Ask The Mayor
Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.
Q: I live in Makawao, a mile from the school where I teach. If the bus routes Upcountry could be adjusted slightly, so that one could travel from Makawao to Pukalani without going through Kahului, I would sell my car! Three hours to buy groceries just doesn’t work for me or anybody else in Makawao. If a third route could make frequent loops in the Makawao-Pukalani area (including, say, Haliimaile, Pukalani Terrace, Pukalani Longs and downtown Makawao), then the No. 39 could stop at Longs and the No. 40 could stop at Pukalani Terrace. Or, perhaps the No. 39 and the loop could somehow be combined.
A: We are always looking at ways to expand our Maui Bus service to meet the needs of our ridership. Right now, the county Department of Transportation is in the process of examining some of the routes in the Upcountry area. The county has only recently been granted a right of entry into Kulamalu near Longs, and is working on schedule changes to address some of the requests being made by riders and area residents. Funding to add additional routes and services is not available at this time, but the department is in the process of exploring timing and routing adjustments that can be accomplished within its existing budget. If route expansion or additional services are desired, members of the community are urged to attend upcoming budget hearings in September and October so that their requests may be considered. A schedule for those budget meetings will be sent out by my office shortly.
Q: What is the policy regarding public buses stopping and blocking roads when passengers get on and off, even when it is possible for the bus to pull off the road? About two weeks ago, I was in a line of cars that got stuck behind a Kahului-bound bus at the Hana Highway in front of the Kuau Store. There was room for the bus to pull off the road. I thought this might be because the area it could pull off is private property, part of the store’s parking lot. Then last week an inbound bus blocked Haliimaile Road for several minutes as someone loaded a bicycle onto it. It the past I had always seen the buses pull into the area next to Haliimaile Park so they didn’t block the road. The loop of road that goes in and out of the parking lot makes it very easy for a bus to pull off of the main road, unless the area is very wet and muddy, which was not the case. Why didn’t this bus do so? The bus is a great service for Maui residents and visitors, and I fully understand that there may be times when blocking traffic is necessary to provide this service. However, it seems to me that the buses should pull off the road to load and unload passengers when it is safe and easy for the bus to do so.
A: We’ve answered this question before, most recently regarding some women that were left behind at the Kahului Shopping Center. But I’ll be happy to repeat the answer here because it seems to be a popular question. The standard Maui Bus driver operating procedure in servicing bus stops is to pull parallel to the curb, preferably within 6 to 12 inches from the curb. If there is a dedicated paved pull-off lane, the bus should then load and unload passengers. Drivers have been advised not to pull off on unimproved shoulders to service bus stops. This is due to the safety of riders getting on and off of surfaces that are not level, especially the elderly and disabled. Sometimes it is necessary to deploy a lift or ramp to service disabled riders and this requires a level and paved surface. The infrastructure at each bus stop is different and Maui’s rural roads are often narrow and unimproved. However, it is the goal of the department that when able, the installation of a dedicated pull-off will be considered. If you are following a Maui Bus, it’s best to stop unless the bus has pulled completely out of the lane.
Q: I work for a tour bus company and am wondering why wasn’t the road closure to Iao Valley on the Maui County road closure list one recent morning?
A: Unfortunately, those road closure notifications are for road closures that involve our Maui Police Department personnel. In the case of that gate located along Iao Valley Road, it is controlled by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. My staff has spoken to DLNR personnel, and they confirmed that they did send out a news release the July 18 prior, to say that they would be closing their Maui forest reserves as well as Iao Valley State Park until July 21 due to the storm that was expected over the weekend.
Because DLNR staff had to clear debris from the park, that gate was not reopened until noon. However, you are correct in pointing this out, because we should be doing a better job coordinating scheduled road closures between the state and our Police Department. DLNR has said it will speak to the Police Department to discuss how to get its closures on our notifications.
