Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Sunday, August 19, 2001

Lights embedded in
crosswalk were meant
for temporary use

Question: Regarding the amber lights that were embedded across Pali Highway near Jack Lane: Pedestrians were supposed to activate them when they wanted to cross the highway. They were supposed to be an innovative method to slow down traffic and call attention to pedestrians. I don't see the lights anymore. Have they been removed? If so, why?

Answer: The lights were never meant to be permanent and were removed when a traffic signal at the intersection was completed last October, a state Department of Transportation spokeswoman said.

The lights were embedded across the highway at that intersection -- scene of several serious pedestrian accidents -- in March 2000. It was a test by the DOT to see whether they would improve safety at pedestrian crossings that did not have a traffic signal.

At the time they were installed, they were not considered a standard traffic control device. Thus, under the Federal Highways Administration's policy, they could be used on a trial basis only, the DOT spokeswoman said.

Since then, however, the highways administration has designated the lights as standard devices, which means they can be installed permanently, she said. However, they cannot be used at signalized intersections.

The DOT installed a similar flashing crosswalk system at the intersection of Farrington Highway and Alawa Place in Waianae on Aug. 1, but decided to do so on a trial basis.

Q: I recently went to Brew Moon with a gift certificate that was purchased over a year ago. Although it expired on June 30, 2001, I thought the Better Business Bureau said that gift certificates should still be valid one year from the date of expiration. However, the manager would not honor my certificate because (unbeknownst to me) the restaurant was under new ownership. Am I wrong? Is he wrong? Have I lost out on $25?

A: Although there is a state law that says all purchased gift certificates should be good for two years (one year, plus another year following the expiration date), there may be an exception if a "new company" or owner is involved, said Stephen Levins, acting executive director of the state Office of Consumer Protection.

In this case, Brew Moon was taken over by Honolulu Brewing Company on April 16 after the old company, Brew Moon Enterprises, went bankrupt, according to general manager Shawn Rubert.

Honolulu Brewing "did not have to honor anything once (the old company) went bankrupt but we wanted to be a good neighbor and do the right thing so we honored them to the expiration date," he said.

The restaurant honored gift certificates issued under the old ownership until the end of June. Rubert noted that about $3,000 worth of gift certificates were redeemed during the last week of that month.

The only certificates now being accepted are the ones sold after April 16, and those certificates are clearly stamped with Honolulu Brewing Company LLC, Rubert said.

He said you have the option as a creditor to petition the bankruptcy court in Boston to try to get the value of your gift certificate.

Speaking generally and not about Brew Moon, Levins said, "You really have to look at ... the terms of the sale as to whether a new company is going to be held responsible for gift certificates or not."

Even if a new company may not be obligated to do so, there may be other factors involved that would require it to honor gift certificates, he said. It then "becomes a factual analysis" of the situation.

Levins said consumers can contact his office, 586-2636, if they have any questions.

Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
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