West Maui fires were preventable

I just finished reading Clay Trauernicht’s piece “Fire Is the One Hawaii Disaster We Can Avoid,” Sept. 12, and am very much in agreement with Clay’s points.

But I think it is worth providing some additional information regarding the West Maui fires. First, please note that Launiupoko is a Firewise Community!

I moved to Kahului from the Makila side of Launiupoko, where the fires were. The Launiupoko community is a Firewise Community and I, along with Gordon Firestein, chaired that committee for our neighborhood. We completed assessments and provided all our neighbors with tips on how to make their homes and properties fire wise. An extensive public education campaign was conducted and we received our Firewise certification. We circulated tips on how to build a home and lay out a property to reduce fire risk. We also circulated tips on how to make your existing property and already built home safer.

This was successful in that many people made simple changes to their properties. I was also on the board at Makila and we maintained the sides of the bike path to create a fire break and kept our grass verges green.

Unfortunately, during the past year, an agricultural water restriction went into place after I moved out of the neighborhood. I understand the need for such restrictions to restore stream flows but an unfortunate side effect was that yards and lawns began to suffer and there was much less green space in the area. In addition, the grass verges were no longer being watered (or perhaps watered infrequently) and all that roadside grass looked dry and brittle last time I drove through the area.

So bottom line is competing objectives (stream restoration and fire prevention) contributed to the situation in West Maui. The answer to this is not a simple one and will require time and effort on the part of our community and our leaders but needs to be addressed to prevent this or a worst fire disaster from happening here again.

— Linda Jenkins, Kahului

Teacher Shortage

Military may not be the answer to more teachers

No doubt there is a crisis in the public schools of Hawaii. Using former military as teachers may be a real asset in many parts of the United States. (“Hawaii Turns to Military In Search For More Teachers,” Aug. 31) In Hawaii, however, the U.S. military has a long and difficult history. It was with the support of U.S. Marines and Navy sailors that a small group of businessmen were able to
overthrow Queen Liliuokalani. The Massie Affair in the early 1930s revealed how the military conducted themselves in Hawaii and treated Hawaiians. The bombings of Kahoolawe, Makanalua, and currently Pohakuloa, military bases set on enormous pieces of the most desirable land, housing stipends that drive up the cost of rent for locals, and access to parts of the islands that kanaka maoli cannot visit, are all current issues between Hawaiians and the military.

If this plan is to genuinely be positive for all, it must include significant education of the teachers on the role military has played here, and appropriate and respectful ways to introduce themselves and interact with their new students and within the community. Hooponopono may be a path of healing and success. Failure to acknowledge the history will only cause more pain for the students that we all want to help.

— Ruth Coules. Honolulu

Trevor Ozawa

Check the councilman’s record before voting

Regarding “Candidate Q&A: Honolulu City Council District 4 – Trevor Ozawa,” Sept. 15:

Mr Ozawa’s ideas of “dialogue and negotiations” with developers sound good, but often, there is no follow-through. He claims to have “secured 60 percent of SamKoo’s 484-unit Kapiolani Residence be made affordable.” However, as we have seen time and again, developers promise one thing to get building approval, only to come back months later asking for variances on density, height — and the percentage of “affordable” units. Developers claim they can’t make enough profit on their original plans, and the City Council usually grants the variances. Voters should know if Councilman Ozawa has voted to grant these types of variances that do nothing to alleviate the housing crisis.

— Sean Goodspeed, Ala Moana