City steps in to clean up home with tons of trash

City steps in to clean up home with tons of trash
Published: Mar. 17, 2017 at 5:54 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 17, 2017 at 9:35 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city is moving in tackle mountains of trash at a Makiki home, but neighbors say the situation should have been addressed years ago.

People who live near 1421 Pensacola St. say the property has been a health and safety threat for decades.

The city has fined the owner more than a $250,000 -- to no avail -- and has now gone to court.

"Who's responsible for this? Two hundred tons of trash just sitting next to where a bunch of people live," said neighbor Wade Reeves.

From the street, the home looks abandoned. The pile of trash is higher than 5 feet and the front door is blocked by debris.

Neighbors say the the owner gets into the house by climbing over a car, over a heap of trash and through a hole in the top of the door.

"Yeah, this one incident, he needed help. He was yelling and we were outside and basically we had to go in," said Justin Quilit, a property manager for a nearby home. "We couldn't get too far just rubbish from floor to ceiling. You can't really walk in there. It's not livable conditions.

There are at least three junked cars on Rollin Yee's property. There are also refrigerators, mattresses, and grills.

And there's the things you don't see, like roaches and rats -- and the smell.

"Especially whenever it rains, you can smell the odor, you kinda smell it now, it's kind of a thick smell," Reeves said.

The city says since it has investigated more than 20 complaints against the property. The first came in 16 years ago.

Since then, Yee has racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines -- more than what the house is worth.

But it just gets worse.

Reeves, who lives right next door, said sometimes Yee's stuff falls onto his property.

"Some of the neighbors and myself started taking out stuff ourselves," Reeves said. "But when you put it out for bulk trash, somebody brings it back and you see it a couple days later, same stuff you threw out, back into the pile."

The owner pays property taxes, but not the fines.

The city is moving in to clean up the home thanks to a relatively new tool, which was also used on a Kaimuki house two years ago: Court orders that allow the city to do the clean up and charge the owner. The city filed for that kind of order for the property last year, but the judge hasn't ruled on it.

Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, who wrote the law to force clean-ups, said it still takes too long.

"Maybe we have to somehow upgrade that bill and make it so that they can move faster," she said.

That's a difficult decision for the city since they don't want to force anyone out on the streets.

The city couldn't comment further on the legal action, citing pending litigation.

Mobile users: See a slideshow of the home here.

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