Q: Who enforces the use of handicap placards? I was at Costco recently, and even before the store opened all the handicap stalls were taken by people who probably shouldn't be using the handicap placards.
A: The state Department of Health Disability and Communication Access Board administers the statewide program for the issuance of parking placards to disabled people, in accordance with Hawaii Revised Statutes, Chapter 291, Part III. The county Division of Motor Vehicles and Licensing is tasked with issuing the handicap parking placards, and Maui Police Department handles enforcement. It is possible that the Costco members you observed were issued parking permits due to a less-visible cardiac, breathing or other condition that makes it difficult to walk. According to the state's website, a physician must certify that the person applying for a placard meets medical criteria regarding physical mobility impairments. To learn more about the specific requirements and types of parking permits issued, visit health.hawaii.gov/dcab/parking.
Q: I live along the Lahaina Sugar Cane Train route and have noticed that they have replaced the train whistle with a very irritating, loud horn. It is blasted and sounds similar to the horn on a large tractor-trailer. I am wondering if this is permanent, because if it is, I plead with the train management to look into returning the horn to something less irritating. This train runs from morning until late afternoon. Some sort of consideration should be made for locals living along the train's route.
A: According to the Sugar Cane Train general manager, the horn you are hearing is the horn on the diesel engine that is being used during the rare occurrence that both steam engines are under repair. The company estimates the repairs will take another six to eight weeks to complete and will include the on-site fabrication of a specialized steam piston. The train runs between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and is required by federal law to sound its horn at each crossing to warn drivers and others on the road. While the lower and higher levels of the diesel horn are both within the allowed decibel range, the train engineer often has to use the louder horn because drivers attempt to "race" the train across the tracks. This happens most often at Keawe and Puukolii streets, where several collisions have occurred. Once the steam engines are back on track, their familiar whistle will also return. However, motorists should always exercise caution and respect for the train when approaching a crossing - no matter which kind of engine is being used.
Q: I am cleaning up my yard and have some pesticides I would like to stop using. These items are in their original containers and in good shape. How can I responsibly dispose of them?
A: If you are sure of the safety and the contents of the pesticides, the county's Recycling Section recommends you give your gardening supplies to someone who could make use of them, such as neighbors, growers or landscape companies listed in the Yellow Pages. Some high schools have ag programs. Malama Maui Nui (formerly Community Work Day; phone: 877-2524) grows plants to give away at the fair, and Maui Nui Botanical Gardens (phone: 249-2798) also grows plants to give away. If you cannot locate anyone who would like your garden supplies, the items should be triple-bagged and taken to the landfill or transfer station for disposal. Pesticides are classified as Household Hazardous Waste (HHW). EPA rules and regulations governing Maui's subtitle "D" landfills allow all HHW to be disposed of in the landfill. Please keep in mind that large amounts of liquids should not be put into your refuse cart because of the mess they make in the "Opala Pickers" trucks.
* Want to Ask the Mayor? Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email: AskTheMayor@mauicounty.gov, phone: 270-7855 or mail: 200 S. High Street, ninth floor, Wailuku 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the "Ask the Mayor" column.