* Want to Ask the Mayor? Submit your Maui County related questions to Mayor Alan Arakawa by email at “mailto:email@example.com”>firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 email@example.com.
Ask The Mayor
Q: I am curious about the Lego-style barriers on the corner of Piilani Highway and Kilohana Road by the Wailea Fire Station.
These cement barriers have been there for quite some time, but have now been painted a forest green color and have little yellow reflectors on them! What are they?
A: Those Lego-type blocks, as you describe them, are concrete barriers placed there by the Department of Parks and Recreation to keep people from dumping illegally on parks property. For a while, people were using that corner of Piilani and Kilohana as a dumping ground. The area is a parcel of land obtained by the county many years ago and originally was to be the site of a park and police and fire station. Although a fire station was built, the rest is undeveloped park property. Over the years the county has received numerous complaints about the area being used as a dumping grounds for construction materials, dirt, etc. Also, people would park heavy equipment in the area, creating dust and diesel fumes drifting into the condos across the street.
The barriers were put up some time ago to keep vehicles out of the area and to prevent illegal dumping and other activities. As far as the color goes, I haven’t been able to confirm this but from what I understand, either parks or a community group had the barriers painted green to cover up the graffiti to make it more visually pleasing.
Q: I frequent Baby Beach in Spreckelsville but have gotten confused when people also refer to another baby beach next to the Paia Youth & Cultural Center. Are there two beach parks with the same name in Paia and Spreckelsville?
A: Actually, the beach park you are referring to next to the Paia Youth & Cultural Center, the one with the basketball courts, is officially listed as the “Lower Paia Park” on our county property tax maps. But for many decades and to this day, longtime residents refer to that park as “Baby Park.” This was because it was viewed as the “baby brother” to the much larger H.P. Baldwin Park right up the street along Hana Highway. The confusion began later, after newer residents began frequenting a particular beach in Spreckelsville located at the end of Baldwin Beach and nicknamed it “Baby Beach,” because it is protected by a reef and perfect for infants and young children to go swimming. So to answer your question, yes, there is a “Baby Beach” in Spreckelsville and a “Baby Park” in Paia, even though neither is the official name for either area.
Q: I read one of your answers to “Ask the Mayor” regarding the plans for the north-south connector road. I got deeper involved than I should have, but found some rather interesting and puzzling street misnomers involving the very street that might the future connector road. The problem the way I see it is the confusing naming of a number of streets but all named “E. Welakahao Rd.” It might be purely a Google mistake but the mistake rubbed off to some county maps as well. The “main” E. Welakahao Road runs from Piilani Highway to South Kihei Road and becomes South Welakahao Road to the end at the beach. No problem there but if you look at the Google map, the road leading off East Welakahao at the Hope Chapel and heading south is also named East Welakahao Road. Farther down that road is another short road leading east of that road and is also labeled East Welakahao Road and ends at the Piillani Highway. Furthermore, the road from Piilani Highway to the water treatment plant is also labeled East Welakahao Road. This mistake might have been around for a long time and had never bothered anyone but I thought I bring it to your attention.
A: You are correct, our Department of Public Works says Google Maps has misnamed some streets in that area of Kihei. Not only that, but Google Maps also seems to have gotten the boundaries of South Maui Regional Park wrong as well. We will look into this and make any necessary corrections. Mahalo for taking the time to research this and point this out. Members of the public who might notice other discrepancies with Google Maps can click on the “Report a problem” link near the bottom, right-hand corner of any Google Map.
Ask The Mayor
Q: The parking lots at Kamaole Park II and Kamaole Park III in Kihei are in need of repair, especially Kamaole III at the north entrance. When are these parking lots going to be resurfaced?
A: Not immediately. Although these are heavily used, very popular parks, we have a limited budget and need to concentrate on public safety improvements at our other parks. We had requested $2 million for parks projects, of which the Kamaole II and III park repaving would have been included, but in the end we only had $655,000 approved by the Maui County Council. We will try again for the next fiscal year to get these projects approved.
