Honolulu officials tweak bulky pickup pilot to allow more frequent Waikiki appointments
The city recently tweaked the pilot project to allow Waikiki residents to schedule weekly appointments instead of being limited to once-a-month appointments.
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The city is making changes to its bulky pickup pilot program in Waikiki, where trash had been piling up in some neighborhoods since the city implemented temporary rules.
Timothy Houghton, deputy director of the city’s Department of Environmental Services, said the department recently tweaked the program to allow Waikiki residents to schedule weekly appointments instead of being limited to once-a-month appointments.
“Waikiki is, and always has been, the only area on Oahu receiving weekly bulky collection. The rest of the pilot areas are allowed only one appointment per month over a multiday period,” Houghton told the Waikiki Neighborhood Board last week.
As part of the pilot, which began in June and is slated to run through the end of January, the city had shifted single-family and multifamily residents from Foster Village to Hawaii Kai, including Waikiki, from monthly scheduled bulky item collection to an appointment-based program.
Almost immediately complaints about the new rules, which applied to about 70,000 single-family homes and multiunit residential buildings, began piling up — especially from communities grappling with illegal dumping.
Waikiki, which even had mountains of sidewalk trash while hosting the U.S. Conference of Mayors in June, was one of the hardest hit communities.
“It was deplorable,” said Waikiki resident Dave Moskowitz. “But lately, I think it’s been looking a little better. I’m pleased that the streets and sidewalk are more clear.”
Moskowitz said the improvements could be the result of this latest tweak and an earlier one, which in August allowed tenants in multiunit buildings to start making their own appointments instead of going through property owners, resident managers and association of apartment owners.
Since the pilot, Houghton said Waikiki is averaging about 11 to 15 tons a month for those who make appointments. Illegal dumping hot spots in Waikiki and other parts of the pilot area also have dropped to 70 from 162, a decrease of about 131%.
Houghton said other signs of the pilot’s effectiveness is that phone calls to the department have dropped 8% from July to August, while the number of appointments has increased by 32% since the beginning of the program.
Additionally, during the pilot, Houghton said there have not been any industrial injuries, vehicle accidents or mechanical breakdowns, which had caused collection delays and overtime in the past.
Waikiki Neighborhood Board member Jeff Merz said he’s heard complaints, but is willing to give the city the benefit of the doubt especially given that the recent Waikiki tweak showed some responsiveness.
But board member Kathryn Henski said she’s not satisfied that the pilot allows enough trash to be removed in a timely manner.
“I don’t believe that the system is working. I think it’s a failed program that hopefully will be discontinued in January,” Henski said. “With the pilot, they are bringing more garbage trucks into our already dense neighborhood, but we’ve got more trash sitting around. People who are engaging in illegal dumping are the least likely to change their habits or make an appointment.”
Henski said it’s imperative to promptly address Waikiki’s bulky trash pile up, which is a tourist eyesore.
Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock, president of the Chinatown Business and Community Association, said the city also should consider tweaking the pilot program in the Chinatown special district, where mountains of trash continue to pile up.
“It’s not fair that they are treating Waikiki differently. We also have a lot of tourists that come to Chinatown and we want them and the residents that live here to be safe, too. Illegal dumping has created health hazards, obstacles to pedestrian access and hurt businesses,” said Shubert-Kwock, who also lives in Chinatown and is a member of the district’s neighborhood board.