Ask The Mayor: Why Isn’t Trash Picked Up Before Roadsides are Mowed?

February 16, 2015, 11:52 AM HST · Updated February 23, 10:59 AM
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Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.

Aloha Mayor:

File photo by Wendy Osher.

File photo by Wendy Osher.

Q: My question concerns the roadside mowing being done by the county. As a longtime resident of Maui who has lived all over the island, I am appalled how the mowing is done without first picking up the trash. I have never seen any of the mower operators pick up trash, therefore, when the mowers run over the trash, they turn one piece of litter into dozens. I run along the roads of Maui and see this all the time. As someone that spends his free time picking up other people’s trash, this really ticks me. Glass, plastic, Styrofoam–you name it–gets shredded by the mowers.

Why is this allowed to happen? It is an ugly blight on our beautiful slice of paradise and one that seems easy enough to resolve. Couldn’t the county hire some people to do roadside cleanups the day before mowing? Or perhaps the county could coordinate the mowing with the roadside trash pickup volunteers. There must be a simple solution to this problem. Thanks for your time.

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A: The simplest solution is for people to not throw trash along the roadsides. However, in reality it’s not quite that simple. County Public Works-Highways Division crews are responsible for mowing the shoulders of county roads adjacent to ag-zoned property of greater than 15 acres. And while crews are instructed to check for excessive debris before mowing, oftentimes the weeds are so dense that workers can’t see the trash under the weeds.

Most of the Adopt-A-Highway litter collection efforts are focused on state highways, and hiring people to pick up trash along roadways is an expensive undertaking. At one time, the county had a general policy that if Community Work Day, now doing business as Mālama Maui Nui, had a volunteer group doing a roadside litter pickup, our crews wouldn’t mow until after the scheduled cleanup, unless the growth was so bad that it posed a safety hazard. This type of coordination certainly helps reduce the amount of litter that gets mixed in with the mowing operations, but is dependent on volunteers.

Folks willing to “adopt” their own stretch of road they see being littered can contact Mālama Maui Nui at 877-2524 or by emailing [email protected]. MMN provides safety vests, buckets, bags, gloves, trash pickers and trash pickup service for those volunteer coordinators who arrange their own cleanups. You can also visit the organization’s website for information on the upcoming “Great American Cleanup,” which will focus on roadside cleanups from March 1 to June 30, 2015. Vist www.cwdhawaii.org for more information. Continuing to educate the public to not dump rubbish is vital, and we join our community partner agencies in reminding residents and visitors alike that it is our responsibility to take care of our island home.

Want to Ask the Mayor?
Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email to [email protected], by phone at 270-7855 or mail to 200 S. High Street, 9th Floor, Wailuku, Hawai‘i 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the Ask the Mayor column.

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