Speeding on Eha Street in Wailuku has been a concern for Iao Parkside residents for years, and a bill passed by the Maui County Council on Thursday may provide the residents some hope in remedying the problem with their privately owned, substandard road.
The 37-page bill, which was approved on second and final reading, includes dozens of what some council members called "much-needed updates" to Title 18 of the Maui County Code relating to subdivisions.
"Title 18 has remained relatively intact for many years. As a result, the processing of subdivision applications are unnecessarily cumbersome for both the applicant and county staff," council Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee Vice Chairwoman Stacy Crivello said. "The proposed bill updates these procedures in a current manner."
Weeds grow along the sides of Wailuku’s Eha Street as traffic passes by Wednesday. Residents of Iao Parkside have been concerned about speeding on the privately owned road that runs by their development for years. The county has not accepted the road in the past because it does not meet standards. However, a measure passed Thursday by the County Council may offer a path to county acceptance of the road.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
The amendments include a caveat that would loosen the county's current guidelines for accepting streets, pavements, waterlines or other similar infrastructure from developers. Currently, privately owned roadways like Eha Street cannot be accepted by the county until they reach "full compliance" with county standards.
KLD Holding LLC, a company controlled by Stanford Carr Development, which owns the roadway from Alua to Imi Kala streets, has worked to make some improvements to the street but has failed to meet all of the county standards, including correcting easement and drainage issues, getting proper striping on the roads and ensuring that all handicap ramps are up to standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act, county officials said.
Stanford Carr Development Co. representatives did not respond to requests for comment.
Under the old law, the county could not accept the street until it was up to standards, but the revised County Code approved Thursday adds one vital caveat. It allows the county to accept the street, even if it does not satisfy county provisions, as long as it is "deemed in the public interest by the council."
"By changing the law, it will give us an opening so that the council can even begin to consider something like this (adopting Eha Street)," Public Works Director David Goode told The Maui News.
The bill, which still needs the mayor's signature, would allow the council to evaluate projects like Eha Street and to determine if they are in "the public interest" for the county to accept - even if they are not up to standards.
If the county were to take over Eha Street, Goode said, there are a number of initiatives that would likely be taken to address speeding.
"By becoming a county road, (Eha Street) would get the proper striping and signage, and police have more authority over an area when it's a public road instead of a private road," Goode said. "If someone's going to speed, they're going to speed, but there are some tricks that can help reduce speeds."
Those "tricks" will not include speed bumps or speed tables because Eha Street is a collector road and not a residential road, Goode said.
If the county accepts the road, the number of traffic accidents along the street will decrease, said Iao Parkside resident Jackie Harp, who expressed "gratification" after lobbying for more county regulation along Eha Street for three years.
"There is a major safety issue here. We've had one fatality, one hit-and-run and one boy with a broken leg all in the crosswalk. There's something every month. I'm afraid to use the crosswalk now," Harp said.
In the last three years, 20 motor vehicle crashes have been reported on the stretch of roadway, according to the Maui Police Department. Last year, an 87-year-old man was killed after being hit by a commercial truck tractor while walking in a crosswalk at the intersection of Eha and Waena streets.
Still, Eha Street is not considered a hazardous street, and studies have not suggested that its design encourages speeding, Lt. William Juan, police spokesman, said in an email.
"The design of the roadway is not a factor for the causes of these crashes, rather it stems from driver error or irresponsibility," Juan said.
He added that the police "have done several enforcement efforts over the years and continue to do so periodically" along the roadway.
Some community members at Thursday's meeting testified in opposition to the bill, saying that the measure would give the Department of Public Works director unregulated authority.
Council Member Riki Hokama acknowledged residents' concerns but said that there are other standards already adopted by the council that the department would have to abide by.
"I would rather us move forward," Hokama said. "If we are in need of adjustments, that is why we have the process of revision and amendment."
"I am comfortable that there are many good things in this bill that will change things for the better," Council Member Mike White said. "I will look forward to working with these (concerned) individuals to make adjustments. For the most part, it's a very good bill and incorporates a number of changes that are long overdue."
Other measures approved by the council Thursday include:
* A bill to rename Waihee Ball Park to the "Richard Pablo Caldito" Park.
* A bill to establish a crosswalk on Baldwin Avenue fronting Paia Elementary School.
* Eileen Chao can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.