Ask The Mayor
Q: Can you direct me to the right person/office to answer this question: Are any of the county pools in Wailuku and Kahului heated, and, if so, which ones? I swim laps three days a week, and I’m looking to make a change. I am 58 years old and am partially disabled with leg and shoulder injuries resulting from an accident as a pedestrian when I was hit by a vehicle many years ago. Swimming laps is my main exercise, but it is difficult to share lap lanes. My right leg is very fragile, and it seems whenever I share a lap lane with someone my leg gets accidentally kicked, which is particularly painful.
A: The New Wailuku, Sakamoto, Kokua and Kahului pools are all heated. I would recommend Kokua Pool, which is located at 275 Uhu St. in Kahului. It is a heated, 25-yard pool with six lap lanes available to the public all day. Pool hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Sundays. Entry stairs are approximately 5 feet wide with a handrail down the middle; another option for pool entry there is the chairlift. Our pool staff informed me that the best days and times that might meet your needs are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. However, there are times when we permit large groups to use the pool throughout the year so it is not possible to guarantee availability. Please feel free to inquire with our staff at any time so they may be of assistance to you.
Q: I was at Wailea Beach a few weeks ago early in the morning and I noticed employees from the condos and nearby resorts putting out chairs and umbrellas in front of their hotels. Is this legal? Can I put my own chair and umbrella in their area and not get kicked out? Aren’t beaches in Hawaii open to all? Please advise, as it was very upsetting to see this happening. I am a concerned taxpaying Maui resident. Mahalo.
A: Our beaches and coastlines below the upper reaches of the wash of the waves are public lands, under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. The land mauka or above this point can be public or private. In many areas, the county or state control beach reserve parcels that border the high wash of the waves, used for beach parks, public access, or to provide a greater buffer between the coastline and private uses. In other areas, though, the land abutting the high wash of the waves is privately owned, including hotels, apartments, homes and businesses. To check on landownership by address, owner name, parcel number or map, you can access the county property tax website at www.mauipropertytax.com.
Q: What is the name of a feral chicken deterrent and where can you purchase it? I checked at a local hardware store, and they had no clue.
A: Unfortunately, to my knowledge there is no commercial deterrent product on the market. We held a community meeting earlier this year on the topic of feral animals, and the meeting was attended by more than 100 members of the public with a forum presented by several local and national experts. As one of the results of that meeting, I am allocating funding in my fiscal year 2015 budget proposal to the Maui Humane Society so that it can develop and implement a plan to reduce the number of feral chickens in our community; it will be up to the County Council to decide whether to allot the funds. For now, you can contact the Maui Humane Society to borrow chicken traps or to request information on additional methods of removing feral animals.
Ask The Mayor
Q: I am a Lahaina business owner and also work for one of the global hospitality leaders. A few months ago, I took a trip to the Mainland. My travels included stops at the St. Louis, Denver, Eugene, Ore., and San Francisco airports. I try to stay hydrated and usually purchase several bottles of water at the airports. In every airport I visited there were a number of accessible containers for recycling bottles and newspapers. To my dismay, when I returned home to Maui I couldn’t find one receptacle to recycle my plastic bottles. I found this nearly impossible to believe since we are such a global destination and wanting to become more “green.” Is there anything you can do to provide this important feature in our airport?
A: Thank you for the feedback. All Hawaii airports are under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Transportation Airports Division. At Kahului Airport, HI-5 beverage bottle recycling bins are available at the Transportation Safety Administration checkpoint, and recycling bins for cardboard and other materials are located in the back of house. DOT airports maintenance staff separate out cans, bottles and other things that can be recycled from rubbish bins in the secure areas as well as from the recycle containers near the TSA checkpoints. In the future, the DOT plans to have more specific recycle bins throughout its airport system.
Q: What happened to the ambulance that was stationed in Lahaina at the Lahaina Comprehensive Health Center area? For the past month, the ambulance has no longer been there. There seems to be an exercise machine parked in its place?
A: The ambulance is operated under a state contract with American Medical Response, and Lahaina Comprehensive Health Center is a state-owned building operated by the state Department of Health. According to AMR Maui Operations Manager Curt Morimoto, the ambulance had to be moved about a month ago due to a sewage leak at the building. State District Health Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang said that the building is being assessed and that any needed repairs will be made to allow AMR staff to reoccupy the building in the future. Until then, the ambulance and its paramedic crews will continue to serve the west side from its temporary Lahaina location.
