Kokua Line
June Watanabe

Left-turn light
planned for

Question: Driving mauka on Punahou Street and trying to make a left turn onto Beretania Street is a problem from about 4 to 7:30 p.m. (I don't know if there is a problem in the mornings.)

Specifically, there are just too many cars going makai on Punahou and continuing across Beretania that those wanting to turn left at the intersection don't have a chance to make the left turn onto Beretania until the traffic light changes to yellow or sometimes red. Oftentimes this means that there is only enough time for one car to turn left. They can correct this problem by adding a left-turn-only signal like they did at the King-Punahou intersection. Can you help bring this to the attention of the proper agency?

Answer: We posed your question to the city Department of Transportation Services, which had a ready answer: Yes.

That's because the addition of a left-turn signal at the intersection was already in the works when we contacted the department.

Ty Fukumitsu, a traffic engineer with the city Department of Transportation Services, said traffic officials agree that many cars want to turn left from Punahou onto Beretania.

"Because of that, we are adding in a left-turn signal light at that intersection," he said.

Right now, the department is waiting for the contractor who successfully bid on the contract to get back with necessary paperwork, Fukumitsu said.

After that and pending the shipment of materials from the mainland, he estimates work to install the new signal can begin by September or October.

Q: There is a house on Alewa Heights with a small chimney. Every time the owner lights it up, people living above him suffer from all the stuff he burns. Is that legal?

A: Fireplace usage is not regulated in Hawaii, so the short answer is that the homeowner is not doing anything illegal.

The city allows residents to build and use fireplaces, points out Janice Okubo, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health.

The city has regulations regarding the height of a chimney, the amount of open space required around it, etc., but there are no laws regarding what is burned in a fireplace.

You can call the department's Clean Air Branch at 586-4200 and ask it to look into smoke generated by your neighbor. But it can't prevent the homeowner from "lighting up."

The Health Department's mission would mainly be to educate the owner on what should or should not be burned and how the smoke is affecting neighbors.

"We can go out, investigate and educate the homeowner, and sometimes the homeowner doesn't realize the effects on the neighborhood and sometimes they do," Okubo said.

However, the homeowner has to be willing to hear the concerns. Health inspectors can't demand to enter a home to check out the fireplace.

As we reported previously, past attempts to persuade lawmakers to regulate fireplace usage or to prohibit it in certain areas have failed.


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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