Hoarder owes $11,000 in litter fines

Hoarder owes $11,000 in litter fines

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The outside of the three-story walkup on Pele Street is cluttered with castoffs: bottles, cans, old electronics, and other stuff people throw away.

To David Fong they're collectibles.

"On the way back from the recycling place I may pick up something and bring it home," he said.

Fong said he recycles out of necessity, with no other way of making a living but dumpster diving.

"I don't have very many resources," he said. "I have a wife and a son to take care of. That's all I'm trying to do."

But neighbors fear his building is a fire and health hazard, and an accident waiting to happen.

"People, even children. Sometimes they play around. They run around over here. Seems to me it's not safe," Simi Fanene said.

Fong, his younger brother and brother-in-law occupy four of the six units. The other two apartments are rented.

"The major concern is for the people who live there," Honolulu Fire Capt. Terry Seelig said.

He said the fire department has tried to work with Fong since 2009, pointing out problems and suggesting solutions. He has been warned numerous times about violations, including storing combustibles too close to heat sources.

"There's blockage of the stairways, the aisle and the stairs. There's non-inspection of the fire protection equipment, extinguishers, hose cabinet and standpipe," Seelig said.

Fong's case is now in the hands of the city prosecutor. He owes the city $11,550 for litter on his property. Every day that he doesn't clean up adds another $50.

"Between devoting the time to recycling and sorting everything to make money so that I can put food on the table, that doesn't leave me very much time," he said.

But the city said the situation is so far gone, the next step could be a lien on Fong's property.

"My mantra is always, 'As soon as things turn around for me, that's the first thing I'm going to tackle. I'm going to fix this place up. I'm going to clean this stuff up and it's going to be gone," he said.

Fong admits to being a hoarder, but he also thinks he's helping the neighborhood by taking away other people's trash and making it his treasure.

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