Waikiki councilman calls on city to suspend bulky item pilot in tourist district

Updated: Jul. 23, 2019 at 6:34 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Waikiki’s newly elected councilman says illegal dumping has spiked dramatically since the city changed the way it collects oversized opala.

Now, Tommy Waters wants the state’s top tourist destination to be exempt from requiring reservations for pickup.

Junk littering the sidewalks is nothing new in Waikiki. But lately residents say the problem’s become even more of an eyesore.

“I go walking around and there’s bulky items everywhere,” said Waikiki resident Cheryl Nadler.

If you live between Foster Village and Hawaii Kai, a reservation is required to get rid of oversized trash.

It’s part of a city pilot project started in June. But the concept hasn’t caught on in Waikiki.

The city says prior to its pilot it were picking up 108 tons of bulky items in Waikiki every month. Now that number has plummeted to just 19 tons a month.

Waters believes much of the difference is being dumped on the streets.

He said, “We’ve been getting numerous complaints. And I’ve driven through Waikiki and seen piles and piles of garbage that has not been picked up.”

Another problem: some residents reported having to wait more than a month for an appointment to get rid of their bulky trash.

The combination of issues prompted Waters to ask the city to go back to its old way of collecting oversized trash ― specifically in the tourist district.

It’s an idea the Department of Environmental Services quickly shot down.

“No, no. We need to be consistent because eventually it’s going to be island wide,” Lori Kahikina.

Instead, she says changes are being made to try and better serve the community.

Starting Wednesday, residents living in apartments will be able to schedule pick-ups themselves. Before everyone had to go through their resident manager.

“We’re going to Waikiki every Saturday with our three crews,” said Kahikina. “But as a resident you can make only one appointment a month. So if you make an appointment on the first Saturday of the month, you’re locked out until the next month. But your neighbor who’s in the same building can still make an appointment.”

Waters has asked for a monthly progress report to keep tabs on how the project evolves.

He said, “I’m very cautious about whether or not it’s going to be effective.”

Meantime the public is encouraged to donate items that are in good condition to second hand stores. Many offer quick pickup free of charge.

People with questions or complaints about the project are asked to call the city at 768-3200. There is also a survey on the project at opala.org.

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