Ask the Mayor

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

Q: After watching Hurricane Irma devastate Florida, I wonder what buildings Maui has, specifically Upcountry, that would serve as storm shelters for a Category 4 or 5 hurricane? Where do we find a list for shelters nearby?

A: While there are a number of concrete or reinforced buildings and underground parking garages in our county that could conceivably hold up in a major hurricane, at present there are no existing public shelters in Maui County that could withstand a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. The county is assessing costs and plans for retrofitting public shelters to better withstand these types of storms. As for the shelter list, because some shelters may not be open at the time of an emergency, a list of shelters is published only when the shelters are opened. At that time, you can find the updated shelter information on the county website ( and social media. The best way to get current information during any type of emergency is by signing up for Maka’ala, the county’s emergency alert system. Visit and follow the link to sign up online for the types of alerts you would like to receive, on which types of devices (mobile phone, landline phone, email, text, fax, etc.). If you need help signing up for the alerts, you can call the Maui Emergency Management Agency (formerly civil defense) at 270-7285.


Q: When will the e-recycling program reopen? I know it’s closed this month, but I would like to know when it’s going to open again. Also, can I recycle my broken video game machine and old digital house phone?

A: The Maui County sponsored Electronics Recycling Program, E-Cycling, will reopen Oct. 31 and, yes, you can recycle your broken video game player and old phone. E-cycling will accept all TVs and TV accessories; all computers and computer accessories; all audio, phone and gaming devices; and all microwave ovens. Molokai remains open and has no restrictions. Lanai E-Cycling is event-based, also with no restrictions. For up-to-date information on E-Cycling dates, hours and what electronics are accepted, call the E-Cycling information line at 280-6460 or visit the Habitat for Humanity website at For general recycling information, visit or call the Recycling Hotline at 270-7880.


Q: Why can’t the old, unused UH-Maui College student housing (at the intersection of Kaahumanu and Waihinepio avenues, across from Papa Avenue) be used for transitional housing for the homeless? The property has just been sitting empty for years. I’m sure some homeless people would like a roof over their heads.

A: The facility you’re referring to is on land owned by the county, with the old dormitory buildings built in 1981 by the college under a lease to the University of Hawaii. Our county Department of Housing and Human Concerns is currently assessing the feasibility of turning the dorms into an affordable rental project. If plans for that type of housing move forward, the college will terminate its lease with the county. Should the county determine it is not feasible to convert the dorms into affordable rentals, the college will honor its lease and tear down the dorms. At one point, the college was considering the option of renovating the old dorms as a hospitality training center; however, during Maui County Council budget hearings the possibility of taking back the lease to build affordable rentals was discussed. At that point, it became apparent to the college that it would not be practical to build a training facility on land it did not own, so the college has since identified an on-campus location for the hospitality training center.

* 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