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Ask The Mayor

Q: With the EA Sports Maui Invitational basketball tournament coming up today to Wednesday, are there any ongoing traffic projects that might cause additional delays on the road? Thanks, I’m really looking forward to this event and so are my family members traveling from the Mainland.

A: Our Public Works director said the county’s only ongoing project out that way is the Lahaina watershed project, but it is not expected to impact the intersection of Honoapiilani Highway and Hokiokio Place (near Puamana) during the tournament. The state Department of Transportation Highways Division said that there are no state projects running in the area, because they took into consideration the timing of the tournament and were trying to avoid additional traffic disruptions. The Maui Invitational is the premier preseason basketball tournament that brings many visitors to Maui to cheer on their favorite teams. Additionally, tournament organizers offer numerous opportunities for our island youth to hone their basketball skills at the many clinics and camps taught by some of the top players and coaches in the sport.

Q: Now that the elections are finally over, I was wondering: How long do candidates have to remove their campaign signs from public view? Additionally, who do I contact if I see campaign signs remaining on display after the deadline to remove them? Thanks.

A: There are no time restrictions on campaign signs, although there used to be. According to state law, campaign signs are exempt from many of the regulations pertaining to signage, billboards and commercial advertising. Maui County Code Section 16.12A.030 limits signs to 18 square feet in display surface; it previously included time restrictions on how long signs could be posted. However, Act 194, signed into law in June 2003, amended HRS Sec. 445-112(11) to remove any duration limits on the posting of political signs; this act superseded the Maui County Code. While there is currently no law requiring signs to be removed now that the elections are over, hopefully conscientious candidates and their supporters will remove any signs they put up during campaign season.

Q: Now that we know the seed companies’ lawsuit will be heard in federal court early next year, when can you start enforcing the new GMO law?

A: Until the ordinance becomes law, it cannot be enforced. As it stands right now, a federal court injunction prevents the county clerk from publishing and certifying the voter initiative ordinance; this order is set to expire on March 31. The federal magistrate assigned to this case is expected to determine, among other things, whether the ordinance as written is legally valid under state and federal law.

Ask The Mayor

Q: Are there penalties for bed-and-breakfast homes that are not in compliance? I live in an area that has a lot of B&Bs, and I know for certain not all of them are legal.

A: Yes. If a B&B is operating without a permit or if a B&B has a permit and is not operating in compliance with its conditions then it would be considered a zoning violation. Zoning violations can result in a maximum $1,000 initial fine, plus a maximum of $1,000 per day for every day that the violation continues. The enforcement of B&Bs, short-term rental homes and any other zoning violation is handled by the Planning Department’s Zoning Administration and Enforcement Division. This division responds to complaints filed by the public through the Request for Service system. To file a complaint about a specific property, visit “http://www.mauicounty.gov/RFS”>www.mauicounty.gov/RFS; your name and contact information will be requested for the complaint to be reviewed by county staff. The law allows advertising to be proof of operation, and since photos don’t necessarily prove evidence of short-term rental use, the best way to document a suspect property is to provide links to websites or other ads. To view more information about permitted bed-and-breakfast properties, including the B&B ordinance, an online application and FAQs, visit www.mauicounty.gov/bedandbreakfast.

Q: Hololani Street in Pukalani was recently worked on; at least half of it is completed. The other half became badly damaged by the heavy equipment that worked on the road, and it appears to be caving in over the sewer lines, with manhole covers protruding dangerously close to vehicles passing over them. Is this road to be completed anytime soon, at least before the county starts receiving damage claims to vehicles? Mahalo.

A: Yes, the remaining areas of Hololani Street that need to be resurfaced will be reconstructed. Our Public Works Engineering Division is currently redesigning the road and is waiting for administrative submittals from the contractor. When redesign is complete and required submittals are approved, construction will move forward, likely in summer 2015 after going out to bid.

Q: What kinds of flowers/fruits can I take with me when I visit my relatives on the Mainland? I heard that certain kinds of fruits and lei are prohibited from leaving the state. How do I find out in advance so I can avoid having items confiscated at the ag inspection station at the airport?

