Ewa resident Lila Rattner finally got some relief last night from the mosquito problem from her neighbor’s abandoned koi pond, but the solution offers no precedent for other Hawaii residents living next to foreclosed homes that pose a nuisance or hazard.
Rattner had complained for weeks to state and city officials and her Ewa by Gentry Community Association, pleading for someone to find a legal way to go into the abandoned home’s backyard, remove the fish, drain the pond and eliminate the source of the mosquitoes that had swarmed in her yard for two years.
Michael Vierra, owner of an Ewa company called The Koi Guy, said he went into the back yard Monday night and caught a white koi and three orange comet fish from the 20-by-10-foot pond, then returned last night to pump out the water.
Jim Dodson, executive director of the 7,000-home Ewa By Gentry Community Association, yesterday said no one in his organization has the authority to give access to someone else’s property, even those that are abandoned and in foreclosure.
But last month, Dodson made an exception and sent in a crew to remove debris from the home’s yard because Rattner said it had become a haven for rats and cats.
"This was a unique situation," Dodson said. "Mrs. Rattner is a cage-rattler. In our business, the squeaky wheel can get the grease. But we didn’t want to touch those koi. We didn’t want to assume responsibility for stealing them. … We were certainly mindful of the risks of going in there and trying to do something as good Samaritans. Risk assessment is a huge thing for me and my role as the executive director."
Dodson believes the fish were removed by a company contracted to maintain and clean the pond by the new owner, Wells Fargo, which foreclosed on the two-story home.
Vierra said he has no contract to maintain the koi pond behind Rattner’s house. He heard of the situation when a friend read about Rattner’s problem in the Star-Advertiser last week. The friend got in touch with Rattner and said she knows an expert in koi ponds, Vierra.
Vierra’s girlfriend, Betty L. Dunn, said they were let into the back yard Monday by Ewa By Gentry employees. "We were asked to do this by the Ewa Gentry maintenance crew," she said. Vierra said access was actually granted by an Ewa By Gentry subcontractor.
"Somebody else from some other company let us in," said Vierra, who has the koi at his home in Ewa.
And Rattner’s mosquito problems are history.
"I’m ecstatic," she said. "Thank God my nightmare is over."