The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Kokua Line column
Mar 28, 2013 (The Honolulu Star-Advertiser - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Question: Why aren't all the satellite city halls operated the same way My 79-year-old mother went to the Wahiawa satellite to renew her state ID on Wednesday, March 20. After standing in line for about five hours, she and four other seniors had the door shut in their faces at 4 p.m. and told to return the next day. You can imagine the frustration and anger. There was only one line to renew both IDs and driver's licenses, unlike other city halls that have separate lines. Also, numbers should have been provided so those returning the next day could be serviced first and avoid having to stand in a long line again.
Answer: First, your mother must have been at the Wahiawa driver's licensing station, because the nearby Wahiawa satellite city hall does not handle any licensing or state ID transactions.
There are five driver's licensing/state ID locations on Oahu: in Kalihi, Ahuimanu, Kapolei, Wahiawa and Waianae. Three satellite city halls -- at Fort Street Mall, Hawaii Kai and Pearlridge -- handle driver's license renewals and duplicates, but not state IDs. The other seven satellites -- at Ala Moana, Kailua, Kalihi, Kapolei, Wahiawa, Waianae and Windward -- do not handle any driver's licensing or state ID transactions.
The 4 p.m. public closing is enforced because, by labor union agreement, workers need to leave at 4:30 p.m. or the city must pay overtime, "which we have almost no budget for," said Sheri Kajiwara, director of the city Department of Customer Services. They end service at 4 p.m. to give them time to close out their registers.
"Wahiawa has no room for a line inside, so must simply close (its) doors at 4 p.m.," she said.
Kajiwara said she went to the Wahiawa site to double-check that there are notices of the closing time. She provided photos of posted signs that say, "Wahiawa Driver's License closes the entrance door promptly at 4:00 P.M." and "Attention. We Close at 4:00 p.m. If you are not at a service window at that time, you will not be serviced."
She said many stations also make announcements warning people "they are taking chances if they choose to remain in line close to 4 p.m."
Some sites try to estimate the number of people who can be served, then allow that many in before locking the door at 3 p.m.
"But then there are complaints from those who show up at 3:15 and the doors are locked," Kajiwara said. "That's understandable, too."
Because of that, she said she is trying to determine the "least negative" way to address the situation and plans "to make standardized changes wisely rather than reactively."
Regarding ideas such as separate lines for licenses and IDs, a number-pull system or even a "return rights" pass, "No easy answers exist," Kajiwara said.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell did want to separate driver's licensing and state ID lines and that's being tested only at the licensing/state ID facility at City Square in Kalihi for now.
But it's not clear yet whether that's the best solution, Kajiwara said. To maintain requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as deal with privacy issues, most sites can't accommodate two lines without renovations, she said.
Meanwhile, a number-pull system is close to being set up as a pilot project at Koolau, but Kajiwara said, "There are many pro and con positions of this, too, and I am trying to address each one. Thus, the holdup."
"Return rights" is a more iffy proposition, because that may "cause greater issues the next day and may need a referee" to verify rights and explain to someone who arrived at 5 a.m. that "the lady with the ticket can cut" to the front.
"Then what if someone cannot return the next day and wants a ticket for end of the week " Kajiwara said. "Or simply shows up two days later with an old ticket
To employees of the state Department of Health's vital records office and the city driver's licensing stations. I read the Kokua Line readers' complaints about the long wait at both offices. I, too, had a long wait when I went to both places, but have praise for the people who work there. At both offices, they were efficient, patient and personable. I certainly could not handle such a demanding and stressful job! -- Gail Sliger/Makiki
Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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