A bill is being debated that would attempt to fix the problem of substandard roads in private subdivisions by requiring Hawaii County to assess and spend road maintenance fees.
House Bill 2570 would start a three-year pilot program that would involve the county and state Department of Transportation identifying roads that are in such disrepair that emergency vehicles experience unreasonable delays.
The county would then collect fees from lot owners in the subdivisions to pay for road improvements and maintenance.
Rep. Joy San Buenaventura, who introduced the bill, said it’s intended to stop infighting within the large private subdivisions regarding who to pay fees to and provide additional oversight. She said the county should take the responsibility since it approved the subdivisions.
“The Hawaii Supreme Court already said in these infrastructure-less subdivisions, there is a duty to contribute toward infrastructure,” she said. “But it never said who to do it.”
The House committees on Housing and Water and Land amended the bill Wednesday to try this approach as a pilot first.
County Planning Director Michael Yee submitted written testimony against the bill, though he praised San Buenaventura, D-Puna, for trying to address the issue.
He said it would place an unfair burden on the county.
“To move this issue forward in the County of Hawaii, a feasibility study is needed that would include financing and implementation options,” Yee wrote. He suggested funding of $300,000 to pay for a road feasibility study.
Written testimony submitted to the committees was mostly in support.
“I believe the county should be responsible on organizing the collection of fees and maintaining our roads,” wrote Francisco Arellano of Hawaiian Paradise Park. “We pay the same share of taxes as any other community in Hilo.”
Diana Miller wrote that maintenance of private roads should be left up to the neighborhoods.
“Adding another requirement like this will likely require additional personnel and increased budget and eventually higher taxes to cover the requirements,” she said.
The bill was referred to the House Finance Committee.
Email Tom Callis at firstname.lastname@example.org.