Council committee to consider bulky trash fine
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer
A bill that would hit property owners with hefty fines for putting their bulky trash on the sidewalk too soon will be heard by the City Council's Public Infrastructure Committee at 1 p.m. today.
Inspectors would first issue a nonmonetary citation to a property owner if bulky trash is left in the yard earlier than the night before a scheduled pickup. If the trash isn't removed within seven days, a $500-a-day penalty would kick in.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann introduced the bill hoping to curb what's viewed as a growing problem. The Department of Environmental Services got at least 650 complaints about bulky trash sitting out last year.
The city has been picking up bulky items from O'ahu's residential curbsides once a month since July 2006. The law says trash can only be placed on the sidewalk the evening before a scheduled pickup.
The bill has been met with mixed reaction. The biggest concern is for property owners who would be hit with a fine for bulky trash left on their sidewalks by others.
Hannemann said property owners — of both single-family homes and condominiums — need to take responsibility for their properties.
Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, chairwoman of the Public Infrastructure Committee, said misplaced bulky trash is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.
But Kobayashi also says a daily fine of $500 is too steep, especially for those who weren't responsible for putting trash out in the first place.
Kobayashi said she feels bad especially for a senior citizen who may not be physically able to put away bulky rubbish placed on their sidewalk by lawbreakers, much less put it back on the sidewalk the night before pickup.
Gregory Quadra, who owns and manages two apartment buildings in Mō'ili'ili, applauds Hannemann for trying to address the issue.
But he also says $500 a day is too much.
Quadra said he also believes investigators should take care to fine only those responsible for leaving the bulky items on the sidewalk.
"I'm all for enforcement, but there needs to be a little investigation," he said.
Quadra said one way he's tried to cut down on the problem is by putting language into his tenant agreements stipulating that failure to follow bulky trash schedules could result in charges or the loss of a deposit.
Quadra said he also doesn't believe, as a landlord, he's responsible for making space available to people who need to move out of their apartments before the scheduled pickup date.
Those people can take their bulky items to the transfer station or landfill, he said.