Q: What has happened to the development of the dog park in Makawao? Many people volunteered their time and energy in planning and preparing the land that was made available by the county. Our dogs need a space to run off-leash and it seemed things were progressing nicely. However, the development now seems to be at a standstill.
A: First of all, mahalo to the community volunteers for putting their time and sweat equity into this important project for Upcountry dog lovers. Please note that our parks planners still are working on the major infrastructure improvements needed before the Makawao Dog Park can be completed. Issues with drainage, potential grading and clearing of the land are currently being addressed so that other checklist items such as fencing, water fountain, American with Disabilities Act access and parking and prep work can be considered. These infrastructure improvements will be appreciated by park users once they are done and make for a better designed park in general. Again, many thanks for the hard work of our volunteers and for your patience as this project moves forward.
Q: Ask the Mayor is such a great feature. There has been a lot of work done along Kilohana Road over the past few months. It all looks very promising. What is the plan? Is the north-south collector road going to be opened up? Thank you.
A: Thank you for the compliment! As for your question, I am not sure which portion of the north-south collector road you are referring to but I have some updated information for you that applies to certain areas. Towne Realty just initiated construction on the portion of the collector road from Alanui Ke Alii to Keonekai Road. Also, the portions of the road from Ka Ono Ulu to Waipuilani roads and from Halekuai Street to Auhana Road will be built in phases over many years. Federal funds are required for these projects, and we are looking to get the first phase slotted into the federal pipeline around 2019.
Ask The Mayor
Q: I heard that you can get free plants from the Department of Water Supply. First off, are these native plants and if so, where can I pick them up and how many can I take home?
A. Those plants were provided by Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, and I believe the last place I saw them being handed out was during Earth Day. However, our Department of Water Supply still does give out free low-flow fixtures daily. This includes shower heads, faucet aerators for the kitchen and bathroom and leak detection dye tablets. Please stop by the water department offices on the fifth floor of the county building to take advantage of these water-saving devices. Also, native plants that require little water are a good investment for your backyard. While we do not give away free plants, we still have a wealth of information about xeriscaping in our County of Maui Landscape and Gardening Handbook. For more information, go to our county website at www.mauicounty.gov and check out the Water Conservation Section of the water department Web page.
Q. These drownings we keep having are ridiculous. Kauai has a video playing in their airport about ocean safety, and we need to do the same at least. Why can’t we take some of those millions that we give to the Maui Visitors Bureau and do some ocean safety education? Some of our tourists have never been in the ocean before in their life, and they’re getting into serious trouble out there. We’ve got to do something, please. Thank you.
A: I did some checking and that Kauai ocean safety video was a community project done by the Rotary Club of Kapaa. It is a great idea, and I believe our Maui Visitors Bureau is speaking with our local Rotary clubs, as well as the state Department of Transportation, to see if something similar can be set up at the Kahului Airport. Education is key, especially for visitors who may not be strong swimmers. And yes, you are correct in saying that some of them have never even been in the ocean before. Also, looking at the victims, police, fire, lifeguards and even our friends in the U.S. Coast Guard all say the same thing, that many people who drown have pre-existing medical conditions and perhaps should not have been in the water in the first place. MVB has an annual safety and security meeting for hotel, condos and time shares where some of this information is covered, but I believe we need more outreach. A safety video in the baggage claim area where we have a captive audience while visitors wait for their luggage sounds like a good place to start.
Q: Homeless people in the gravel parking lot next to the Paia Post Office are making the area unsafe. Some stay there overnight and get angry if you park too close to their cars, which they live in. I am sympathetic to the homeless situation but can’t we do something about this?
A: Our police department has been made aware of the situation and signs have been put up in that parking lot to say that vehicles will be towed away after hours. There should not be a problem with people living in that lot anymore. Also, please contact police directly by dialing 911 if you are accosted or threatened.