Sunday, October 08, 2006


Laws are nice, but how to get them enforced?

Hawaii must seem to visitors to be quite a lawless place. At least, if one observes the behavior of many of its residents. Oh, it's not that we don't have laws--each year the legislature passes plenty more of them. We have no actual shortage of laws here.

What we have is a lack of enforcement that makes a mockery of the laws. I've commented on this before.

I'm sure everyone in the hearing room rejoiced when the pedestrian crosswalk safety law passed--after all, it's unconscionable that seniors and other pedestrians were being killed as they crossed the streets even in marked crosswalks. But the law seems pretty useless because it is just not being enforced. Sure, when police do go to an intersection they can easily give out tickets one after another. The trouble is, police are seldom found at intersections ticketing motorists and so the law is ignored. Then when they do step out, perhaps when local pressure is applied, they have no trouble giving out tickets because, basically, motorists are used to getting away with breaking the law. I'll bet many of them are surprised to see a cop actually enforcing the traffic laws. (Let me say that I have also observed many drivers waiting patiently, and I wave thanks to them. I'm grateful and feel a bit safer when that happens.)

I walked to a meeting of the legislature on Friday, crossing Beretania Street at the corner of Alakea. Several cars turned and zoomed in front of me as I walked, even when I was more than half way across. One after another. I had to stop mid-way for them. Probably four or five cars. As I continued across, several passed right behind me. Where exactly are the police on this? You see plenty of police cars parked within a block of that intersection because of the courthouse nearby.

It's not just an Oahu thing. A couple of weeks ago on the Big Island I stopped at an intersection of Rt. 11 right at the corner where Borders is located. I was in the leftmost of two left-turn lanes, the first car to stop after the yellow light. Probably after the red had been shining for two seconds or more, a car to my right (in the rightmost turn lane) just flew through the intersection, making his turn despite the fact that the light had been red for some time. The day before, near Volcano, we were passed by a pickup that must have been doing 80-100. It came rapidly up behind us and passed our car despite the double yellow line.

Big Island lawbreakers make our Oahu speeders look like wimps.

Back on Oahu I visited a stationery store to pick up some stuff. There were at least three empty parking spots, yet a purple van without a placard pulled into the one handicap spot and the driver went in to the store. I called it in to the police and did my own shopping. When I came out, a blue Toyota was in the space, also without a placard <sigh>.

So what is to be done? Above I have written basically a report, or a rant, about situations I have noticed. Others have written letters to the editors about their observations of motorists and others breaking the law. It's not like this is a big secret.

Nor is it just an automobile issue. The same week we were on the Big Island, the Campaign Spending Commission decided it would suspend enforcement of limits on Mainland political contributions. How can they just do that?

Then there is the ongoing dispute about illegal vacation rentals. See this compelling op-ed by Kalana Best in today's Star-Bulletin. I don't believe there is any dispute that these vacation rentals are illegal, yet the problem goes on and on. I am familiar with a similar situation with regard to illegal "Ohana" additions to existing homes that are rented out. When we moved to Hawaii we rented a house, and just after we moved in, an addition was stuck onto the back of our garage and rented out.

It was illegal. The property manager knew it, presumably the owner knew it, but SO WHAT.

Speeding is illegal. SO WHAT.

Entering a crosswalk in front of a pedestrian is illegal. SO WHAT.

Operating a tourist business in residential Kailua or Lanikai is illegal. SO WHAT.

Maybe our tourist official should advertise the true freedom that visitors can experience if they come to Hawaii. Forget about laws, speed limits, stay where you like, practice your tailgating skills at 70 miles an hour on our highways. Enjoy playing chicken with pedestrians in crosswalks. Go through as many red lights as you like. Yes, even two, three, five, or more a day! No one will catch you. You'll never even see a cop. Maybe not for your entire stay. Enjoy.

There oughta be a law.


Post a Comment

Requiring those Captcha codes at least temporarily, in the hopes that it quells the flood of comment spam I've been receiving.

<< Home


page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Newer›  ‹Older