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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Palolo residents tired of trash

By James Gonser
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer

Palolo Valley residents are so used to trucks coming in under cover of darkness to dump garbage on the streets that some refer to the area as the city's "unofficial landfill."

Over the years, Lai Road in Palolo Valley has become an "unofficial landfill" for much of O'ahu. Residents from other neighborhoods and some businesses often illegally leave bulky items and other rubbish in the area, creating headaches for residents.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

The practice has been going on for years, especially at the intersection of Lai Road and Palolo Avenue.

Resident Phyllis Castro said the rubbish is usually not from valley residents but from businesses trying to save money.

"Many times it is people from other neighborhoods," said Castro. "Companies, businesses, if they dump their trash at the landfill, have to pay, so they trash our neighborhood. Refrigerators, bed frames, etcetera."

Palolo Neighborhood Board member Erin Sonsona lives on Lai Road and sees the rubbish every day.

"Even cars are dumped there," said Sonsona. "We have found magazine labels from all the way from Pearl City."

"Why can't something be done?"

The city administration said budget cuts prohibit them from providing roving crews to look for problem rubbish areas, but they are aware of the situation in Palolo, and will soon be sending a crew regularly to keep the area at Lai Road and Palolo Avenue clean.

The City Council is working on a bill to increase penalties for dumping garbage and to hold private property owners responsible for trash on their property, but the bill is stalled in committee.

Castro said she is glad the city is working on the problem, but after years of complaints to the city, she wants results, not promises.

At a glance

• Meeting: The Palolo Neighborhood Board will discuss the illegal dumping of trash and a city council bill aimed at addressing the issue at 7 p.m. tomorrow in the Palolo Elementary School cafeteria, 2106 10th Ave.

• Call: To verify garbage pickup days or to report concerns about bulky items or trash, call the city's refuse yard at 523-4686 or Customer Service Department at 523-4381 (information) or 523-4834 (complaint).

The Palolo Neighborhood Board will take up the issue tomorrow night.

Sonsona said the city allows Lai Road residents to place bulk items at the site, but the sign designating the pickup location has become a loophole for illegal dumping.

A city council bill introduced by Councilman Jon Yoshimura aims to strengthen city laws against dumping rubbish by increasing fines from up to $500 to $2,000 and by making private property owners responsible for cleaning up their land.

The bill is deferred in the Public Works and Environment Committee.

"One of the arguments against this bill is it is not necessarily the property owners' fault," said Lana Yoshimura with Councilman Duke Bainum's office. "The neighborhood board has been beating their heads against the wall about the problem for years."

Lana Yoshimura said the board looked into creating a trash transfer station in the valley, but could not find an appropriate open space for it in the urban community.

Besides sending a truck to the Lai Road location, city environmental services deputy director Frank Doyle said the department also plans to offer suggestions to help strengthen the bill, possibly by funding enforcement officers or a private guard service to catch the dumpers.

City spokeswoman Carol Costa said police can give tickets to people dumping but they need community support. Residents need to report the time, license plate number and type of vehicle.

"That is the only way this kind of stuff can be stopped," Costa said. "Everybody knows there is a problem in this area. They are looking to the city to resolve it when it is a community problem."

Castro said much of the rubbish is household garbage left on the side of the roads and the three-member manual rubbish crews that go through the valley twice a week drive right by some piles of trash. She plans to ask the neighborhood board to file a formal complaint with the city.

"We'd like bulky pickup twice a month," Castro said. "Loose trash that is dumped on the street should be picked up by the manual pickup crew. Why do these guys drive right by it?"

Costa said she doesn't believe a crew would drive right by garbage on the street and there must be another explanation, such as it was put out late or could be green waste, which is picked up by another crew.

Reach James Gonser at jgonser@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2431.