A: Because of the pesky fruit fly, our papayas, bananas and citrus fruits cannot be taken out of the state by private individuals. Maile, orchid and tuberose lei are fine as long as they pass inspection, but any lei containing citrus leaves, including kukui nut or other lei with pieces of mock orange leaves in between, are not allowed. Other lei prohibited for Mainland travel include Hala (Pandanus), Maunaloa, Kauna’oa (Dodder), Sea Grape, Blue Jade Plant and Kikania (round, bright red-colored seeds). Other prohibited items not allowed for export to the U.S. Mainland include sugar cane; raw sweet potato; untreated, fresh fleshy or pulpy fruits and vegetables; berries, including fresh coffee beans; cactus; cotton; and live insects and snails. Cut flowers, foliage or allowed fruits must be “certified pest-free” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture regardless of how they are transported to the Mainland (i.e., hand-carried, baggage, cargo shippers, USPS or other expedited shippers). All rooted and propagated items such as potted plants must pass inspection by the State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture. Call 873-3555 to reach the state DOA, and 877-5261 to reach USDA’s Maui office. For more information online, including plants allowed for travel to foreign countries, pet quarantine and animal diseases, visit hdoa.hawaii.gov. A copy of the DOA’s handy ag inspection brochure for U.S. Mainland travel has been posted on my blog at www.mauicounty.gov/mayor; click on “Mayor’s Update” on the left.

Ask The Mayor

Q: My question is regarding window stickers on the rear windows of vehicles. Vehicle inspection stations are now ordering the public to remove their rear window stickers in order to pass inspection. I tried researching the Hawaii state law online regarding this matter, but the only thing I could find were the restrictions and size of stickers on front windshields, not the rear. I talked to a Maui police officer, and he said that stickers are allowed on the rear windows of pickup trucks but not on cars. I own a Toyota Tacoma truck and have three small stickers on the rear windshield. They are about 3 to 4 inches in diameter, each of them behind rear seat headrests so they do not block my rear view at all. Is this legal? If not, can you please tell me the reason for this law if they do not block my rear view. Thank you very much!

A: Thank you for your inquiry. Stickers on the rear window are prohibited by County Code, which is upheld by state regulation. SUVs and light trucks such as your Toyota Tacoma are not exempt. Maui County Code 10.20.420 states that stickers, posters or opaque signs on the front windshield must not exceed 24 square inches in total area, but stickers, posters or opaque signs of any description are not allowed on the rear window or windows. Signs or stickers on the front windshield must be placed only in the lower right-hand corner, as seen from inside the vehicle. The state Department of Transportation’s manual for inspectors of passenger cars and light trucks specifies that the vehicle should fail inspection if the glazing has a decal or sticker that does not comply with county ordinance. Ordinances differ from county to county, and no historical basis was available for Maui County’s law.

Q: I am aware of the county’s abandoned vehicle ordinance: vehicles parked over 24 hours can be abandoned, causing a nuisance. However, what about when you have large boats, trailers, school buses or commercial vehicles (i.e., a lunch wagon) parked on the streets for days, weeks or months? This is occurring in our neighborhood. Are you allowed to park a boat on the street/shoulder and leave it there?

A: No, those vehicles are considered abandoned because they have been left unattended on a public highway for more than 24 hours (Maui County Code 10.48.200). Additionally, Maui County Code 10.48.210 specifies that police and property owners are authorized to move any vehicle left unattended on a street, and is parked illegally, as to constitute a hazard or obstruction to the normal movement of traffic.

Q: Is there any consideration of a traffic light going up at Maui Lani Parkway and South Kamehameha Avenue near Pomaikai Elementary School? I suspect that 90 percent of the drivers who use the four-way stop there cannot properly recite the rules of a four-way stop, and traffic on Maui Lani Parkway regularly gets backed up 30 cars deep.

