Ask the Mayor

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

Q: I am the general manager at a condominium and some people with medical marijuana licenses are smoking outside the building all of the time, and now it’s encouraging those without marijuana licenses to light up as well. There hasn’t been any trouble so far but I’m afraid this will encourage others to do the same. Are there any options for me? I don’t want to tell these people they can’t smoke pakalolo and then get slapped with a lawsuit for violating their rights; please help.

A: Interesting question, and I’m sorry but the county can’t offer you free legal advice, that’s not what our attorneys do. However, we can point you in the right direction and maybe your own attorney can look into this. Whether someone is smoking medicinal marijuana or tobacco or something else, we all still have to follow state law, which protects people from secondhand smoke in general. Most apartments and condos have some sort of building policy, which prohibits smoking within a certain proximity to the residential structure. You might be able to enforce that policy by quoting state law but, again, have your attorney look into that so they can make their own determination.

Q: What’s the deal with electric vs. plug-in hybrid cars parking at electric vehicle charging stations? I get harassed regularly when I’m at Costco or Target from people driving electric vehicles, telling me I can’t park there, because I can still use the gas backup in my hybrid, and that they need to “plug in right now!” My car has electric vehicle plates and as far as I know is totally legal to park and charge at these stations just like any electric vehicle, but what does the law say?

A: State law says that these charging stations are for “electric vehicles,” then defines electric vehicles as those which “draws propulsion energy from a battery with at least 4 kilowatt hours of energy storage capacity that can be recharged from an external source of electricity,” according to Hawaii Revised Statutes 291-71. As long as your vehicle fits that definition, you should be fine.

Q: I was staying in Kapalua at one of the resorts over the Memorial Day weekend when I swear I saw a large catlike creature on the property one morning. (No, I wasn’t drunk, nor had I been drinking.) The resort workers assured me that you don’t have any such animals on Maui and suggested that maybe I saw a stray dog. But then I heard later that this isn’t the first time someone saw a large cat on Maui, and that reports of a stray cougar had been made in the past. Is this true? I just want to be able to prove to the resort guys that I wasn’t crazy.

A: Ah yes, the fabled “Maui Cat.” I haven’t heard about this one for a few years but these are mostly stories that have been going on around Maui for the last three or four decades. I believe people may have reported seeing a big catlike creature in the Upcountry area as recently as the early 2000s. We actually had some cat wildlife biologists come here to see if there was some sort of big cat out there, which might have been an escaped pet perhaps, because they aren’t native to Hawaii. I don’t believe there was any evidence found that it existed. Don’t feel bad, the Maui Cat is our version of Bigfoot so I’m guessing you won’t be the last to report a sighting.

* Want to Ask the Mayor? Submit your Maui County related questions to Mayor Alan Arakawa by email at, 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