City cites Ala Moana Center’s owner for rusted railings after deadly fall

The City Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) issued a Notice of Violation to Ala Moana Center on Friday requiring them to fix any rusted or deteriorating railings. Ala Moana Center has 30 days to apply for a building permit or face a $100 fine, and $100 dollars a day until they do.

The DPP conducted the inspections on Monday and Tuesday following an incident on Sunday involving a railing that collapsed near the Hookipa Terrace, killing one man and critically injuring another.

DPP inspectors found evidence of rust where the collapsed railing was embedded in the concrete, as well as on other railings in the general vicinity. The NOV was issued to GGP Ala Moana LLC, an affiliate of General Growth Properties.

“The evidence indicates a safety issue with the railings and we issued a Notice of Violation, which requires the owner to apply for a building permit to repair or replace the damaged railings,” said Art Challacombe, acting DPP director. “Our top priority is the health and safety of the public.”

KHON2 asked lawmakers if they thought legislation should be introduced to change the way railings in public and private buildings are inspected.

City Council member Ann Kobayashi says it’s something the council could possibly look into, “Maybe but you’d think that the owner would want to check without there having to be a law. But maybe we have to put in rules that say how often do you have to check the railings. It’s hard to tell because in wet areas maybe you have to check more often because of the rust.”

City Council member Trevor Ozawa agreed it could be put on the agenda, but says the council needs to discuss it with the Department of Planning and Permitting, “We still need to get to the bottom of what happened and discuss with DPP as to what their thoughts are on whether or not the current regulations are sufficient. If landowners are following the rules today, and they are not resulting in safe conditions, then we need to really look at it and have that discussion.”

Francis Cofran, Ala Moana Center general manager, released the following statement in response:

The Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting issued a notice of violation today to Ala Moana Center. Ala Moana Center will comply with all requirements as indicated in the notice in a timely manner.

Again, the safety and welfare of our customers and employees is a matter that we take very seriously and always address as a priority. Desman Design Management, a structural engineering firm, has already begun an additional assessment of all railings on property. As previously stated, all necessary repairs will be made.

Our hearts go out to the families and all those affected by this tragic event.

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