Ask The Mayor

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

Q: I work in a very large resort on the bell staff. I have been seeing many Styrofoam coolers brought in by guests of the hotel. When I questioned the guest, they told me they bought them here on Maui at a local store. I thought we banned all Styrofoam containers in Maui? Are these Styrofoam coolers legal? If the coolers are not banned, they need to be as they are super flimsy and break very easily.

A: This is a very timely question as our state and counties continue to look at decreasing single-use plastics, which are harmful to our ocean and environment.

I’ve long been an advocate of restricting plastic usage, dating back to my time as a County Council member in 2009 when I introduced a bill to regulate the use and sale of polystyrene food wares. I again reintroduced the measure in 2014, where it was referred to committee and eventually passed by the council in 2017.

While the ban went into effect at the end of last year, polystyrene foam coolers were among the exemptions. Other exceptions to the ban were polystyrene ice chests, foam blocks and packing peanuts used as protective packaging during shipping. Butchered meats, poultry, fish and eggs also may be put in polystyrene containers.

Those not in compliance could face civil penalties of up to $1,000 a day.

Polystyrene coolers still present a danger to our environment and ocean wildlife, but I understand that the Polystyrene Foam Food Service Container Ordinance specifically targeted reduction efforts in the food service industry. There are currently no mandates in place that legally restrict the sale of this type of cooler.

There is still much work to be done in reducing polystyrene products in our county and I strongly encourage all residents and visitors to always care for our environment.

Q: What is the law for maintaining unobstructed area by fire extinguishers outside buildings? I live in a condominium complex in Kaanapali and our fire extinguishers and fire hydrants are not properly being cleared.

A: Thank you for your important safety question, which can serve as a reminder for all residents and tourists to be mindful of fire protection and safety measures. My staff reached out to the Fire Prevention Bureau, which highlighted two ordinances regarding your concerns.

Fire Code 13.1.3 states that “obstructions shall not be placed or kept near fire hydrants, fire department inlet connections, or fire protection system control valves in a manner that would prevent such equipment or fire hydrants from being immediately visible and accessible.”

Fire Code 13.1.4 adds that “a minimum 36 in. (91 mm) of clear space shall be maintained to permit access to and operation of fire protection equipment, fire department inlet connections, or fire protection system control valves. The fire department shall not be deterred or hindered from gaining immediate access to fire protection equipment.”

It may be best for you to raise your concerns with your complex management in a constructive and respectful manner to maintain proper clearance of fire extinguishers and fire hydrants.

* 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.