Q: I heard that you can get free plants from the Department of Water Supply. First off, are these native plants and if so, where can I pick them up and how many can I take home?
A. Those plants were provided by Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, and I believe the last place I saw them being handed out was during Earth Day. However, our Department of Water Supply still does give out free low-flow fixtures daily. This includes shower heads, faucet aerators for the kitchen and bathroom and leak detection dye tablets. Please stop by the water department offices on the fifth floor of the county building to take advantage of these water-saving devices. Also, native plants that require little water are a good investment for your backyard. While we do not give away free plants, we still have a wealth of information about xeriscaping in our County of Maui Landscape and Gardening Handbook. For more information, go to our county website at www.mauicounty.gov and check out the Water Conservation Section of the water department Web page.
Q. These drownings we keep having are ridiculous. Kauai has a video playing in their airport about ocean safety, and we need to do the same at least. Why can't we take some of those millions that we give to the Maui Visitors Bureau and do some ocean safety education? Some of our tourists have never been in the ocean before in their life, and they're getting into serious trouble out there. We've got to do something, please. Thank you.
A: I did some checking and that Kauai ocean safety video was a community project done by the Rotary Club of Kapaa. It is a great idea, and I believe our Maui Visitors Bureau is speaking with our local Rotary clubs, as well as the state Department of Transportation, to see if something similar can be set up at the Kahului Airport. Education is key, especially for visitors who may not be strong swimmers. And yes, you are correct in saying that some of them have never even been in the ocean before. Also, looking at the victims, police, fire, lifeguards and even our friends in the U.S. Coast Guard all say the same thing, that many people who drown have pre-existing medical conditions and perhaps should not have been in the water in the first place. MVB has an annual safety and security meeting for hotel, condos and time shares where some of this information is covered, but I believe we need more outreach. A safety video in the baggage claim area where we have a captive audience while visitors wait for their luggage sounds like a good place to start.
Q: Homeless people in the gravel parking lot next to the Paia Post Office are making the area unsafe. Some stay there overnight and get angry if you park too close to their cars, which they live in. I am sympathetic to the homeless situation but can't we do something about this?
A: Our police department has been made aware of the situation and signs have been put up in that parking lot to say that vehicles will be towed away after hours. There should not be a problem with people living in that lot anymore. Also, please contact police directly by dialing 911 if you are accosted or threatened.
* 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.