Letters to the Editor


POSTED: Sunday, December 07, 2008

Heroes fight fire and serve breakfast

Heroes are all around us. Last week my elderly disabled neighbor, her wheelchair-bound roommate and family suffered through a kitchen fire. The roofer on the next building came running to help, the granddaughter tried to extinguish the fire with her hands, and the firemen were there in minutes and took control of the situation. There were oxygen cylinders in the home that could have exploded. The firemen risked their lives to help; because of them, no one was grievously injured.

What happened next just puts icing on the cake. My neighbor was hospitalized overnight due to the smoke. The firemen were there at her home the next morning, and brought breakfast for her and cleaned away the debris. This was above and beyond what these fine people had to do. Thank you, firemen from Mililani Station No. 36. This year you made my Christmas.

Pauline Arellano

Smelly benches keep Waikiki crews busy

As director of Honolulu's Department of Parks and Recreation, I share T.A. Ruby's concern and frustration about the foul odors that often permeate some beachfront benches in Waikiki (Letters, Dec. 1).

We realize this is a problem, and we take it seriously. Our crews clean these areas several times each day. The benches and surrounding areas are pressure-washed, scrubbed and disinfected a minimum of three times a week, and we will increase these efforts as resources allow.

Unfortunately, some individuals continue to use these public areas as personal toilets. Mayor Mufi Hannemann has made it clear that this is unacceptable, and we are taking appropriate steps to address these problems while respecting the rights of all who use public parks and facilities. We agree that Waikiki must be clean, safe and welcoming to everyone.

Lester K.C. Chang
Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation

B&Bs 'brouhaha' benefits Maui

While the Honolulu City Council has been embroiled in a brouhaha about vacation rentals from opponents such as Ursula Retherford (Letters, Dec. 1), the Maui County Council has heard a different voice.

Maui residents, small businesses and farmers have supported new licensing of bed and breakfasts as long as the owner lives on the property, provides parking and maintains quiet hours.

It's a win-win-win situation for Maui residents, Maui County and Maui visitors.

» B&Bs moderate neighborhood traffic and increase street parking. They reduce criminal events and contribute to the peace and quiet in the neighborhoods.

» B&Bs help maintain property values and provide windfall tax revenues for the county.

» B&Bs help us share the aloha of our neighborhoods with visitors, returning friends and relatives.

» Importantly, B&Bs create jobs at home. It's hard to deny the importance these jobs and the diversity these accommodations provide to Hawaii's visitor industry.

The brouhaha coming from Maui is the applause and cheers of Maui residents in finally getting fair and reasonable licensing of B&Bs in their community.

Will Page

Too many rentals endanger aloha spirit

Sen. Fred Hemmings has spoken out repeatedly on the perils of both overdevelopment and ill-suited development. He keeps reminding us of the finite resources of our island. Like him, we must all ask, how much more development, how many more visitors can a small island with limited and fragile resources sustain? How far into residential areas can we insert tourist accommodations before the social fabric of our communities breaks down?

I agree with Hemmings that we should not let more resort accommodations in the form of bed and breakfasts and other transient vacation rentals spill over into our residential neighborhoods. They should be limited to resort-zoned areas where the infrastructure and visitor amenities are already in place. Our neighborhoods are intended to be places for residents to live, bring up their families in safety and in the spirit of commitment to the community. This is where the aloha spirit is born and nurtured.

It is the magic of aloha that has long attracted visitors to our island, and that is now on the wane as the demands of tourism take precedence over housing and other needs of our local population.

When an increasing number of visitors describe their stay in Hawaii as “;less than favorable,”; and you hear more and more people on the mainland and elsewhere say they get more for their money elsewhere, we should re-examine the wisdom of further crushing that precious ingredient that only Hawaii offers: aloha.

Mollie Foti

Who is following the bailout money?

The congressional hearings on the auto industry bailout make me a little ill. You should know the politicians are going to give them the money or they would not have asked for a plan. The hearings were just shibai to sell the public on the idea that it's justified.

The real total to date for all these bailouts is around $8.5 trillion. Not $700 billion that the media expound upon. It's 12 times the $700 billion.

If one calculates the cost of this $8.5 trillion for each U.S. taxpayer, it amounts to just over $61,200 per U.S. taxpayer.

If the auto industry bailout is $34 billion, then we can add $245 to the $61,200 per taxpayer. Hey, that's only 0.4 percent more. Chump change.

Makes one wonder if anyone is keeping track of all this money or even cares. Don't you think, as I do, that we should have some kind of financial accounting for all this money? But then again those spending it don't seem to be worrying about accounting for it, so why should I?

Don Gerbig
Lahaina, Maui

Djou's plan would cause more disruption

Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou's lack of vision is staggering. We saw it when he put forth his texting and video game ban while driving. A true visionary would have added a ban on phone calls when driving without a hands-free device. It would save time in the legislative process to bundle these bans and save lives.

Now here he is trying to drop the rail project into a populated area. I thought he was pro-business and pro-family. The current plan allows for the families and businesses that will be affected time to relocate.

Djou's plan would have this process fast-tracked and displace those businesses and families almost immediately. It also would increase the number of those displaced by having to build the base yard in a heavily populated area.

Djou fought rail at every turn and now he wants to micromanage the project. Has he seen the light or is he just posturing for his congressional run? Maybe he thinks he can kill the rail project if he meddles with it enough.

Michael Golojuch Jr.

It makes sense to start rail downtown

Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou is correct; the common-sense way to build the rail is to start where it will be used the most and relieve traffic right away. That way is not starting construction on the Ewa side but to start downtown.

As I grew up in Washington, D.C., the metro was built in the city first and moved its way to the suburbs as time went by. They are still adding tracks further and further outside the city. This common-sense approach ensures it will be used right away. Come on, Mufi, what are you thinking?

Bob Martin
Hawaii Kai

Automatic pay methods might hike taxes

We wish to thank Roy M. Chee of Honolulu for the suggestion he submitted in his Dec. 3 letter. The electronic transmittal by e-mail of real property assessment notices does save resources for both the property owner and the city.

Unfortunately, payment of real property taxes by credit card and automatic bill payment currently does not afford such savings. With payments by credit or debit card, the city incurs a merchant fee that is a percentage of the amount of the credit card charge.

Similarly, with automatic bill payment, additional fees are assessed. The city would need to absorb that cost or pass it on to the taxpayer. Since real property tax payments can be quite substantial, the merchant fee might be prohibitive and significantly higher than other forms of payment now being accepted.

The city continually examines ways to improve services and implement those that are cost-effective. Therefore, when the cost to accept credit cards and other forms of payment becomes reasonable, we will make them available.

Another option is the online and telephone bill paying services that most financial institutions offer their account holders. The convenience it affords is comparable but at no added cost.

Mary Pat Waterhouse
City Department of Budget and Fiscal Services

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