Q: I live on Akala Drive in Maui Meadows, which borders Piilani Highway. There are a lot of large trucks that drive up and down the highway all day long, and they use their “Jake brakes” to slow down when they see the light at the corner of Mapu and Piilani turn red. During times of construction in Wailea or Makena this happens every couple of minutes, which makes it impossible to enjoy our yard or take a nap during the day because the noise is very loud. Is there some way we can get a “No Engine Braking” sign posted along the highway? Is there some sort of ordinance regarding engine braking near a residential neighborhood? I know when I drive on the Mainland I see these signs all over the place. Thank you for your help.
A: Piilani Highway is a state highway, and according to the state Highways Division Motor Vehicle Safety Office, there currently are no restrictions on the use of compression release engine brakes, or “Jake brakes.” The Transportation Department also says that there are no state laws in the Hawaii Revised Statutes prohibiting the use of Jake brakes.
Ask The Mayor
Q: I’ve received some unusual calls regarding a grayish white box on the telephone poles in South Kihei, from Azeka Shopping Center to Kamaole Beach Park III. The boxes have red and blue lights and are very visible at night; the lights change color from blue to red. The boxes don’t appear to belong to the county, telephone company or Maui Electric. Would you happen to know what the boxes are? Are they cameras, Wi-Fi or aliens?
A: The colored lights are power indicator lights on boxes that are part of Oceanic Time Warner Cable’s Wi-Fi system that was recently installed in South Maui. There are currently 17 devices installed in South Maui, and Wailuku town is being eyed as the next possible area for up to 125 installations over the next year. There are approximately 600 similar Wi-Fi devices installed on Oahu, including several large public facilities such as shopping malls and athletic complexes. The Maui devices installed on poles are part of a “joint pole agreement” with the corresponding utilities. Cable Wi-Fi is a wireless network name created through a collaboration of U.S. Internet service providers, including Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Cablevision, Comcast and Cox Communications. It allows each other’s high-speed Internet customers free access to a collective network of over 200,000 Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide.
Q: Why are there two refuse pickups instead of once a week like in other counties? Switching to once a week pickups could reduce costs in staff, trucks, gas, etc. Residents could also benefit with a reduction of the $18-per-month fee, or this fee could be used to expand the 3-Can-Plan, other recycling programs or expand the hours at the landfill. Most residents can manage with once-weekly collections, and residents with more trash could use and pay for two bins.
A: We can all benefit from producing less waste and recycling more, and reducing residential refuse pickups to once weekly with the option of purchasing an additional bin could be considered. However, from an operations perspective, there are a number of considerations that must be taken into account. First, the current refuse collection fee of $18 per month would still barely cover the total cost of residential refuse collection even if pickups were reduced to once a week. The heavily subsidized $18 fee does not begin to cover the cost of landfilling the trash once it’s been collected, even with once-weekly pickups. Second, employee union contracts set restrictions on the number of refuse bins that may be picked up in one day, which could be an issue if many homes on one route all opted to pay for second bins. Lastly, residential refuse customers may not be eager to have their service cut by 50 percent, or paying 200 percent more to receive the same level of service they receive now. I would be interested in hearing from residents on automated routes on whether they would prefer once-weekly pickups at a reduced cost, and if they are willing to pay for a second bin. Any changes to the fee structure or number of pickups would need to be approved by the County Council during the budget process next year.
Q: Our county is lacking an annual, biannual or quarterly published parks and recreation resource guide. Without such a guide it is easy to miss sign-ups and community activities for our residents and keiki. What will it take to create such a guide and to provide this to our community members?
A: The Department of Parks and Recreation is currently in the process of upgrading its website to house all of this information to include the organization’s contact information and time frames for registration and sign-up for these valuable recreational programs. Parks anticipates this project will be finished with updated information on the website around August; we will issue an announcement when this new feature is ready for use. In the meantime, the department provides class and program listings in various local media to reach families with children and teens.
Ask The Mayor
Q: I heard the county has an Immigrant Services Office. Is that the same thing as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services? Where are they located?
