Q: Why do some of the safety stickers I see on cars have a 2016 expiration year, while others say 2015? And is there a new process for safety checks? I have to take my car in soon and wondered if there are any new requirements. Thanks very much, I appreciate the information in your column.
A: New cars are inspected before they are sold, and come with a safety sticker that is valid for two years. After a new car's initial two-year period, it will need to be inspected every 12 months, as required by Hawaii's safety inspection law. Included in this annual inspection requirement are all motor vehicles, including motorcycles, trailers, semitrailers and pole trailers having a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less. According to our Motor Vehicle & Licensing Division administrator, the state Department of Transportation launched the new Electronic Periodic Motor Vehicle Inspection program in November 2013. Under the new electronic system, inspection stations must provide automated recording and proof of vehicles' current inspection results; this allows the statewide motor vehicle registration database to be electronically updated. The new system does not present any new requirements for owners getting their vehicle safety inspected, however it is recommended that you check with the inspection station you're using in case it has a different procedure for its customers since the implementation of the EPMVI program. The maximum amount that can be charged for a vehicle safety inspection for automobiles and trucks is set by DOT administrative rules at $19.19 plus tax; vehicles with window tinting may be charged an additional $5. Motorcycles and trailers may be charged a maximum of $13.24 plus tax. For each completed safety inspection, $1.70 is remitted to DOT for administration and enforcement of the program, and $1.69 is remitted to the vendor for providing the equipment and technical support.
Q: Why is there no provision for the maintenance of the rainwater retention ponds that the county approves when builders submit plans for housing and commercial projects? The rainwater retention pond across from us has been through two floods and the mud has diminished the depth of the basin. When we asked the housing management company that takes care of the community, they stated that there is no law that mandates them to maintain it. Thank you for looking into this important issue.
A: The short answer to this rather complex question is this: It depends on how long ago the project was approved, and the overall size of the project. Projects approved after 2012 that triggered the new "Stormwater Quality" requirements are required to maintain basins to the county standards that property owners agree to. Larger projects with grading over 1 acre fall under federal requirements for long-term maintenance. However, the county does not have jurisdiction to enforce maintenance with these properties unless unusual circumstances occur, such as flooding onto a county roadway caused by a lack of maintenance of a flood basin. If you observe a retention pond that appears to have deteriorated, you can check whether any conditions were placed on the development by contacting the Planning Department or the Department of Public Works. You can also contact the management company or your property's deed to find out if your owners' association is required to maintain the basin. Keep in mind that perpetual requirements such as these are usually passed along from the developer to the owners' association because once the project is completed, the developer no longer owns any interest in the property.
Q: Are there any plans for more frequent buses or other changes for commuters who ride the Upcountry bus?
A: Not at this time. Our County of Maui Department of Transportation has received requests for additional commuter services for riders in the Upcountry area, however transfer site and timing issues must resolved before any changes can be made to the existing fixed-route schedule.
* Want to Ask the Mayor? Submit your Maui County related questions to Mayor Alan Arakawa by email at email@example.com, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.