Work will soon begin to clean up a trash-ridden, vermin-infested property in Kaimuki.
On Wednesday, the city’s Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) announced a local company was awarded the contract to remove and dispose debris and other material from 1115 2nd Avenue.
Pacific Junk Removal was among five companies that submitted bids, and came in lowest at $9,492.
Work is expected to begin on Tuesday, July 21, and will take about a week.
“I think it’s a great thing that they’re going to clear it because it’s unsightly, kind of disturbing when you walk by and see trash flowing out of another person’s house,” said neighbor Tyler Vaughan. “It’ll be good to see it cleared out.”
Neighbors have complained that the property is infested with rats and cockroaches, smells of urine and feces and attracts vagrants. The DPP and Honolulu Fire Department have found numerous violations of the building code and fire code on the property.
“We regret that we’ve had to take such drastic actions as filing for a court order to clean up the property,” said George Atta, DPP director, “but it became apparent that the owner no longer resides in the home and the unsanitary conditions there have become so severe that they pose a health and safety hazard to the neighbors.”
Pacific Junk Removal is authorized to clear the exterior of the home and to enter the structure to remove items that are deemed a fire or health hazard, the city said.
“My guys have a lot of experience doing these things, so we know how to handle the things that usually gross people out like the filth, the rats, the rodents,” Pacific Junk Removal manager Ray Peralta previously told KHON2. He noted that his team will likely don protective suits and masks before entering the house.
“We’re bagging everything so we’ll put everything in the bag, roaches and all,” he said.
But there is a word of caution to neighbors: rats and roaches will likely scatter. Pacific Junk Removal isn’t an exterminator, so expect them to spread.
“They will run away. That’s their nature,” said Peralta. “We will try and contain them as much as we can.”
“They’re going to be trying to find someplace to scurry into after it’s all cleaned up, so I’m worried that they’re going to find their way into our house,” said neighbor Tiana Debell.
“I’m a little concerned. We hopefully won’t have to worry about it too much, but that’s yet to be seen,” said Vaughan.
Neighbors are advised to set up rat and roach traps.
One exterminator tells KHON2 there are ways to prevent pests from going into homes, but residents need to do them before the cleanup begins.
Matt Fabry, general manager at Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control, says the whole property looks like a breeding ground for rats and roaches. The mango tree probably provides plenty of food for the rats, which love rotten fruit, and there’s plenty of moisture under the piles of trash for many of them to thrive.
“The neighbors want to make sure that they don’t have any food sources for the rodents near their home, any dog food, things that they keep on the exterior that they may eat,” Fabry said.
He says neighbors should also close off any holes or gaps that would allow the rats to enter. Check the screens and window sills, even the roof if possible.
He also recommends cutting back any trees or plants that are touching the house.
“They could (set up traps around the house). That would tell them if there are things running around. The downside to that is pets could get into them, other things could get into them,” Fabry added.
Some neighbors have suggested that the city fumigate the home first before any cleanup begins. In a statement, the city said fumigation was considered, but the primary concern is to clear the property and the contractor will exterminate rats and roaches with baits and traps.
Even with extermination, Fabry says that’s not going to solve the whole problem.
You can only tent the house so you can get rid of what’s inside, but there will still be the pests outside, he explained. “It will be helpful, yeah, but it still will not eliminate the problem.”
Residents can also hire exterminators to set professional traps and Fabry says that could cost $400 to $700.
After cleaning up the property, Peralta and his crew will board up the windows to prevent squatters from coming in and take the trash to H-Power in Kapolei.
Peralta says it should take them about four days with four truckloads a day to finish the job.
The city filed a court order against the homeowner, Laura Matsuzaki, after she racked up nearly $200,000 in fines, however no one has been able to locate her.