East Hawaii News

Votes on ‘Albizia Bill,’ Annual Bus Passes Postponed

September 19, 2013, 11:16 AM HST
* Updated September 19, 4:58 PM
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The Hawaii County Council on Wednesday postponed a vote on a bill that would allow the county to clear private property of trees posing a threat to other lots and structures.

Councilman Zendo Kern, who introduced Bill 64, asked his colleagues to postpone a final vote on the measure until its next meeting scheduled for Oct. 2.

Kern told Big Island Now that the bill still needs some fine-tuning.

“I want to make sure the bill is as good as it possibly can be,” he said.

The bill, which is in its second draft, would expand existing county law to allow neighbors of property containing “unsafe flora” to ask that the offending tree be removed, either by the landowner or by the county at the landowner’s expense.

The bill has been dubbed the “Albizia Bill” because that fast-growing species has proved to be a particular problem in taking over both private and public lands.

In other actions Wednesday, council members deferred a final vote on a bill that would allow for the purchase of annual passes for the county’s Hele-On bus system.

Beginning in July, the county raised bus fares to $2 for the general public and $1 for students, senior citizens and the disabled. Sheets of 10 tickets can be purchased for the discounted rate of $15 and $7.50, respectively.

The county also sells monthly bus passes for unlimited rides for $60 for the general public and $45 for others.

Bill 108, introduced by Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille, would establish annual passes costing $500 for the general public and $350 for seniors 60 and older and the disabled.

On Wednesday the bill was amended establish a pilot program to gauge the acceptance of the longer passes on a six-month basis. It would run from Jan. 1, 2014 until June 30, 2014 and offer semi-annual passes for $250 and $175.

That bill is scheduled to be taken up again on Oct. 16.

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