Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.
Q: With the potential for larger crowds in Lahaina this year due to Halloween happening on a Friday night, I was wondering what kinds of safety measures are in place to keep the event safe and family-friendly?
A: The “Halloween in Lahaina” block party, which is organized by the LahainaTown Action Committee in partnership with my Office of Economic Development, is indeed planned as a safe event that is suitable for the whole family. In recent years there have been very few incidents considering that approximately 28,000 people attended the event each year. Underage drinking, consumption of alcohol and public nudity are prohibited at the event. Permits have been obtained to properly close Front Street to provide a pedestrian corridor for showing off all those creative costumes. Portable restrooms, light towers and trash bins will be in place to keep the area clean and well-lit. Bus transportation is available so folks have the option of catching the “Halloween Express” from Kihei or Wailuku. And besides the dedicated staff and volunteers who have been working for many months on preparations for the event, a team of community police officers will be on duty to help keep order if any party-goers step out of bounds.
Dear Mayor Arakawa:
Q: Has anyone investigated whether any of the tagged sharks were involved in these recent biting incidents?
A: According to the Pacific Island Ocean Observing System’s tiger shark tracking website, it would be difficult to get a definitive answer on a shark’s identity because the tracking system does not provide real-time monitoring. The website notes that the tags “intermittently track the sharks’ locations over time as the shark’s dorsal fin breaches the water’s surface.” The site clearly states that the monitoring system is not a warning system; however, the date and time provided with each tag reading can offer a general idea of the whereabouts of each of the 17 tagged tiger sharks and whether any of them were in an area when a biting incident was reported. The tagged sharks range in size from a 9.3-foot male to a 14.7-foot female. The tiger shark tagging project is funded by the State of Hawaii Dept. of Land & Natural Resources (DLNR) – Division of Aquatic Resources. Data is collected by investigators and members of the Marine Biology Shark Research Team of the UH Manoa Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. To view the website and shark tracking feature, visit http://oos.soest.hawaii.edu/pacioos/projects/sharks/.
Aloha Mayor Arakawa:
Q: (Editor’s note: This question is a timely one in that it was submitted to the mayor and answered before Sunday’s tragic drowning of a Washington State visitor at Black Rock) Why are there no lifeguards at Black Rock? With the number of incidents there, it seems worth looking into. Although the incidents at Black Rock appear to be more medically related than water-related, the victims’ chance for survival would be greatly increased with a trained first responder at that location.
A: There are no County lifeguards at Puu Kekaa (“Black Rock”) because it is a non-County beach. This popular spot is privately owned above the high water mark on the shore and managed and overseen by the State ocean-side of the high water mark. Maui County provides lifeguards at County beaches such as D.T. Fleming, Hanakaoo (Canoe Beach), Kamaole I, II and III, Kanaha, Baldwin and Hookipa. The exception is Makena Beach, where the State, under a contract, provides funding to Maui County to staff two lifeguard towers. That being said, the County is currently meeting with State and Kaanapali Resort officials to work toward establishing a contract similar to the one for Makena Beach, to allow for a State-funded lifeguard tower near Black Rock with a land easement provided by the land owner. Ocean safety continues to be an important issue as many of our visitors have limited experience in Hawaii’s ocean conditions. The County is working with community partners to create an up-to-date ocean safety video that can be shown in the baggage claim area of the Kahului Airport, and in-flight as various carriers will allow. Our goal is to equip visitors with the information and education they need to stay safe in our waters, and to support efforts to place warning signs, buoys, rescue tubes and other safety devices at unguarded beaches, as well as educational brochures in hotel rooms and at concierge desks. The Hawaiian Lifeguard Association maintains a website that can help educate guests and residents alike, with real-time conditions, listings of recommended and lifeguarded beaches, hazard ratings of the various beaches and shorelines, as well as any active alerts and beach closures on each island. Visit www.hawaiibeachsafety.com to learn more.
Want to Ask the Mayor?
Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email: AskTheMayor@mauicounty.gov, phone: 270-7855 or mail: 200 S. High Street, 9th Floor, Wailuku, Hawaii 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the Ask the Mayor column.