Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Getting rid of roadside
vendors can be difficult

Question: Every weekend, a guy sets up shop under a tree and sells food near the corner of Kahekili Highway and Ahaolelo Road in Kahaluu. His customers' cars block the view of oncoming traffic, and people pulling over to the shoulder are an accident waiting to happen. The person I spoke with at a state agency said that when the state posts "no vending" signs they disappear the next night and without the signs the police will not enforce the law.

The vending law allows only one roadside stand by the farmer of an agricultural zoned lot, but any type of vending is against the law on a highway. Can you help? There are now other vendors every weekend at that spot.

Answer: The advice from the state Department of Transportation is to get your neighborhood board involved.

The DOT has worked successfully in the past with community leaders and the HPD "where overwhelming community concerns or obvious safety hazards to the public demanded that the vending be stopped," according to Director Rodney Haraga.

Getting the support of your neighborhood board "would definitely help expedite matters such as these," he said.

In 2000, the state Legislature reduced roadside vending along a state right of way from a misdemeanor to a petty misdemeanor, but extended the definition of the infraction to include the risk of creating a hazardous condition or public nuisance.

The problem is one of enforcement, not necessarily at the police level, but at the court level, according to the DOT.

The DOT's experience is that, in court, the charge is difficult to prosecute unless posted signs clearly define both the right of way and the prohibited activity, Haraga said.

And in rural areas such as Kahaluu, "we try not to put too many signs to 'keep the country country,'" he said.

As for the signs being removed, although some have "mysteriously disappeared," the problem is no more or less than with other road signs, he said.

Daniel Bender, chairman of the Kahaluu Neighborhood Board, says this is a "classic example" of the problems encountered when a state road is overseen by a county enforcement agency.

"The public is clearly stuck in the intersection between the inaction of two governments," he said.

Although Haraga said the DOT hasn't received any other complaint about the vendor you cite, Bender said that complaints about roadside vendors have come up periodically before the board during his 12-year tenure.

But Bender pointed out the purpose of the neighborhood boards is largely advisory. While the official position of his board is to support enforcing all laws, it has no enforcement power, he said.

In fact, Bender said, "We are forced to stand by and watch HPD motorized traffic officers 'talking story' with the roadside vendors," as he observed last Sunday while picking up trash along the highway.

Bender also suggested you contact the Kahaluu Neighborhood Board, whose meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at the KEY Project, 47-200 Waihee Road.

Bender said residents can air their concerns with representatives of state, city and federal governments. In your case, Haraga or his representative would be invited to discuss the issue, he said.

"When all the governments work together, public input is acted upon immediately," Bender said.

Planter low down

Regarding the complaint about the hollow-tile planters lining the sidewalk along Kalanianaole Highway from Kalani High School to the Wailupe Fire Station (Kokua Line, Tuesday), the state Department of Transportation said it didn't know when the planters were first installed.

A Kokua Line reader sent us this bit of historical information:

"The planters replaced the hibiscus hedges that were removed when the sidewalk was put in over the storm drain culvert back in the late 1960s or so when the highway was widened. Before the sidewalk was put in, there was only a dirt shoulder between the highway and the hibiscus hedge. The hedge served as a buffer between the shoulder and the culvert. The sidewalk added drainage culverts. Before then, rainwater ponded along the shoulder, and walking along the highway after a rain meant walking in mud and water above the ankles. If someone thinks walking along the highway is hazardous now, think of how hazardous it was with no sidewalk! The planters fell into disrepair over the years, and the hibiscus has died off in sections and never replaced. How do I know these things? I used to walk this route all the time."


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Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
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