Ask the Mayor

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

Q: I want to build a house on my family property but it’s located in a flood zone. How do I get any needed permits to build in a flood zone?

A: You will need to have a flood development permit application prepared by a licensed professional engineer and architect and submitted to the Planning Department for review. You can find information on the application form and process online at Under permits, “Permits, Applications & Reviews,” click on “Development” and then select “Flood Development Permit.”

Q: I was given a ticket recently for wearing my seat belt shoulder strap under my armpit. The ticket has no box to check, other than “No seatbelt.” I don’t think I should have been fined for I was wearing my seat belt. Can you explain? Thank you.

A: According to the interpretation of the law, draping your seat belt over your shoulder does not constitute proper restraint. Hawaii Revised Statute 291-11.6 (“Mandatory use of seat belts”) states that the driver and all passengers in an operating motor vehicle must be “restrained by a seat belt assembly” (or by a child safety seat if under 8 years of age), and “restrained” means that the seat belt assembly is “worn as it was designed and intended to be worn.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides the following information on proper seat belt use: “A shoulder harness is worn across the shoulder and chest with minimal, if any slack. The shoulder harness should NOT be worn under the arm or behind the back.” In this context, improper use of a seat belt not only violates HRS 291-11.6, but also puts the seat belt wearer at risk for serious internal injuries in the event of a crash.

Q: I am a student at Kahului Elementary School and I like to play outdoors. I was told you played sports in high school. What sports?

A: While attending Maui High School in Hamakuapoko I played many sports. I played football and tennis. I was on the wrestling team and ran both track and cross country. Nowadays, to keep myself active, I play tennis and am a member of several softball teams. When I have time from my busy schedule, I like to go diving for tako. It is important to keep our bodies in shape. It is also that we do activities that will challenge our minds. Right now, you have school to keep your mind active. For me, when not working, I like to play chess and bridge. When you finally finish school, you might want to find an activity to keep your mind active. I hope you are doing well in school.

* 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