Kokua Line

June Watanabe

School working on
traffic and tree problems

Question: Waialae School has three shower trees, which continuously shed leaves on our property and all along 19th Avenue fronting the school. Branches were cut only inside of the school yard, leaving the rest extending outside. Also, parents, etc., create traffic problems morning and afternoon. Getting out of and into our driveway is troublesome at times. Although no signs are up, cars are not allowed to park on the homeowners' side of the street, but there are offenders. Trucks, SUVs, etc., use our driveway as a turnaround, causing the ground to sink and flood on rainy days. We have placed traffic cones to remedy this problem. Can you help?

Answer: The school has received complaints about the shedding trees and the inconsiderate drivers and has tried to alleviate, if not resolve, both concerns.

On the matter of the trees, the state Department of Accounting and General Services is responsible for maintenance, said Annette Masutani, chief education officer (principal) of Waialae, a public charter school in Kaimuki.

The department trims the trees once or twice a year, she said, adding that the whole tree, not just the branches on the school's property, is trimmed. On top of that, "One of our custodians goes out there and sweeps and rakes the leaves at least three times a week," Masutani said.

The school recently submitted a request for the trees to be trimmed again, in addition to their regular trimming.

Meanwhile, the Outdoor Circle works closely with the Department of Education on tree issues, although the group has no authority to tell the DOE what to do, said Mary Steiner, president of the organization.

The Outdoor Circle has been consulted in the past about the shower trees and recommends that the school and neighbors try to work the problem out, Steiner said.

The organization helps the department "to identify which trees are hazardous, in which case we would recommend that they be removed," she said. "In the case of these shower trees, because they drop their flowers ... is not a reason to cut down the tree. Trees are really important to our environment."

Regarding vehicular traffic, Masutani said the school "constantly" sends notices throughout the year, reminding parents not to park on your side of 19th Avenue and to be considerate of the neighborhood. A notice is also posted on the office door.

(Although most grassy "sidewalk" areas are public property, many streets in Kaimuki are privately owned, a city official told Kokua Line previously. Although the city has taken over maintenance of the streets, the grassy areas are private property.)

"We also send home a traffic-flow map of how we want parents to drop their kids off -- they're supposed to be going mauka, not dropping off on the other side of the street and parking on that side," Masutani said. A counselor also goes out every morning to direct traffic to make sure that people don't park there.

"We're trying the best as we can to co-exist without being a nuisance to our neighbors ... but we can't control everything," she said.


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