(BIVN) – The Hawaiʻi County Council again dove into the issue of speed humps on Hawaiian Home Lands roads on Tuesday, as the council’s Public Works and Mass Transit Committee requested further discussion with the administration.
Before the meeting, Hilo councilwoman Sue Lee Loy provided this media release:
When a road on Hawaiian Homes land in Hawai‘i County needs speed humps for the safety of its residents, who pays for it? Hawai‘i County does, according to the Administration that negotiated the landmark Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the County in 2002.
Council Member Sue Lee Loy is placing the topic on the Public Works and Mass Transit Committee agenda scheduled for August 6, 2019, in Hilo, time to be determined.
The issue arose toward the end of the 2016-2018 Council term, when Resolution No. 740-18 was introduced by request of the Administration. This resolution authorized the Office of the Mayor to enter into a cost-sharing agreement that would have resulted in DHHL reimbursing the County for adding speed humps on Pakele Lane in the Hawaiian Homestead community of Keaukaha, in Council District 3.
In an effort to resolve the dispute, Council Member Lee Loy has met with community leaders and state and county officials, including Hawaiian Homes Commission Chair William Ailā, the Governor’s East Hawai‘i Liaison Dennis “Fresh” Onishi, and Public Works Director David Yamamoto.
The cost of the reimbursement would have been about $6,000. The resolution, later withdrawn, ignited a much larger debate about whether the MOA (approved by the Council in Resolution No. 19-03) obligates DHHL to pay for road infrastructure improvements in Hawai‘i County.
The MOA is clear that DHHL will build public infrastructure to County standards and the County will operate, repair, and maintain it. While it’s not clearly written how new speed humps fit into that mix, in a three-page letter to the Council on December 16, 2002 (Comm. No. 39.1). Mayor Harry Kim writes that “(t)he County has taken over the responsibility for traffic requirements on DHHL roads, including signs, markings and lights.” Two days later, during the discussion on Resolution No. 19-03, with then-Hawaiian Homes Commission Chairman Raynard Soon in attendance, Mayor Kim was asked what might happen should one of the parties exercise the termination clause. Mayor Kim’s response: “ … I do not think it should change regardless the existence of this Agreement or not – County’s responsibilities – as far as roadways, streetlights, and those things – that clearly identified during the discussion that these are ‘paid for’ by Fuel tax. And if there are County roads, we should pay for it, like any other County road.”
Council Member Lee Loy thanks Mayor Kim for his comments in 2002 that help to clarify the relationship between DHHL and Hawai‘i County regarding road infrastructure. She is hopeful that the discussion scheduled for August 6 will settle this matter so that residents on Pakele Lane will get the speed humps that they have been requesting for years.