A new law requires the City and County of Honolulu to take over any and all roads that don’t have a clear owner.

House Bill 115 became law Wednesday without the governor’s signature.

It says that if there’s a question about who owns a certain road and no one claims ownership, the city will take it over. This would mean the city and county would be responsible for the maintenance of the road.

Rep. Ryan Yamane, D, Mililani, Waikele, says there are hundreds of roads around Oahu that don’t have a clear owner, which, in the past, has left residents trying to figure out who to call to get the road fixed.

Until now, it’s been up to residents to figure out how to fix cracks, replace lost signs, and do other maintenance needed to keep their streets safe.

Thanks to this new law, roads that haven’t had a clear owner for at least five years will now be transferred to the City and County.

We’ve seen this problem in Kalihi, where businesses along Colburn Street in Kalihi, like Sun Noodle, can’t get the drainage problem fixed to avoid flooding.

It’s something Yamane says he’s been working on for almost a decade.

The city, however, sees challenges with this new law. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell wrote in testimony for the bill:

“This is a difficult issue with far-ranging consequences. The City believes that these challenges are best addressed through a roads commission or task force composed of members of the City and State to make recommendations on allocation of the roadways between the State and the City.”

But with this bill becoming law, it’s now up to the City and County to start maintaining private roads that in the past might have been neglected.

Some Mililani residents are happy about the change.

“It’s been a pretty significant problem,” said resident Will Kane. “I think the residents have to deal with that quite a bit, and as a taxpayer, I think it’s fair and equitable that the rest of us are able to get the benefits of everyone else, and this bill will allow this to happen for them as well.”

If you do live on a private road and aren’t sure who is supposed to maintain it, Yamane says you should reach out to your city council representative for help.

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