Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.
Dear Mayor Arakawa:
Q: Uber, which recently arrived on Maui, has had a list of problems worldwide. These problems include sexual assault by their drivers, violation of state and local regulations for car services, and complaints from their drivers who have no way of voicing concerns or complaints without getting “fired.” By having their drivers be contract employees, they skirt employment laws and worker safety laws that cab drivers and other car services must abide by. Will Maui County try to enforce its laws and regulations for car services on this notoriously troubled company?
A: Maui County Code does not regulate this type of motor carrier. Instead, the service falls under the jurisdiction of the State’s Public Utilities Commission, commonly known as the PUC. According to HRS 271-8, persons transporting passengers… for compensation or hire are required to have a “certificate of public convenience and necessity” issued by the PUC. The Commission investigates all instances of illegal operations under its jurisdiction, and is authorized to issue citations in the amount of $1,000, plus $500 for each day the violation continues, to transportation companies that fail to obtain certificates prior to providing transportation services. Hawaii Administrative Rules 6-62-8 specifies the amounts of liability insurance that motor carriers are required to have, and the PUC is authorized to issue citations of $1,000, plus $500 for each day the violation continues, to persons who fail to carry the requisite insurance coverage. Additionally, any person providing prearranged ground transportation services at a public airport must obtain an appropriate airport permit. Citations may be issued to violators by the Airports division of the State Dept. of Transportation. To contact the PUC directly for more information or to file a complaint about a motor carrier, visit www.puc.hawaii.gov. If any Uber or Lyft passenger feels a crime has been committed, they should contact Maui Police Department.
Q: I know that Maui has banned plastic bags in the stores but, I’ve noticed lately that one large, Hawaii-based supermarket chain has been using them. They are reusable, but I don’t know if they are biodegradable. Can you please look into this? Thank you.
A: Certainly. According to the Maui County Code, single-use plastic bags less than 3 mils thick are banned. Plastic bags with handles that are more than 3 mils thick are allowed; however, there is no requirement that bags be biodegradable. The bags you mentioned are indeed plastic, and our Recycling staff has been in contact with the management of the supermarket chain to determine whether they meet the criteria for “permitted reusable” bags. However, initial conversations with the company suggest that the bags were initially ordered as reusable bags for retail sale but are now being given away to customers just until the current supply runs out. Both retail stores and restaurants are included in the plastic bag ban, which was enacted in Maui County on January 11, 2011 to help combat the volume of waste created by the use of single-use plastic bags. It’s estimated that the average American uses 300-700 plastic bags per year. Worldwide, somewhere between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are used each year. For more information on the plastic bag ban, visit www.mauicounty.gov/plasticbags and click on either of the FAQ links.
Q: My trash did not get picked up today, and I’m wondering if we are eligible for a reimbursement for these missed pickups? This is a service I paid for, like my cable and electric bills, so can’t I get a refund when they don’t pick up my rubbish?
A: In nearly every instance when a refuse route is missed, our staff make the missed pickups the next day. Regardless of the reason, mechanical problems or staff shortages, the ‘opala pickers do their best to make up the collection the very next day— even on Saturdays when needed; normally on overtime, which is actually at a higher cost to the County. That being said, it’s important to note that our residential refuse service is heavily subsidized by County funds; the monthly cost of $18 is roughly 32 percent of the actual cost of our rubbish pickups and landfilling. Other utility-type bills you pay to private companies are not subsidized, and to my knowledge they do not issue refunds on a regular basis for cable or power outtages- nor can these services be made up for.
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.