Ask The Mayor

Q: I was wondering if the well-traveled roads of Haiku are scheduled for repaving anytime soon. Kaupakalua and Kokomo roads are to a point where it is unsafe to drive. The potholes, ruts, bumps and cracks are highly dangerous and are destroying cars of taxpaying residents. Kokomo has not had any major restoration for over 10 years while Hana Highway seems to have an annual repaving whether it needs it or not. Please let the citizens know when we can drive in peace again. Mahalo.

A: I do have an update since we last ran a Q&A about these rural collector roads: The first paving project is expected to commence in less than two months. Work on Kokomo Road, one of the bumpiest, is anticipated to begin in February, with completion by September; this phase runs from the intersection of Kokomo with Makawao Avenue and Kaupakalua Road to Mile Marker 3. The next phase, Kokomo Road and Makawao Avenue, is expected to start in November 2016 and run from Haiku Road to Mile Marker 3 on Kokomo Road, and from Kokomo Road to Piiholo Road on Makawao Avenue. Work on Kaupakalua

Road has a tentative start date of mid-2017, and will run from Kokomo Road to West Kuiaha Road.

Q: If the County of Maui is adamant about everybody’s seat belt use, why does the county allow passengers to ride in the open beds of trucks? Seeing people riding against the tailgate is outrageously dangerous. This is the absolute worst place to sit. Worst of all, most of the passengers I witness are underage.

A: I agree, riding in open beds of pickup trucks is extremely dangerous; however, Hawaii state law allows this practice in certain situations. Hawaii Revised Statute (HRS) 291-14 states that no passenger can ride in the bed of a pickup truck unless (1) there is no seating available in the cab of the vehicle; (2) the side racks of the vehicle are securely attached and the tailboard or tailgate is securely closed; and (3) every passenger in the bed or load-carrying area of the vehicle is seated on the floor and does not attempt to “control unlashed cargo.” This law prohibits children aged 12 years and under from riding in the bed of a pickup truck, except in life-threatening emergencies or if the vehicle is being operated in a parade, caravan or authorized exhibition. Violations are subject to a fine of $72 each for passenger restrictions and $92 for violations for underage children.

Q: If the renovations of the restrooms at Honokowai Beach Park are completed, why aren’t the bathrooms open already?

A: For one simple but very important reason: the parks department is still waiting for a back-ordered part for the lift pump, which takes the wastewater from the restrooms and transports it uphill to the sewer line. As we all know, liquids do not “flow” uphill, and this location requires wastewater to be pumped up from the bathrooms to work properly. The department estimates it will take a few more weeks for the part to arrive, then the restrooms will be opened to the public.

Ask The Mayor

Q: Until several years ago, many of the Wailea hotels monopolized the space at Wailea and Polo beaches by setting up large numbers of umbrellas and lounge chairs for the exclusive use of their guests, so that there would be little beach space remaining for the general public that arrived later in the morning. That practice largely stopped; I understood that county regulations may have prohibited the hotels from setting up umbrellas or lounge chairs until a guest requested one. However, one resort on the Makena end of Wailea continues to attempt to control areas of the public beach in front of its property from time to time. Am I correct that hotels are not allowed to set up umbrellas and lounge chairs on our public beaches in advance of a guest request? If so, why is this resort’s violations of this policy tolerated?

A: Beach chairs and umbrellas are usually placed in areas that are not under the county’s jurisdiction. Even at county beach parks, anything below the high-water line is state property. However, if you notice resort amenities being placed above the high-water line at a county beach park, such as Polo Beach, you may contact the county parks department at 270-7230. The department can follow up at the specific location to verify whether it is occurring on county property and can also follow up with the state if a violation appears to be occurring on state property. You might want to take a cellphone photo if you have one handy.

Q: Is there an ordinance that dictates or prevents roadside vendors from selling at a location that is too close to residential areas? There is a homeless couple who live out of their van adjacent to Makena park and set up a roadside stand adjacent to private property on Makena Road. Who can be contacted about this if it is in fact illegal? Mahalo.

A: Makena Road is a state road, and thus the state Department of Land and Natural Resources would be tasked with enforcement. Since vending may only be conducted on property zoned for such use, the county could also enforce if it’s a zoning violation. For roadside vendors along county roads, vendor licenses from the county Department of Finance are required. The licensing process dictates where they are allowed to sell on county right-of-ways, such as along county roads and parking stalls. The permits are issued after comments are received from the departments of planning and police. The issuance of a county vendor permit is based on Maui County Code Chapter 5.12, which requires vendors to display their permit at all times but does not place any specific restrictions on the distance from a residential area to the vendor’s truck. If a vendor is located along a county roadway and does not have a county vending permit displayed, a Request for Service complaint may be filed online at www.mauicounty.gov/rfs.

