Ask The Mayor

Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.

Q: Am I allowed to shoot down a drone if it’s flying over my property? Some of these things have cameras and I swear there’s one in the neighborhood that likes to fly over our backyards and look into windows. Sorry to be so blunt but next time it flies, it dies.

A: Obviously you are frustrated; however, I would not recommend shooting any Unmanned Aircraft Systems — aka drones — out of the sky. The Federal Aviation Administration considers that a federal crime, mostly because you can’t control how it will land. A crashing UAS might damage someone’s property or, worse, injure someone. To report a low-flying aircraft, including a drone, you should call the FAA toll free at (888) 697-7813. For those flying UAS, please adhere to the following safety guidelines as listed by the FAA:

• Fly at or below 400 feet and stay away from surrounding obstacles.

• Keep your UAS within sight.

• Never fly near other aircraft, especially near airports.

• Never fly over groups of people.

• Never fly over stadiums or sports events.

• Never fly near emergency response efforts such as fires.

• Never fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

• Understand airspace restrictions and requirements.

Q. The other day when I was shopping at a local big-box store, someone brought in two supposedly “service animals” that were actually a baby goat and a potbelly pig. What are the guidelines that regulate these kinds of animals? Anyone can order a vest online, and I’ve seen dozens of fake service animals over the years including a cat, a miniature poodle, a Chihuahua and a poorly trained large mutt on a string sniffing at things in the food section. When I asked a manager about this, they were too afraid to question the pet owners because they didn’t want to violate anyone’s rights. What exactly is a service animal, and what kind of training are they supposed to receive?

A. There has definitely been a lot of confusion on this topic, so I will refer to the guidelines offered by the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service animal is a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The tasks must be directly related to the person’s disability, such as a dog that is trained to alert a diabetic person when their blood sugar reaches high or low levels. A person with epilepsy may have a dog that is trained to detect the onset of a seizure, then help the person remain safe during the seizure. However, emotional support, therapy, comfort or companion animals, which those you mentioned in the store may be, are not considered service animals under the ADA. Documentation of training is not required for service animals; however, the animal must be clean and not have a foul odor, and must not urinate or defecate in inappropriate locations. It also must exhibit standards of behavior such as not making unsolicited contact with members of the general public; not showing aggression toward people or other animals; not soliciting or stealing food or other items from the general public; obeying the commands of its handler; trained to urinate or defecate on command; remaining calmly and quietly on a harness, leash or other tether; and other behaviors. For more information and FAQs about service animals, visit www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html.

Q: I was wondering what the laws are regarding a short-term bedroom rental in my home. I live in a residential area of Wailuku without a transient vacation rental permit. I see many people on Craigslist and Airbnb advertising a bedroom for rent on a short-term basis, something I am thinking about doing too.

A: You’ll need a permit to operate legally, either a bed-and-breakfast permit for owners that live on site, or a short-term rental home permit for absentee owners. For properties on agricultural land, additional permits are required. To learn more about the permit application process and requirements, visit www.mauicounty.gov/planning and click on “Development Permits, Applications & Reviews” in the left margin; then scroll down and click on the “Short Term Rentals” link. You can also contact the Planning Department at 270-8205 for further information.

* Want to Ask the Mayor? Submit your Maui County related questions to Mayor Alan Arakawa by email at askthemayor@mauicounty.gov, 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 mayors.office@mauicounty.gov.

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