Residents of a badly damaged road in Kahaluu say the city is not owning up to its responsibility, even though the road is privately owned.
They showed us a letter sent by the city in 1994 saying the roadway qualifies for maintenance under the city’s street maintenance policy.
The road has partially collapsed and residents want the city to fix it, but the city still says that residents are on their own.
The big question is, does maintaining the road include fixing it?
KHON2 spoke with a real estate attorney who says there’s a fine line and if this winds up in court, a judge could go either way.
About a third of the width of Mapele Road has collapsed into a ditch. City crews placed safety barriers around it, but residents want it fixed and they want it done sooner than later.
“My mom’s Handi-Van can’t get to our house and then I’m just worried about my kids’ school buses,” said resident Dana Christiansen. “I have two special needs children, so two different buses come in the morning and the afternoon and just waiting to see what’s gonna happen.”
Residents are also worried about another crack in the road. They point out it’s the same type of crack that forced the road to buckle.
They say the city should take the responsibility because it wouldn’t have gotten this bad if it was maintained properly.
“That letter from the city, it clearly states that they have a responsibility for maintenance. So are they considering maintenance sweeping the road, or paving it, or, if it caves in, do we fix it?” said resident Nick Lohr.
But the city says residents need to do the repairs on their own. In a statement, Ross Sasamura, Department of Facility Maintenance director, said: “While the city has done surface maintenance and repairs in the past, the ordinance does not allow for repairs and improvements below the paved surface.”
He added that repairs “… will need to be completed by the roadway owner(s) and will likely require clearance and/or permitting.”
Real estate attorney Bernie Bays says Mapele Road residents have a case, but so does the city.
“I would expect the city to contend that they maintain the surface of the roadway and that was all they had agreed to do, and they had not agreed to protect against the undermining of the roadway by the stream,” Bays said.
He says these cases are all too common and it would be best for both sides to come up with a compromise.
“The city might even be willing to pitch in to contribute some of the money on the grounds that would have been part of their resurfacing obligation,” Bays said.
There are dozens of people who own the road, and not all of them are residents.