Ask the Mayor

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

Q: On June 9 at approximately 9 p.m., there was a huge professional aerial fireworks display near the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa in Kaanapali. This display surprised the neighborhood since there was no published notice in The Maui News as prescribed by law. There were upset dogs since there was no warning allowing the pet owners to take precautions when there are fireworks in the vicinity. We noticed that the fireworks in Kapalua on May 31 were preceded by three days of advertising in The Maui News on May 28, 29 and 30. Even the Front Street July Fourth fireworks advertised for three days in The Maui News. What are the consequences for the omission of advertising the fireworks and does anyone ever follow up? Is there a website that we can click on to view upcoming fireworks?

A: According to our Fire Prevention Bureau, a permit was pulled for the June 9th show at the Sheraton, but at this time there is not a website with a list of upcoming fireworks. With regard to the publication of the show in the paper, there is no law that requires the advertisement of the fireworks display in The Maui News; these notices are published as a courtesy and are a practice that has been continued from past administrations. The subject show did have paperwork in the permit packet stating that the show would be announced in the paper, however if it wasn’t, there is currently no penalty by law. Our bureau has indicated it will look into other ways of having event organizers notify the public about upcoming displays, such as a webpage or other announcement.

 Q: Recently, the county has stopped picking up people’s old appliances for free, so what can I do to dispose of my large appliances without having to pay a fee?

A: It is still free for residents to drop off appliances themselves at Hammerhead Metals in the Central Maui Baseyard. Examples of appliances that can be dropped off include refrigerators, freezers, A/C units, water coolers, washers, dryers, dishwashers, ranges and hot water heaters. For hours and more info about dropping off your unwanted appliances, call Hammerhead Metals Recycling at 280-8844. There is no charge for residential drop-offs, however businesses will need to pay a fee. There is no excuse for littering or dumping, and I thank everyone for doing their part to help keep Maui no ka oi.

 Q: There are a number of people, they all look like newcomers, who stand by the roadsides with a sign asking for money. Some of my friends have actually seen these people get into nice cars after they’re done “begging” and one friend saw the same guy cleaned up with a nice aloha shirt putting gas in his car that was nicer than my friend’s! Is it legal for them to panhandle on the side of the road? There’s been a woman with a sign asking for money by the intersection of Kaahumanu Avenue and Kahului Beach Road, and a guy was sitting with a sign right by the Wailuku Bridge on the fire station side. Their presence is distracting, and I’m wondering if it’s even legal for them to be there.

A: Hawaii law does not restrict panhandling, and free speech laws actually protect a person’s right to do so. However, according to County Code 12.42.030 (“Regulation of signs”) they must refrain from creating a safety hazard by holding a sign on a median strip of a divided highway, on a traffic island or on a pedestrian or vehicular overpass structure which crosses above or adjacent to any highway. They also must not display a sign in such a way that it hides from view or interferes with the effectiveness of an official traffic control device, impedes the vision of drivers or pedestrians on a street, road or highway by using foils, reflective surfaces, mirrors or similar light-reflecting materials, or by displaying a sign on or adjacent to any street, road or highway that resembles an official traffic control device, signal or sign bearing words, symbols, characters, color and/or shape in such a manner as to interfere with, mislead or confuse pedestrian or vehicular traffic.

* 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