Ask The Mayor

Mayor Michael Victorino answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.

Q: The trees along Hookele Street from Target to Zippy’s are overgrown. They are blocking the traffic lights, which are a hazard for both drivers and pedestrians as they cross the street. How can we arrange to have these trees trimmed?

A: Mahalo for your question and concerns. My staff looked into this issue and spoke with our Highways Division within the Department of Public Works. We were told these trees are on our annual street tree pruning list and our arborist has updated the list to include all of the 70-plus shower trees from Hana Highway to Puunene Avenue. The contract for pruning has just been finalized and the work will begin this month. To report issues involving street trees, please call the Department of Public Works Highways Division at 270-7230.

Q: I understand there was a huge push for no straws on Maui to save the turtles, which is great! All the restaurants have followed suit, but Starbucks and all the fast-food restaurants still give out straws. Why aren’t they held to the same standard?

A: I’m assuming you’re referring to plastic straws. As much as I support environmental protection and sustainability, private companies have a choice on whether they want to use plastic straws. There has been a push to eliminate all single-use plastic packaging in Hawaii and the state Legislature is looking at establishing a plastic source reduction working group within the Department of Health. Senate Bill 522, in its current form, aims to develop strategies to encourage reuse in the food service industry, such as reusable container incentive programs for customers, and provide recommendations for composting plastics in Hawaii to encourage reuse of waste and create value-added products to be used in regenerating Hawaii’s agricultural potential.

The working group would then consult with each county that has already enacted ordinances related to single-use plastics, such as plastic bags and polystyrene foam containers and develop recommendations for the implementation of a uniform statewide policy for these items that can replace existing county ordinances and provide businesses with laws that are consistent throughout the state. The bill also calls for establishing a solid waste prevention coordinator, who would be funded through the deposit beverage container deposit special fund.

For assistance in submitting testimony on SB 522, please call (808) 587-0478 or visit www.capitol.hawaii.gov/help.aspx.

Q: I would like to know if a 10-foot-by-12-foot room can be classified as a bedroom, even though it doesn’t have a built-in closet. It does have windows that provide egress. Thank you.

A: My staff checked with the Development Services Administration and were told that current building codes do not have a closet requirement for a bedroom or sleeping room. Staff believe that the closet requirement is a real estate (appraisal) requirement. The public may discuss proposed conversions with the Building Plans Review Section staff of the Department of Public Works, DSA. Their phone number is 270-7236.

* Want to Ask the Mayor? Submit your Maui County related questions to Mayor Michael Victorino by email at askthemayor@mauicounty.gov, 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 mayors.office@mauicounty.gov.