A: Yes, Maui Lani has initiated design of a traffic signal system for this intersection in accordance with the traffic master plan agreement the county has with them. The intersection is still privately owned, but Maui Lani has dedicated the portion of Maui Lani Parkway from the intersection to Kuikahi Drive to the county. While the process is lengthy, Maui Lani is moving ahead with dedicating the remaining portion of Maui Lani Parkway and Kamehameha Avenue to the county, so the intersection will be under full county control.

Ask The Mayor

Q: I live on Ehu Road and there’s a neighboring property that has a lot of eucalyptus trees. During Hurricane Iselle one of the trees fell down and blocked our street for days; another one crashed down on my fence. Is there anything the county can do to make my neighbors take care of their trees? A lot of the trees on their property are next to the road, and the last thing any of the residents here want is another roadblock. Please advise.

A: The county cannot get involved in what is essentially a civil dispute, unless the trees that fell were on a county property or right-of-way. The best approach would be for you and your neighbor to try to resolve the matter on your own; if that is not possible, the law states that you may file a complaint for damages in court. A Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals opinion from 1981, which has become case law for countless other cases across the country, indicates that: “When overhanging branches or protruding roots actually cause, or there is imminent danger of them causing, sensible harm to property other than plant life . . . the damaged or imminently endangered neighbor may require the owner of the tree to pay for the damages and to cut back the endangering branches or roots and, if such is not done within a reasonable time, the damaged or imminently endangered neighbor may cause the cutback to be done at the owner’s expense.” The opinion also states that: “A landowner may always, at his own expense, cut away only to his property line . . . any part of the adjoining owner’s trees or other plant life.” I’ve posted the text from the court decision regarding fallen trees on my blog; to read it, visit “http://www.mauicounty.gov/mayor”>www.mauicounty.gov/mayor and click on “Mayor’s Update.”

Q: Is it true that the lessees of Hawaiian Homes properties are not required to obtain a building permit for any additions they do on their property? If this is true, how are they exempt? I thought all homeowners are required to obtain a building permit per County of Maui requirements, such as how everyone has to pay tax for all vehicles that are registered. Thanks.

A: Structures built on Hawaiian homelands are exempt under Maui County Code Chapter 16.26B.101.2, but lessees must still meet all building and zoning codes and ordinances due to state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands regulations. DHHL requires lessees to obtain written approval from DHHL, as well as county building permits for new homes and renovations. The DHHL Residential Lessee Handbook states that the lessee must “submit a plan as to the design, materials and probable value and use of the structure to be built on the leasehold. Building structures or improvements must meet building and zoning codes and other ordinances and regulations of the respective counties. The construction of building structures or improvements need to receive DHHL approval prior to installation.” The handbook also notes that DHHL approval assures the lessee that, in the event the lease is surrendered or canceled, “the value of all improvements on the property will be appraised and paid to the lessee upon surrender or cancellation.”

Q: Are nursing homes and assisted living facilities licensed in Hawaii? Are they regularly inspected by local health authorities? Are there regulations governing unlicensed nursing and assisted living facilities? Mahalo.

A: Yes, yes and yes. According to Hawaii Revised Statute 457B-3, no person shall operate a nursing home in the state without having a nursing home administrator’s license from the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Any person running an unlicensed nursing or assisted living facility is subject to penalties, including a fine of up to $500 for a first-time offense. For each subsequent offense, a person can be fined up to $1,000, imprisoned for up to a year, or both (457B-12). Licensing and required inspections are conducted by the state through the Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Assurance; inspections are conducted annually for nursing homes and biannually for assisted living facilities. Complaints involving a licensed or unlicensed health care facility may be made via phone by calling (808) 984-2400 or filed online at cca.hawaii.gov/rico (Under “RICO Spotlight,” click “Complaint, Application and Report Forms” and select the “Health Care Complaint Form.”). Complaints should also be submitted to OHCA by calling (808) 692-740 since OHCA provides the inspectors. To view updated lists of licensed adult residential care homes, assisted living facilities, foster family homes and adult day care centers statewide, visit www.health.hawaii.gov/OHCA/state-licensing-section.

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