, and barns are not always necessary. That being said, MHS does investigate and document every call from the public and enforces county and state laws through a variety of measures, including education for the animal owner, citations and follow-up visits. MHS encourages and acts on these kind of reports from concerned citizens, however they must base their actions on applicable laws and professional expertise rather than solely on public perception and opinions. Sometimes it may appear that “nothing is being done” when the situation is actually being addressed and/or monitored. For more information, visit “”>

Q: With water rates going up and conservation always a concern Upcountry, what assistance is available for senior citizens living in older homes to identify and repair water leaks?

A: The issue of conserving water and catching leaks quickly is something that concerns us all, especially seniors living on a fixed income. The Department of Water Supply recently instituted a new monthly billing system and online water usage website that can help identify leaks more quickly than the old system that billed customers every two months. To view your water usage, visit and click on “View your bill online.” You can also get more water-saving tips and review water-quality reports on the website. DWS provides free water-saving fixtures such as low-flow showerheads, hose nozzles and bathroom and kitchen faucet aerators. Customers can also receive free toilet tank bags, which help save 0.8 gallons per flush on older, high-flush toilets (3.5, 5 or 7 gpf). If you have an older toilet that is leaking due to a damaged flapper valve, DWS also has a limited quantity of water-saving retrofit flapper valves for use on 3.5-gallon or larger tank toilets. To inquire about any of these and other water-saving devices, visit and click on “Low Flow Fixture Data Form” to apply for the free items. You can also complete the form in-person at the DWS Water Resources and Planning Division, located at One Main Plaza (2200 Main St., No. 102, Wailuku) or at the deputy director’s office on the fifth floor of the county building (no need to wait in line at the payment window). Incidentally, water payments can now be made on the second floor (lobby level) of the county building. With regard to water rates, “Tier 1” water rates for up to 5,000 gallons per month are purposely kept low ($1.80 per thousand gallons) as a “lifeline” rate for essential water usage. The DWS does not maintain waterlines on private property, so consumers should contact a plumber for assistance with any leaks on their property.

* Want to Ask the Mayor? Submit your Maui County related questions to Mayor Alan Arakawa by email at askthemayor@, by phone at 270-7855 or by mail at 200 S. High St., ninth floor, Wailuku 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column; to request a personal response to a concern, email

Ask The Mayor

Q: During Tropical Storm Flossie, the lightning in Central Maui was the most frequent and strong I have ever seen on Maui over many years. I grew up in Illinois and all the residences there had lightning protection. Does Maui County have any regulations about lightning protection?

A: According to our county Public Works and Planning directors and staff, Maui County does not have building code or electrical code requirements regarding lightning protection because they are not mandated in the national codes that our local codes are based on. Homeowners may opt to have a licensed electrician install a lightning protection system as long as it meets existing standards for height and other code considerations. Home Lightning Protectors (HLP) are recommended for areas that are susceptible to common lightning strikes, mostly in the Midwest. Many utility companies install lightning protectors on their lines to help prevent such accidents from happening.

Q: The Makena Surf has one of the most beautiful beaches on the south side. With the condos built, there only are very limited parking spaces available for the residents and visitors who want to experience this very special beach setting. Parking along the street was acceptable until recently, when tickets were issued for illegal parking, even though there are no “no parking” signs anywhere and no curbs are painted red or yellow. As a resident of Maui, I would appreciate it if you could ask the police department to stop ticketing cars parked along the curb, so more people can enjoy this very beautiful location.

A: According to Maui Police Department, the area you are referring to is a marked bicycle lane. Driving or parking on a bikeway is prohibited by state law under Hawaii Revised Statute 291C-123. Unless exempt due to being stalled or broken or assisting a stalled or broken vehicle or as a federal, state or county vehicle or an authorized emergency vehicle, anyone violating the parking prohibition shall be fined not more than $500. MPD officers will continue to enforce this state law when violations occur. The roadway is marked with the bicycle symbol, with signs posted in the area. From a planning perspective, it’s important that we picture what we want our community to look like 50, 100 or even 200 years from now so we can work to create that vision. Open space and parking access are two components we need to plan for.

Q: My mom noticed an “Ask the Mayor” question in The Maui News a while back about potholes on Vevau Street in Kahului. Mom was born and raised in Kahului and grew up on 4th Street back in the 1920s, ’30s, ’40s and early ’50s. Just a historical question: Does anyone know why the street name was changed to Vevau Street from 4th Street? My mom is now in her 80s and this question is still lingering. She would love to get an answer. Mom lives on the Mainland now, but a relative who lives on Maui sends my mom articles so she can read them.

A: After checking with staff from our Public Works Department, which is charged with maintaining county roads, it seems that the numerical names for streets in Kahului were used initially for planning purposes. As the area developed, the names were changed as needed. Staff provided me with a hand-drawn map of Kahului, dated 1907, showing the proposed layout for the area. To view the map, visit and click on “Mayor’s Activities” on the Blog menu. I hope the map brings back pleasant memories for grandma, and for anyone else who might enjoy a glimpse of the roads in Central Maui in the very early 1900s!