Ask the Mayor: Exhorbitant Car Rentals; Slow Traffic Lights
By Mayor Alan Arakawa
Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.
Q: I work in Lahaina and have talked with many visitors who have a lot of negative things to say about their rental car experiences here. During the holidays, prices for rental cars were astronomical; I heard them talking about $1000/week. Are the rental car companies subject to any restrictions on price gouging? Also, I had a client recently who had lost their rental car keys. They were told by the rental car company that they’d have to bring them a new car as they didn’t have spare keys! They would also have to pay for a tow truck to bring the first car back to the baseyard. We have all been through tough economic times recently, and the last thing we should want is visitors going home with bad feelings of being ripped off. Can you do something to keep things fair?
A: The county does not have a department that handles consumer issues; however, the state Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) handles complaints about rental car companies and other businesses. To report unfair or deceptive business practices, visit the OCP website at www.hawaii.gov/dcca/ocp; if you do not have internet access, call the Maui office at 243-4648. The web page contains links to “File a Consumer Complaint,” as well as information on identity theft, landlord-tenant issues and mortgage foreclosures. OCP has jurisdiction over a wide range of businesses and commercial activities including motor vehicle rentals, door-to-door sales, solar energy devices, offers of gifts and prizes, refunds and exchanges, collection practices, towing, and fine prints. OCP also has recently investigated and initiated enforcement actions in numerous consumer fraud cases stemming from mortgage foreclosure rescue scams under HRS Chaps. 480 and 480E.
Q: I’ve noticed that some roads in Kahului are in disrepair, especially on Hina, Papa and Wakea avenues. I moved to Kahului in 1980 and never to this day have these roads been completely renewed as Lono Avenue was last year. Kahului roads are constantly being patched, and the condition can be very dangerous. Case in point: drivers are always avoiding the rough rides by moving to the right shoulder and through the bike lane. Is Kahului a lower priority than Kihei and Lahaina?
A: I’m pleased to announce that we now have federal funding for Kamehameha, Hina, Papa, and Wakea to do complete reconstruction of the roadways and any sidewalks needing repair as well. In fact, we have one project for Kamehameha and Hina that we moved up one year in the queue for federal funding so that we can begin work this year. All districts get road work every year, and some get more than others in specific years as federal funds for those individual projects become available.
Q: Our issues have to do with two stoplights and the extreme and seemingly unnecessary delays in the lights “changing” during various parts of the day. The first is the light on Central and Main Streets (at the Minit Stop). During daytime hours, especially from around 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., there are severe back-ups, sometimes traffic backs up all the way to Mill Street. The second light is at the left turn from Ka‘ahumanu onto Lunalilo at Central Maui Storage. During the evening hours and weekends the light changes quickly. However, during the day one can sit, waiting, for several minutes when there is little or no traffic heading up into Wailuku. Again, we are not sure if these are county lights or state, but are hopeful you can either help or provide more info.
A: State DOT Highways controls the two intersections you mentioned; the phone number is listed in the Government pages in the front of the phone book under State Offices, Dept. of Transportation – Highways Division, Maui District Office. In general, signal timing is set to change throughout the day. The roadway getting the majority of traffic during peak hours (morning rush, after school, and pau hana times) will have long green through-times, and shorter green times for the cross-street. During some non-peak times, and especially during late evening hours, the signals will easily accommodate traffic from the smaller streets and quickly stop traffic on the major roadway.
Want to Ask the Mayor?
Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email: [email protected], 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.