Q. My neighbors don’t live on Maui, but it seems like their house is always full of short-term tenants. I see different people there every month; some of them keep to themselves and some of them are very rude. These people seem to be staying too long for your typical tourist but much shorter than the average resident. Can my neighbors rent out their home with that kind of fast turnaround? I thought they had to at least live on-site for that to happen.

A. No, residential zoning districts only allow for long-term residential use, which is 180 days or longer. Anything shorter than that, which is what it seems you are describing, would require a permit. A bed-and-breakfast permit requires that the owner or manager live on property and that rooms can be rented out to different parties. A short-term rental permit does not require an on-site presence like B&Bs, but the home can only be rented to one party at a time. Both permits allow up to six bedrooms to be rented. If it’s not being used as a B&B or a short-term rental then a conditional use permit would be required for occupancy less than 180 days. You can file a Request for Services online so that we may look into your neighbor’s situation. Go to www.mauicounty.gov/rfs to file the complaint. Keep in mind that if no fees are being charged and the unit is not being advertised, friends are allowed to stay in the home as a residential use.

Ask The Mayor

Q: The house across the street from where I live has 10 cars and about 15 to 20 people living there. It’s a hassle to park on the road, and there is always someone blocking our driveway. Getting mail is a problem when they park too close to our mailbox, and sometimes trash pickup is an issue too. What can be done?

A: You can call Maui Police Department’s nonemergency number (244-6400) to report illegal parking, but please note that if parked on the street, your vehicle would also be subject to citation within the same time frame. According to the Maui County Code, parking within 4 feet of either side of a public or private driveway is prohibited. It is also illegal to park in front of an official U.S. Postal Service mailbox from 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, unless there is a sidewalk that separates the mailbox and the road. Regarding the enforcement of overnight parking, the county’s all-night parking ordinance states that no person shall park a vehicle on any roadway “for a period of time longer than 60 minutes between the hours of 2 and 6 a.m. of any day.” Exceptions are granted for authorized emergency vehicles. Thus, police can cite any vehicle on any roadway if parked in excess of 60 minutes between the hours specified.

Q: I’m a journalist working on a story about Maui for a print publication and would like to check whether I need a special permit to take photographs from beach areas. The photos would be used for journalistic purposes only, no marketing images or paparazzi photos of celebrities.

A: Our Maui County film commissioner informed me that “still” photographs for editorial purposes are fine without a permit when taken from public beaches and county or state property. You’ll need permission to photograph on private property, and permits are required for commercial, noneditorial photography or for any commercial video or motion picture productions. For more information, visit the Maui County Film Office website at www.filmmaui.com.

Q: I’m just a concerned parent that lives on Mokapu Street in Kahului. I notice every other street around us has speed bumps except ours. Why is that so? Are we gonna wait till a kid who plays on the street gets run over? Then a big lawsuit. I’ve been living on this street for 13 years.

A: County records show that while your street has a total of four speed humps (two between Lono and Makalii streets and two between Makalii and Laau), there are no speed humps on the stretch of Mokapu between Laau and Hina. The existing speed humps were applied for in 1999; since then there have been no requests for speed humps on Mokapu Street. You can request that speed humps be installed on your section of Mokapu through the same process that residents went through when speed humps were requested for the other sections of the street. The process involves getting signatures from neighbors, ensuring there is community support for it. Visit www.mauicounty.gov/engineering to learn what happens during the application and approval of speed humps on county minor streets, which are usually not wider than 24 feet and feed into collector streets. This webpage also contains instructions on how to apply for street lights, as well as information on current and future projects including road improvements, rehabilitation and resurfacing work.

Ask The Mayor

Q: Why is it illegal to have wide tires on lifted trucks or low riders?

A: Maui County Code chapter 10.20.450 (“Mudguards”) states that tires must not protrude farther than any fender or other attachment, as that creates a potential safety hazard. Specifically, the code states that no person shall operate on any highway any motor vehicle, trailer or semitrailer unless equipped with “fenders, covers or devices, including flaps or splash aprons or unless the body of the vehicle or attachments afford adequate protection to effectively minimize the spray or splash of water or mud to the rear of the vehicle.” According to the state Department of Transportation Periodic Motor Vehicle Inspection Manual for Inspectors of Passenger Cars and Light Trucks, vehicles will not pass safety inspection if the vehicle’s fenders are missing, loosely attached, damaged or do not cover the width of the tire tread. Vehicle owners should check with their safety inspection station before purchasing and installing wider tires that exceed the vehicle manufacturer’s tire size recommendations to ensure they are able to pass inspection.

Q: I was reading that story about how the Coast Guard wasted taxpayer dollars searching for someone out at sea because they found a kayak adrift off Olowalu. These folks have more important things to do than conduct searches just because someone’s kayak or surfboard blew out into the ocean while they were taking a nap on the beach. Can these people be fined for being careless?

