The importance of citizen reporting.
Your reports do make a difference. So when you see something please say something. Whether it is being the first person to activate the emergency responders, or bringing a problem to the attention of the appropriate authorities.
If you see something you should say something. Why? The various County and State departments have the ability to respond to problems and bring in resources. They also have investigation and enforcement capabilities as well. These resources need to be activated and alerted to any ongoing or developing issues. Citizen reporting is the first step in the response chain of getting problems solved.
Our administration and essential services are “complaint driven” meaning if no one complains, they will not take any action. (A “complaint” can be any report, tip, request for service, request for assistance, email, request for clarification, etc.). However, too often people see things and let them pass. So a thousand small problems and transgressions go unreported. Then these small problems tend to build into larger ones. But by then they are much harder to address. If you have a hole in your roof, it is better to fix it before the water gets in. Many problems are naturally occurring, like fallen trees, or dead animals on the roadways, and there are plenty of problems that are man-made, like abandoned vehicles, pollution, theft, and vandalism.
These days our environment, standard of living, rights, and liberties, are being chipped away by a thousand small cuts. In South Maui and other parts of our islands, we are living with failing infrastructure, aging amenities, and increasing challenges from climate change, and overpopulation. Meanwhile, some people and businesses are bending laws, cutting corners, cheating, and being selfish. But we all carry the burden of living with these problems, and it eventually weighs us all down. In response, we can act as responsible individuals or come together in community groups to share our voices.
In simpler times we all knew our neighbors, and could easily see who was not a part of the community and it was easier to address the issue. Communities stuck together to address issues and toxic people would be ostracized. But nowadays most people do not know their neighbors. Especially in South Maui where the population is now made up largely of part-timers, visitors, and new residents. So many newcomers either do not know the history of an area or the community standards, or they are reluctant to say anything, or they bring in values from their mainland cultures and try to apply them here. This “un-knowing” can manifest in many ways, for example, new residents cutting down their neighbor’s trees, people pushing their green waste into the gulches and streams, or taking sand rocks, and plants out of parks, dunes, and beaches. Also, people coming here and exploiting the housing market, turning homes into illegal vacation rentals, and contributing to housing shortages.
Increasingly, we are seeing homeowners, developers, and builders diverting stormwater, and affecting local streams and watersheds. This is contributing to neighborhood flooding, especially in the coastal floodplain. We are seeing upcountry landowners encroaching on streams, and developers diverting rainwater in hundreds of small ways, which all contribute to a dysfunctional watershed, and the flooding issues we can see today.
There are too many problems to list here, but each of us sees some of these small problems in our daily lives. We come across many of these issues every day. But we have either learned to accept them or to ignore them. Examples, stepping over homeless people on the sidewalk, or driving through flooded roadways every time it rains. But if we never say anything, then we are complicit in perpetuating those things.
All county departments have official channels to lodge complaints, you can report the facts, and become part of the solution. It often takes several complaints to get the wheels of government turning and the actions to be initiated. Politicians are “people-drivin”, so they want to please their constituents, and they want to address the community’s concerns. So it is up to all of us to voice our concerns to the people with the power to change things. Citizen reporting through the correct channels is an important part of dealing with most of these issues. This can mean writing emails, calling in reports, speaking up at council meetings, testifying at committees, etc. Every time you speak up and say something, you can help to protect the Aina, and you can help to protect your community from these problems before they grow too big to manage.
We all see things we know are hurting the community or the environment, so we just need to take the next step, and do something. Either say something, make a report, and share what you know, so that we can preserve and protect what is important.
CONTACT NUMBERS AND LINKS:
MPD Police non-emergency number: Phone: (808) 244-6400
Reporting/Road Drainage/Flood Problems (Hi DOT): https://www.mauicounty.gov/directory.aspx?DID=460
Contact the respective district office during normal working hours 7:00am to 3:30pm; except for Hana 6:30am to 3:00pm: and Lahaina 6:00am to 2:30pm.
Hana District: (808) 876-4590
Lahaina District: (808) 270-4370
Lanai District: (808) 565-7086
Makawao District: (808) 876-4535
Molokai District: (808) 553-3222
Wailuku District: (808) 270-7443
After hours call Maui Police Department at (808)244-6400
Hotlines. DLNR Enforcement: (808) 643-DLNR. https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/docare/complaints/
Maui County RFS (request for service): https://www.mauicounty.gov/76/Request-for-Service
To report illegal rentals, visit https://www.mauicounty.gov/1776/Request-for-Service or call the Zoning and Enforcement Division at 270-7253
COM Connect: https://www.mauicounty.gov/2024/COM-Connect
COM Connect (short for County of Maui Connect) is a place-based reporting platform that allows residents to document neighborhood concerns and improvements alike, ranging from litter and flooding to damaged sidewalks and malfunctioning traffic signals. The app is available for free through most iPhone and Android app stores and is already active. COM Connect will allow residents also report community issues, as well as view, comment on, and vote to fix problems submitted by their neighbors. Citizens can even create their own “watch areas” to receive notifications about all issues reported in their community, enabling them to follow the progress of all service requests – not just the ones they report.
To report issues without using the COM Connect app, please call or contact the Office of the Mayor at (808) 270-7855 or Email Mayor’s Office.