Residents would have to pay for bulky item pick-ups under new proposal

Many neighborhoods across Oahu deal with the same problem — piles of junk sitting on the curb, sometimes for weeks.

Honolulu City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi has introduced Bill 41, which is aimed at solving the bulky item problem.

The plan involves doing something the city has never done before — residents would be charged a fee for bulky item pick-ups.  That’s a service that has always been free.

But in return, residents can expect more frequent and faster service.

Kobayashi says the city used to have bulky item pick-up by appointment, but that changed two administrations ago.

Now everyone gets their bulky items picked up on a schedule once a month.

“And that’s not working too well, so we’re going back to the appointment, however there will also be a charge so that we can pick up more often,” Kobayashi said.

She says people would have to pay by credit card when they make their appointment.

Currently, the city has a three-day grace period to pick up the bulky items.  Residents are supposed to put the items out on the curb only one day before their scheduled collection day.

Property owners caught breaking the rules could face a fine of up to $250 per offense.

KHON2 asked: “So do you think this will solve the problem of people leaving things out too early?”
Kobayashi replied: “Well let’s hope so because that is part of the problem, people leaving their things out too early. So this way you can be assured that when you call, the truck will be there.”

Kobayashi admits the bill isn’t perfect.

“The worry is when you set something outside of your house, and then people think oh well that neighbor is paying so let’s put our stuff there too.  So we’ll see how it works,” Kobayashi said.

As for how much people would have to pay for the service, Kobayashi says it would be up to the Director of the Department of Environmental Services to set the fees, but she emphasizes it would be a nominal fee.

KHON2 asked residents: “What are your thoughts on the bill.  Do you think it will work?”

“I don’t think so, for a lot of reasons.  A lot of the bulk that’s put out, it’s not always the people who live in that building, and you don’t know who puts it there so unfortunately as soon as one person puts one thing then it seems to grow exponentially within a couple of days.  Another thing too is they can’t come on time now so what makes me think if I call them they’ll come right away,” said Julie McFarland of Makiki.

“I honestly think it’s an outrage only because we pay a lot of taxes already and the cost of living is high, gas is high and to have that extra expense would be a burden on people,” said Marcia Davis of Makiki.

Kobayashi said the only way to know if it’ll work is to implement it, through a year-long pilot program.

“And after a year if this doesn’t work then we’ll go back to the old,” Kobayashi said.

The city currently spends about $8 million a year for bulky item collections.

Bill 41 is scheduled for first reading before the City Council on Wednesday.

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