A: Instead of imposing a fine, there is a simpler solution: Make sure you label your stand-up paddle board, kayak or other ocean craft with your up-to-date contact information. That way if it does get blown out to sea and is reported to the U.S. Coast Guard, they can attempt to contact the owner to find out if they are OK. This will help to prevent any unnecessary search-and-rescue operations and save Coast Guard resources for those who really do need their assistance. The Coast Guard recommends using a waterproof pen to write your contact information. Waterproof “Paddle Smart” labels that stick to your board or kayak are available free of charge at the Coast Guard headquarters in Maalaea, or at its Kahului office located at 95 Lono Ave. For more information on the Paddle Smart program, visit www.uscg.mil/d13/paddlesmart/.

Q: How do I report tires dumped on the side of the highway? They’re such an eyesore. For that matter, sometimes I notice cars on the roadside that look abandoned. Is there a number to call so they can be tagged and possibly hauled away?

A: To report illegal dumping, including tires, you can call Malama Maui Nui (formerly known as Community Workday) at 877-2524. Malama Maui Nui is funded by a county grant to clean up illegal dump sites. For abandoned vehicles, call the nonemergency line at Maui Police Department, 244-6400, and press “0” to file an initial report about an abandoned vehicle. Thank you for helping keep our roadways safe and clear of trash, dumped items and automotive debris.

Ask The Mayor

Q: Why is the Haliimaile tennis court the “stepchild”? About a year ago, I wrote a letter regarding the bad condition of the tennis court in Haliimaile. I was very happy to see that there was some progress in maintaining the grass around the court. Also, the doors and the net were repaired, and I did send a thank-you letter. Unfortunately, the part that desperately needs repair or replacement is the court surface. It’s almost dangerous to play there. All other county courts look nice, why not this one? Mahalo.

A: Actually, the county has several outdoor courts in similar condition to the Haliimaile tennis court. The current location of the Haliimaile court is not an ideal site, because trees adjacent to the court have grown over the years and are very large. They leave a lot of rubbish on the playing surface, and the trees’ roots lift and crack the asphalt (and will continue to do so), creating a safety hazard. Even under ideal conditions, outdoor tennis and basketball courts have a certain number of years of useful service. In order to get the most years of service, these courts require regular and periodic maintenance, including acrylic resurfacing every five to seven years. As funding has not historically been provided to maintain all of our courts, thus extending their useful lifespan, some have fallen into disrepair and will require a complete rebuilding. This is the case for the Haliimaile tennis court. Prior to the county spending hundreds of thousands of dollars per court to replace existing facilities, the parks department soon will be conducting a countywide needs assessment to, in part, help determine the most suitable locations for tennis and basketball courts. This could be at the same site as existing locations, or it could possibly be building multiple courts in areas centralized to community population bases. Thank you for inquiring about the Haliimaile tennis court; your participation in the upcoming needs assessment would be greatly valued and appreciated.

Q: Can you please address whether or not it is legal for motorcycle riders to physically block intersections to allow large groups of riders to pass through? On numerous occasions over the years, I have witnessed one or two motorcycle riders from a large group physically blocking an intersection to allow their fellow riders to pass through without waiting. This has meant that those in cars must stop and wait for long periods of time in order to pass through the intersection. I have seen this happen most often on the weekends, when large groups are out and about to ride together. I have done some research and can find no laws on the books to allow this act, which is disrespectful and wrong to those in cars who are driving legally and waiting patiently.

A: Maui County Code, Chapter 10.48.030, states that no person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle in numerous situations, one of which is within an intersection. Thus, the use of self-appointed “road guards” at intersections or cross streets is not permissible to allow a group of motorcycles or vehicles to pass. No citizens shall obstruct or block traffic to alter the normal flow for their own personal use. The Maui Police Department does not allow this action for any motorcycle group, car group or individuals. A photo of this type of violation would be helpful in identifying the individual and the motorcycle club he/she may be associated with. To read the language of the law, visit www.mauicounty.gov/laws and click on “Maui County Code,” then scroll down to Title 10 – Vehicles And Traffic. Scroll down to Chapter 10.48.030 – “Prohibited in Certain Places.”

Q: I drive by a landscaping sprinkler “car wash” every morning along a median strip in Wailuku and keep hoping that someone will eventually do something to control the obvious. I drove by the exact same conditions one morning in mid-November. Unfortunately, this is one of many examples of pure wasting of water as a result of landscaping requirements for development.

A: This portion of Maui Lani Parkway is privately owned. However, our Public Works Department has notified Maui Lani Partners, who will in turn request that the responsible party make the adjustment to the irrigation system. It appears to be a bad irrigation head, but as you noted, the result is a lot of “lost” water.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)