LIHUE — Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. returned a bill to repeal Kauai’s barking dog ordinance to the County Council on Thursday, unsigned.
Even though he did not sign the bill, it goes into effect by default anyway, meaning the less than 2-year-old ordinance is no more.
Opponents of the effort to repeal the barking dog ordinance had hoped the mayor would veto Bill 2590 after it was approved by the council by a 4-3 margin Aug. 5.
Thursday was the deadline for the mayor to act.
In a letter to the council, Carvalho outlined his reasons for supporting the repeal of an ordinance he signed into law in 2014.
“After reviewing testimony for and against the barking dog ordinance, I believe the current law needs to be improved,” he wrote.
The issue of fairness in how the law was being implemented was at the top of the mayor’s list of concerns.
“I believe that there should be more than one witness of a dog barking,” Carvalho wrote.
The mayor also recommended making two additional changes in the event that the council decides to work on a new barking dog bill: require mediation before issuing a citation, and require a person who files a complaint about a neighbor’s barking dog to reimburse the animal owner if the complainant does not prevail in court.
Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura, who authored the original barking dog bill, did not mince words in describing her feelings to the mayor’s action.
“I am very disappointed. In my book he failed the leadership test for political courage to do the right thing and he has hurt many people and the community by his decision,” Yukimura wrote in a text message to The Garden Island.
As far as returning the bill to council without a signature, Yukimura characterized his actions as politically craven: “He should have signed (the repeal bill) if he was in favor of it,” she said.
Council Vice-Chair Ross Kagawa, who sponsored the repeal, thanked the mayor for not vetoing the bill.
“I want to personally extend my gratitude to Mayor Carvalho for not vetoing the problematic barking dog law, which allowed the Kauai Humane Society to issue 17 fines and citations to dog owners without even physically going out there to assess the situation and determining if the citation or fine was warranted,” Kagawa wrote.
Kagawa added that solely relying on the complainant’s word is insufficient evidence, resulting in violation of defendants’ due process rights.
Kagawa also defended the council majority’s decision to repeal the barking dog bill outright, rather than work to amend it.
“Once you discover that you have a bad law, you cannot leave it on — you need to clean the books,” he said in a phone interview.
In order for any nuisance noise ordinance to truly act as a deterrent, as the barking dog ordinance was originally intended, Kagawa said, it has to be able to hold up in court, which he said it did not.
Now that the issue is settled, Councilman Gary Hooser is moving forward.
“While I am very disappointed the mayor is supporting the repeal, I look forward to reviewing the comprehensive noise ordinance that Council Chair (Mel) Rapozo has promised he will be submitting in the very near future,” Hooser wrote in text message.
Councilmembers Mason Chock, Hooser and Yukimura voted to uphold the anti-barking ordinance. Arryl Kaneshiro, KipuKai Kuali’i, Kagawa and Rapozo voted for the repeal.
Ryan Kazmirzack, government reporter, can be reached at 245-0428.