CHINATOWN, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Residents and businesses in Chinatown say there are growing piles of garbage blocking sidewalks and creating health hazards.
They believe part of the problem is illegal dumping, but they also believe the city’s recent rule change for trash pickup in the area isn’t helping.
"We have piles of garbage getting bigger and bigger and people go through them so we have a lot of filth and unsavory conditions," said Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock, president of the Chinatown Business and Community Association. "Business is bad enough. We don't need more of this."
On June 1, the city began requiring its business customers to put their trash in bags — instead of boxes — in order to be picked up.
It seems not all merchants got the message and many worry it's attracting illegal dumping.
"The policy sounds good on paper, but it's not practical. We can't impose residential rules on a commercial mixed use area. Regardless of what it is, just pick it up. Garbage is garbage," said Shubert-Kwock.
The city says bagged garbage is easier to collect and prevents the trash from spreading.
Officials say notices about the rule change went out to all 94 of their Chinatown customers, and they say crews will be cracking down on those who aren't paying for city services.
"We have inspectors and we try and find out who it might be based on an address on the box or something like that," said Tim Houghton, deputy director of city's Department of Environmental Services. "We'll then go to that address and talk to them. It isn't a free for all process for refuse collection here in Chinatown."
The city is looking into other long term solutions for Chinatown's trash problem, which include enclosed and locked trash bins, as well as individual bins for each merchant.
"For most of these businesses, you should be able to use a regular gray bin that you put away during the day put it out at night," said Houghton.
Houghton says that proposal could be rolled out in six months to a year.
He says they plan to send another letter and visit their Chinatown customers to ensure everyone understands the new trash pickup rule.
He says the city will be also be providing some garbage bags to merchants, so they have a better idea of what they should be using for their trash.