Hoarder house no more: City hires contractor to clean Makiki eyesore

MAKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Pensacola Street property that's been an eyesore for decades is finally going to be cleaned up, city officials announced on Wednesday.

The city Department of Planning and Permitting has selected Oahu Junk Removal as the contractor tasked with removing over 20 years worth of garbage, debris and general filth from a residence at 1421 Pensacola St.

Neighbors near the Makiki residence have complained to city officials for years about the house turned dump-site, replete with abandoned cars, animal cages and refrigerators — among other unappealing items.

The dirty work is set to begin on July 23.

Why it's a big deal

The city has tried — and failed — on several occasions to get the home's owner, Rollin Yee, to clean up the property after residents complained of the growing neighborhood blight.

At last check, Yee has been dealt more than $360,000 in fines from the city for failing to maintain the property. Instead, the over 5-foot tall garbage pile has only grown.

Neighbors say Yee gets into the house by climbing over a car, over a heap of trash and through a hole in the top of the door. In one instance, the owner needed help getting to the front door.

Along with home's sole human occupant, neighbors say hordes of rats, roaches and feral cats reside within the Makiki home.

In March of last year, city officials said they've investigated more than 20 complaints against the property over a 16-year period.

At one point, exasperated neighbors teamed up to try and put a dent in the garbage pile by cleaning up some of it themselves.

"Some of the neighbors and myself started taking out stuff ourselves," Wade Reeves, a Makiki resident, told Hawaii News Now last year. "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 city was able to take over the project thanks to a relatively new tool, via court orders that allow the city to do the clean up and charge the owner.

A difficult history

For the longest time, city officials were unable to get a hold of Yee, saying that he wouldn't respond when officials visited the home to serve him for fines.

The city even went so far as to put a legal notice in the newspaper in an attempt to contact Yee.

Shortly after Hawaii News Now first broke the tale of the totaled home, Yee's brother Alvin made an impassioned plea for city officials to reconsider evicting his brother and clearing the property.

"We didn't have much when we were growing up. So whatever we did acquire, we tend to hang on to," Alvin said, back in August of last year. "He's a hoarder. Just like me. But I don't think he's a danger."

Alvin also said that his brother's hoarding may stem from the loss of their older brother and parents, which could have had lasting psychological and emotional effects.

"He needs help. I offered to help him. Some of my friends have offered to help as well. I'm not sure if it's a matter of pride or what, but he's not accepting my help," he said.

Psychologist Robert Woliver said hoarding is considered an anxiety disorder.

"Often, people who hoard have OCD tendencies, obsessive compulsive tendencies. Or they might have extreme trauma they've been through," Woliver said.

Moving forward

On July 5, a Circuit Court judge authorized the Department of Planning and Permitting's request to enter the Pensacola Street property and remove trash, vehicles and overgrowth, as well as the exterminate any vermin on the property.

After cleanup is complete, the city plans to pay Oahu Junk Removers $13,120 and Yee will be charged with reimbursing the city, in addition to paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

The court order only allows for the cleanup of the exterior of the home, and gives the city 20 business days from the granting of the order to complete the work. The work can only be done between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Oahu Junk Removal plans on getting the job done within a week.

"The department expresses its appreciation to the neighbors who have waited patiently for this cleanup," said Kathy Sokugawa, acting director of the Department of Planning and Permitting, in a statement.

"We thank city attorneys who carefully acknowledged the rights of the property owner and due process, and were able to arrive at this juncture working diligently with the court system."

Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.