Q. Why is Blaisdell Center's electronic sign at the corner of Ward Avenue and Kapi'olani Boulevard allowed to advertise different events in a billboard-like way? I thought billboards were illegal and those are advertising events promoted by private companies even if it's a city facility, so I don't understand why that one's OK.
A. City officials say the existing Neal Blaisdell Center "electronic variable message sign" was constructed under a zoning waiver that was approved on Feb. 14, 1986. City Enterprise Services Deputy Director Gail Haraguchi said that means the waiver predates the current Land Use Ordinance sign regulations.
At that time, she said, "flashing signs" were permitted for the site under the Comprehensive Zoning Code. But the city still needed a waiver because the sign both exceeded the maximum 24-square-foot sign area allowed for "institutional signs" and encroached into the Thomas Square/Honolulu Academy of Arts Special District's 80-foot front yard setback, she said.
Haraguchi said buildings used for public purposes such as the Neal Blaisdell Center are eligible to apply for waivers to the strict zoning requirements — including sign regulations — and so the waiver has remained and been used to allow alterations and upgrades along the way.
Q. I was curious about the Bottle Bill Law regarding the 6 cents added on to each beverage container sold by retailers. Should this 6 cents be included in the calculation of sales tax?
A. The state 5-cent beverage deposit fee is exempt from the general excise tax. It is up to retailers whether to assess the excise tax on the 1-cent container fee.
State Transportation Department spokesman Scott Ishikawa passed along a little more information on the question from last week about why the state kept watering that stretch of freeway near the Waimalu /Pearl City off-ramp, even in the rain. While it's true there are no moisture sensors on that system, Ishikawa said the crews purposely have been watering there more lately.
"The constant irrigation is part of the H-1 widening project to have the landscaping in as quickly as possible to prevent dust from flying into the nearby neighborhoods," Ishikawa said.
If you have a question or a problem and need help getting to the right person, you can reach The Bureaucracy Buster one of three ways:
The Bureaucracy Buster
The Honolulu Advertiser
605 Kapi'olani Blvd.
Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone: 535-2454 and leave a message. Be sure to give us your name and daytime telephone number in case we need more information.
Corrections: Gail Haraguchi is the deputy director of the city Department of Enterprise Services. Her title was incorrect in a previous version of this story. Also, the state 5-cent beverage deposit fee is exempt from the general excise tax. It is up to retailers whether to assess the excise tax on the 1-cent container fee. Information in a previous version of this story was incorrect.