Council's vote reflects citizens' concern about trash
The City Council has approved a bill to close the Waimanalo Gulch landfill in two years.
WHATEVER the mix of motives behind their decisions, members of the City Council are attempting to resolve Honolulu's long-standing problems with its trash
Though Mayor Hannemann views the Council's vote to close the city's sole landfill in two years through the lens of election-year politics, the action reflects the community's desires.
Rather than wield the threat of raising taxes, Hannemann's leadership skills and his ability to seek consensus would serve him better by piloting sound policies for waste disposal.
In setting a deadline of May 1, 2008, to shut down the Waimanalo Gulch operations, the Council hopes to push the administration to move faster on the garbage front. The Council also moved forward a tandem measure that would require curbside pickup of recyclable materials, which could divert more than 40 percent of Oahu's household wastes from the landfill.
The landfill measure would put on the books a promise made by Hannemann's predecessor to end operations at the Leeward site by 2008, a promise the current administration has said it would be hard pressed to fulfill.
Last month, a $2.8 million fine on the city and its waste management contractor for violations at Waimanalo Gulch fired up simmering opposition to the landfill's expansion that the administration was contemplating.
Hannemann inherited the landfill and associated budgetary problems when he succeeded Jeremy Harris, but he also inherited the curbside recycling plan, which could be part of a solution.
The mayor rejected curbside recycling because of possible legal challenges from a public workers union, but he should not have surrendered the program just on that possibility when his ties to labor could pave the way to resolution.
As to the cost, curbside recycling would not necessarily require additional trash service. Other cities have reduced twice-weekly pickups to just once a week through curbside recycling. In addition, the city could draw revenue from companies willing to pay for recyclable material.
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