Soliciting donations from motorists is legal
What permits are issued by the city that allow pedestrians to go right into moving traffic to solicit funds for charity? I am referring to the recent Hawaii Foodbank annual community collection campaign, which disrupts the safe flow of traffic and puts pedestrians in harm's way. On that Saturday morning, I stopped along Kilauea Avenue for a Foodbank pedestrian and was rear-ended by a driver who was distracted by the balloons, sign-waving, people rapidly approaching cars with fishnets, and the tossing of canned goods in the air and all around! The on-site Foodbank coordinator informed me that she had a permit from the city. I saw three other auto accidents that day caused by the chaos and commotion created by the activity. While I support the Hawaii Foodbank efforts, I think their collection strategy went too far if it causes injury and property damage. How can this collection drive be condoned as a legal activity, especially given the recent pedestrian fatalities?
Answer: The city Department of Transportation Services does issue "street usage permits" allowing groups to use the sidewalk area to solicit donations, said transportation official Ty Fukumitsu.
But the permit does not give anyone permission to go into traffic lanes or medians, he said. "If they ask to do it on the street, we would not give them a permit. We would deny them."
For the department, the concern is that the group does not block the sidewalk.
"Technically, if they don't block the sidewalk and they obey all traffic rules, they do not need a permit from us," Fukumitsu said. "But many (groups) get a permit to cover themselves."
He did acknowledge that if participants "are in the street, that might be a safety issue." But that would be a matter left for police to handle, he said.
We've addressed this issue before, in response to complaints about children being put at risk by going into the street to collect donations for youth activities (Kokua Line, Dec. 1, 2003).
At that time, the Honolulu Police Department said there is nothing illegal about people going into the street to solicit donations. However, if someone believes solicitors are posing a danger to either themselves or motorists, the advice is to call police at 911.
We double-checked with HPD recently and were told that the statement still stands.
Meanwhile, although you cited three other accidents, Hawaii Foodbank officials said no other accidents were reported to them that day.
We read a copy of the site coordinator's report of one accident -- believed to be yours -- which said the organization had the proper permits and insurance "and we were operating in an appropriate manner," according to Polly Kauahi, the Foodbank's director of development.
The report also said the officer who investigated the accident informed Foodbank representatives that "no report would be filed against the Foodbank as the incident was purely between the two ladies involved."
We were not able to get a copy of the officer's report from HPD.
Asked about what safety measures the Foodbank takes during its food drives, Kauahi said, "Safety is the top priority for all 3,000 volunteers on food drive day."
Volunteer confirmation cards, as well as on-site orientation for volunteers, stress safety, she said.
There also are age restrictions on volunteers, and off-duty police officers are hired. Additionally, the Foodbank tries to recruit Oahu Civil Defense workers for each site, Kauahi said.
Bulky Item Follow-up
Two people called to rebut a statement that bulky item pickup is never three weeks late (Kokua Line, May 22
An unidentified caller said bulky items had been left uncollected for a month in her unnamed neighborhood, while "Bill of Kalihi" said it had been three weeks since bulky items along Holua Street were scheduled to be picked up and they still sat "piled up all up and down our street."
"Bulky item pickup had been a problem in our area for years, but the last couple of years, they had gotten into a real good routine, so this is surprising," he said. "The last couple of months, there seemed to be a slowdown, where they just missed pickup by a couple of days. But this time, there's no sign of any movement, even though we have called."
The explanation is that even if bulky item pickup goes according to schedule, crews may miss some areas.
"By the time we are informed, three weeks have gone by," said David Shiraishi, the city's refuse collection administrator. "Understandably, the caller believes that we were three weeks behind schedule."
Residents should call or e-mail the city if their bulky items are not picked up as scheduled, he said.
Shiraishi also reminded residents to place their bulky items at the curb by 6 a.m. on the first scheduled collection day.
"Although our trucks pass through the neighborhoods over a three- to four-day period, if the items aren't at the curb on the first day, they could miss the pickup," he said.
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