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Ask The Mayor

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

Q: Can you please explain the new laws enacted concerning firework usage and who can be held responsible and the fines involved in the event fireworks are used illegally?

A: Mahalo for your question, especially as we near New Year’s Eve parties and celebrations. I would be happy to help explain the new state laws that were enacted earlier this year to target illegal aerial fireworks use.

The new law establishes criminal liability for a homeowner, renter or person responsible for real property who intentionally, knowingly or recklessly allows an individual to possess, set off, ignite or cause to explode any aerial device while on the real property. It also sets criminal penalties, which can constitute a Class C felony, a misdemeanor or a fine of at least $500 and no more than $2,000.

The new law also adds clarity for determining probable cause to make an arrest. The facts and circumstances for the arrest may include but are not be limited to: statements from individuals who witnessed the offense, even if they’re not law enforcement officers; and photographs, video recordings or other recordings that show the commission of the offense that can be authenticated by one or more witnesses — provided that a recording made using an unmanned aerial vehicle shall be exempt from the requirement for authentication by one or more witnesses.

This state law gives our Maui Police Department new tools to combat this community concern and bring peace to our residents, children and family pets. I fully support their efforts to crack down on illegal aerial fireworks and applaud their recent seizure of a shipping case holding hundreds of pounds of aerial fireworks and mortar shells, as well as over 40,000 firecrackers.

It is illegal to import, transfer, sell or use aerial fireworks without a permit. Using aerial fireworks without a permit or license can be prosecuted as a Class C felony. Licensed applicants must have a pyrotechnics license from the State of Hawaii, among other requirements.

It’s clear that some people are still trying to smuggle in illegal fireworks and my hope is that this new measure will help our police and prosecutors to hold them accountable. There are plenty of legal ways to enjoy fireworks, including watching the aerial display at the Grand Wailea, which starts right before midnight.

As for those celebrating in their driveways, fireworks can only be legally set off from 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve to 1 a.m. New Year’s Day. Please remember to not give fireworks to young children and celebrate away from any structures, dry grass or brush. Mahalo and Merry Christmas!

Q: We live in Haiku and frequent Giggle Hill Park. I know it was closed for a long time for being unsafe. Being that it’s a federal park, does it get any funds for maintenance and repair of the playground area? I know it was volunteer-based in the past, but it seems like it should be maintained regularly by professionals.

A: Mahalo for your question and I’m happy to hear you’re enjoying our parks! The 4th Marine Division Park, or Giggle Hill Park, is actually owned and maintained by our Department of Parks and Recreation via a donation from Alexander & Baldwin — except for the Tom Morrow Equestrian Arena, which is leased to a nonprofit organization.

The playground at the park was originally built by the community, thanks to a large volunteer effort. In 2013, the department had to unfortunately close the playground due to safety concerns, but the Haiku Community Association stepped up to complete the repairs. The playground reopened in 2016 and the Haiku Community Association has been maintaining the playground with the County of Maui’s support.

We are always grateful for these public-private partnerships, which assist the department with resources it doesn’t always have available. We want to extend a special mahalo to the Haiku Community Association for all they do to keep the Kalakapua Playground at Giggle Hill safe and enjoyable for the community!

For more information on the Haiku Community Association and the Kalakapua Playground, please visit haikumaui.org.

* 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.

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