Kapolei Bids Adieu To Banyans

Talking Story …Sen. Mike Gabbard

Aloha e Friends, I’m very thankful that we escaped the wrath of Hurricane Ana. I hope you use this close call as an opportunity to get your emergency-preparedness kit ready. Please contact me at 586-6830 or sengabbard@capitol.hawaii. gov if I can help you or your family in any way.

Makakilo Brush Fire

I’ve been getting feedback from my constituents in the Makakilo area about the recent brush fire that put many homes in danger.

Some suggested that Honolulu Fire Department consider policy changes that could improve public safety. We’ve been communicating with Capt. Brett Lomont of Fire Prevention Bureau regarding this matter, and I wrote to Fire Chief Manny Neves Oct. 15 asking him to:

* Assess whether existing firebreaks are being sufficiently maintained to protect Oahu neighborhoods from brush fires.

* Assess whether current requirements for firebreaks are sufficient when the firebreaks are maintained.

* Consider whether the fire code should be amended to require firebreaks of more than 30 feet.

* Consider whether the HFD should, as the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), require additional firebreaks of up to 100 feet, as allowed by fire code.

* Consider whether more public education is needed on bushfire mitigation and safety for homeowners and owners of brush land adjacent to homes.

I hope to use the information we get back from the chief to possibly craft legislation for the 2015 session to better protect public safety.

Roosevelt Avenue Tree Update

There are 18 Chinese banyan trees along the western end of Roosevelt Avenue in Kapolei, and they are infested with four types of pests: two species of gall wasps, black thrips and lobate lac scale. I conducted a meeting Sept. 24 with representatives from the state Department of Transportation (DOT), Hawaii Community Development Authority, Outdoor Circle and Makakilo-Kapolei-Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board to come up with a plan moving forward. DOT will remove all the trees in the interest of safety, because as the trees become more diseased, there’s a potential for branches and the trees themselves to fall, impact traffic and potentially cause injuries. DOT then will replace the banyans with a fast-growing native species called dwarf white tacoma.

Listen Story Meeting

My next “Listen Story” meeting will be held in Kapolei High School teachers lounge from 9 to 10 a.m. Nov. 29.