(Star Advertiser) City looks to revise bulky item pilot project

(Source: Star Advertiser)

Condominium and apartment owner associations critical of the city’s new appointment-only pilot program for bulky item pickups have convinced officials to review the program.

The association owners took issue with the part of the program that makes the associations or property managers responsible for scheduling pickup appointments on behalf of condominium and apartment dwellers and for storing the bulky items on-site until the pickup date.

Jane Sugimura, president of the Hawaii Council of Associations of Apartment Owners, said she hopes the city doesn’t expect associations or resident managers to coordinate bulky trash pickup times for large-scale properties.

“Some buildings only have that one person to do the management responsibilities for a building,” Sugimura said. “You cannot have the site manager or resident manager, who is an employee of the association, be making the phone calls in a 300-, 600- or 1,000-unit association. That’s just not their job to coordinate this bulky item pickup.”

Requiring those employees to be responsible for transporting bulky items to the curb the night before would pose a liability issue for the associations, she said.

Sugimura said neither she nor her members have a problem with allowing unit owners or residents to phone the city and then be charged for the pickup.

In response, the Department of Environmental Services, which oversees the project, is attempting to set up a procedure to allow individual condo and apartment owners or renters to make appointments themselves, the department’s deputy director, Tim Houghton, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

“In thinking about it, it makes sense,” Houghton said. “We’ve got to see about some software to make some adjustments and such — that’s why we’re doing a pilot. As these things come up, we can make adjustments and make things better.”

He said he is meeting with staff to revamp the scheduling system to allow for individual unit owners and occupants to make an appointment for bulky item pickup. “Today they can’t make an appointment for an individual unit, but hopefully in a few days we’ll be able to make an adjustment to allow that,” he said.

When that happens, revised guidelines will be released to the public, Houghton said.

The 20-item limit per multifamily building will have to be adjusted when the change is made to allow owners and dwellers, rather than associations or managers, to make the call, Houghton said.

As for the storage issue, Houghton pointed out that an existing city ordinance already requires that a condo association or property manager store items until they are scheduled to be picked up, no different from what is being asked with the appointment-only system.

However, Lorenia Leyva, general manager of the Waikiki Marina Condominium Association, took exception to the requirement that condo associations be responsible for storing bulky pickup items until appointed pickup days. Her property, like other properties in Waikiki, currently has bulky item pickups once a week, and she said it would be a sudden and drastic change to be allowed only one by-appointment pickup a month.

“My building was built in the late ’70s,” she said. “I don’t have a place to store a month’s worth of bulky items on our property.”

She also felt the pilot project was being unrolled too quickly, without giving associations enough time to prepare.

“With condos there are house rules and information that’s needed to be given to residents, and less than four weeks is really not enough time,” she said.

City officials, however, are not delaying the June 3 start date of the pilot project and began accepting appointment requests Wednesday.

The pilot project affects the roughly 70,000 single and multifamily buildings from Hawaii Kai to Foster Village. The remaining residential buildings on Oahu will continue to have bulky item pickups at a scheduled time once a month.

If the pilot project is successful, the rest of the island would convert to the appointment-only system, Environmental Services Director Lori Kahikina said.

Oahu residents still would not need to pay for bulky pickup service, at least not yet. While the City Council Budget Committee rejected a fee for standard, weekly pickup that had been proposed by Mayor Kirk Caldwell, it still is considering what remains of Bill 13, which allows the city to charge for bulky item collection after the new fiscal year starts July 1.

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