MOILIILI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Tenants in the Plumeria Hale high-rise are learning the hard way about elevator inspections -- the state is backlogged, and their only elevator is on the list.
There are 66 units in the 21-story building. Since mid-March the only way up and down has been the stairwell.
"It's a bummer doing laundry and bringing up groceries," tenant Taylor Riis said.
At least once a day he climbs fourteen floors to his apartment. The elevator was shut down for an upgrade, but tenants say the work is nearly completed.
"Our elevator is basically ready, that's what we've been told," Jon Gunderson said. "We're just waiting for an inspector to approve it before anyone can use it."
But the wait will be longer than expected. The state was supposed to inspect the renovated elevator tomorrow. The inspector canceled and pushed it back to next week.
"It is quite disappointing. But I guess it's because the state has so much projects that they are dealing with," tenant Jeffery Chow Hoy said.
"There are 5,900 elevators in the state. When you add wheelchair lifts and other devices that number jumps to 6,900. They have to be inspected annually. But many are running with expired permits, and inspections are behind schedule.
Years of budget cuts reduced the state's elevator inspection team from 22 in 1995 to the present roster of six.
"I know on Oahu there's so many buildings with elevators," Gunderson said. "It's kind of worrisome to know that we're so short staffed of people inspecting our elevators. An elevator is something we use every day."
Senate Bill 2220 calls for doubling the number of elevator inspectors to a dozen. Money would come from a special fund.
"Our top priority remains ensuring the public's safety. We're hopeful that the legislature will pass the bill later this month," said Dwight Takamine, director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.
As for the Plumeria Hale, the delay means extra days residents climb the stairs while their new elevator sits. Inspection day can't come soon enough.
"I'll probably be counting them down," Riis said.
"It'll make my laundry easier, that's for sure," Chow Hoy said.