MPD Responds to Dirt Bike Derelicts and Private Road Parking Problems

November 4, 2009, 8:43 AM HST · Updated November 4, 8:43 AM
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By Wendy Osher

Maui Police heard concerns about illegal dirt bike traffic and ongoing parking problems during a town hall meeting in Wailuku Tuesday night.  More than 30 people attended the evening session at the Velma McWayne Santos Community Center, which drew one of the stronger turnouts to date.  The meeting was the last in a series scheduled for the island of Maui this year, with a remaining session set for the island of Lanai on Thursday.

Capt. Jody Singsank with the Wailuku Patrol Division met with residents to discuss concerns raised over speed, parking and illegal dirt bike riding in Central Maui during a town hall meeting in Wailuku on Tuesday night. Photo Courtesy The Maui Police Department.

Capt. Jody Singsank with the Wailuku Patrol Division met with residents to discuss concerns raised over speed, parking and illegal dirt bike riding in Central Maui during a town hall meeting in Wailuku on Tuesday night. Photo Courtesy The Maui Police Department.

Violent crime in Central Maui dropped from 2,263 incidents in 2007-2008 to 1,861 in 2008-2009.  Less serious offenses also dropped from 11,385 to 8,985 over the same period.  “We dont’ know how this economy is going to effect crime in terms of social and family dynamics, but we have to be vigilant,” said Maui Police Chief Gary Yabuta.

Malaihi Road in Waiehu and Eha Street in Wailuku drew the most commentary, with residents from both areas seeking police support in the form of monitoring and enforcement.

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Upper Waiehu residents complained of unlicensed dirt bikes operating at accelerated speeds on public roads.  “They fly over speed bumps…It’s a war zone up there,” said Malaihi Road resident Moses Kahalekulu.

Chief Yabuta said he shared the concern, but is challenged by the maneuverability of the dirt bikes and their brazen attempts to go places that pursuing officers can not.  “I can’t jeopardize my officer’s safety,” said Chief Yabuta, “…but we have to strategize and find a solution.”

Capt. Jody Singsank with the Wailuku Patrol Division said dirt bike complaints in Central Maui stretch from Iao to Waihee and include concerns raised by the Nature Conservancy because of damage reported to protected lands.

Capt. Singsank met with residents in a breakout session following the chief’s presentation to work on identifying times, locations and possible solutions for addressing the problem.

Several Iao Parkside Residents revisited a longstanding issue concerning speed and parking enforcement on Eha Street-a private road that is owned by the Iao Parkside Community Association.

“A couple of years ago we held a rally, which worked for a couple of hours, but nothing has been done since then,” said Diana McKeague, the Vice President of the Iao Parkside Board.  “You pull out and you can’t see in either direction until you’re in the road,” said McKeague.

Lt. Wally Tom said that while the department can enforce speed and reckless driving, it can not, under state law, enforce parking violations on the private road.

Among the suggestions made by fellow residents were a reduction in the speed limit, making the street a toll road, and increased self monitoring by the community association.

Authorities meantime, recommended further communication between the Iao Parkside Board and the County of Maui to expedite the transfer of the road from private to public domain.

Although the department is operating with a 30 person vacancy, Capt. Singsank said there are opportunities to do spot speed enforcement in problem areas.

Noting a death toll of 19 so far on Maui Roads this year, Chief Yabuta said, “Yes we are short on funding, but traffic and speed enforcement is a priority…it saves lives.”

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