To crack down on illegal dumpers, city wants your help

Update on Honolulu's bulky pickup pilot project

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city’s controversial bulky item pickup pilot is in its third month, and officials say they’re now planning to ramp up efforts to catch illegal dumpers.

But a big part of their plan involves you.

"Don't just watch it happen and then complain at the neighborhood board or to your favorite local media," said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. "Complain to the people who can do something about it."

Officials are encouraging residents to take video or photos of the offenders in the act and the license plate of their vehicles ― then report it to police or call the city’s Department of Environmental Services at (808) 768-3200.

"We didn't enforce in June or July because we're trying to roll this (pilot program) out and give people a chance to acclimate," said Lori Kahikina, director of the department. "But as of August, we are enforcing now."

Kahikina says there are more than 160 hot spots for illegal dumping within the program's test area from Foster Village to Hawaii Kai.

She says her department has the authority to issue penalties and fines, which can be as high as $2,500 a day. The nearest home or building to an illegal dumpsite can also be held responsible, even if it’s not their trash.

"When we have enforced, the adjoining property has pulled (the trash) back whether it's theirs or not," Kahikina said.

Under the pilot, which includes all of Urban Honolulu, residents need to make an appointment to get their bulky item trash picked up.

That’s let to more illegal dumping in some spots.

Over in Makiki, neighbors say a pile of bulky trash has been growing along Thurston Avenue for the last month, blocking the sidewalk and creating a public health hazard.

"There's also bed bugs on the mattress, so we always have to go out into the street and put ourselves in danger to even get to our home," said resident Ebony Hill.

When asked about self-policing their neighborhoods, neighbors say recording and reporting illegal dumpers would be challenging.

"That's super difficult because if you look at this area there isn't really lights or anything. And with all the cars on the side of the street, you can't see," Hill said.

"How do we know it's illegal," asked Waikiki resident Brian Nolan. "The old way wasn't working either because it was too much of a drain on resources, but if we're going to call the cops every time we see someone dumping anything, that's just as much a drain on public safety."

Nolan says the program has been working better in Waikiki, but says there are still issues that need to be addressed.

On August 5, the city began to allow individual residents in multi-unit condos to schedule their own bulky item pickup appointments, limited to five items a month.

Originally, each building was allowed only 20 items a month.

Caldwell says more residents are using the program.

From June to July, he says there was a 24% increase in appointments for non-appliances and a 21% increase in appointments for appliances.

He says there was also a 37% increase in the tonnage the city has collected through the pilot.

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