A: No, the county office provides distinctly separate functions from the federal program. There are four locations of the county’s Immigrant Services Division: One Main Plaza, Suite 547 (2200 Main St., Wailuku); Moore Center on Molokai (2 Kamoi St., Kaunakakai); Lanai Community Center (Eighth Street, Lanai City) and a satellite office that opens every Thursday in Lahaina (West Maui Senior Center, 788 Pauoa St.). While the county’s Immigrant Services Division does not provide legal representation or adjudicate citizenship cases, staff members provide free assistance to immigrants, nonimmigrants, migrants and citizens in three main areas: citizenship, employment eligibility and family-based petitions. Referrals to translators and interpreters may be provided, and if an immigrant is a victim of domestic violence or other crimes, he or she may be able to receive help. Staff also can assist with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which is a program started by President Barack Obama to assist undocumented young people who arrived in the United States as children. To see a full listing of office days/hours and services, visit “http://www.mauicounty.gov/immigrantservices”>www.mauicounty.gov/immigrantservices and click on “Summary of Services.” The Wailuku office can be reached at 270-7791.
Q: I took my mother, who is in her 80s, to the Senior Fair this year at War Memorial Gym. We both enjoyed the event, but noticed that it was sweltering inside the gym. Are there any plans to install air conditioning in the gym?
A: Depending on the time of year, it can get rather steamy in the gym when it is crowded during a special event such as the Senior Fair. However, on most days when it is being used for basketball and other gymnasium activities, the louvers’ natural ventilation does the trick. Those louvers, which are old and do not close tightly, also make it costly to adequately seal the windows for air conditioning. However, we have just begun to discuss master planning for a new sports and/or aquatics civic center for Central Maui, and air conditioning the new gym will definitely be considered.
Q: My aunty works for the county, and she told me about the newsletter that is published for county employees. Is there a way that the public can read the newsletter too? My niece was featured in one of the articles, and I’d like to get a copy.
A: Yes, the newsletter, called the “High Street Journal,” is available for digital reading online at www.mauicounty.gov/newsletter. To access a printable version, click on the link on the Web page to the pdf. The December issue will be coming out soon.
Ask The Mayor
Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.
Q: I’m considering buying a home that I’d like to turn into a bed-and-breakfast. Which county office can I contact to get information on the process to apply for a B&B permit?
A: Anyone with questions about permits for short-term rental homes or bed-and-breakfasts can call the Maui County Planning Department’s Current Planning Division at 270-8205 or visit the county website at www.mauicounty.gov/Planning and select a link under the “Hot Topics” header. There you will find links to information about both types of permits.
Q: This is something I’ve always wondered about: Do planning commission members get paid?
A: No. Members of county boards, councils, commissions and committees provide volunteer service. Members serve terms of two to five years, and help county government function more efficiently by reviewing policies, listening to public testimony and making recommendations. A few other examples of county boards and commissions include the Animal Control Board, the Board of Water Supply, the Cost of Government Commission, the Fire and Public Safety Commission, the Liquor Control Commission, the Police Commission, the newly formed Public Works Commission and the Real Property Tax Review Board. Applications are being taken now for open seats, and are available online at www.mauicounty.gov/Boards or from my office on the ninth floor of the County Building. Deadline to apply is Dec. 31. Questions may be directed to my office at 270-7855.
Q: Is it required for trucks carrying loose items to be covered? Much of roadside rubbish seems to be blown off of trucks carrying uncovered items or loads.
A: According to both the Maui County Code and the Hawaii Revised Statutes, drivers are responsible for ensuring that their load is tied down or covered properly, and that loose material from the load cannot escape into the air or onto the road. Police cite violators under state law, specifically HRS 291C-131. To read the details on requirements and penalties, read the posting on my blog at www.mauicounty.gov/Mayor and click on “Mayor’s Update” on the left. Keeping loads covered not only helps reduce the amount of debris and litter on the road, it also helps keep other drivers safe from flying objects, sand, dirt and other projectiles that could potentially cause an accident.
* Want to Ask the Mayor? Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email: AskTheMayor@mauicounty.gov, phone: 270-7855 or mail: 200 S. High Street, ninth floor, Wailuku 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column.