Amendments’ strong approval should prompt quick action
Charter amendments requiring curbside recycling and a safer city for pedestrians and bicyclists have been adopted.
VOTERS put two new assignments on the desks of city officials that are meant to make Honolulu more congenial and safer for people on foot and bicycles, and to launch curbside recycling to lessen the amount of waste piled into Oahu's sole landfill. (Star-Bulletin, Nov. 10
In approving amendments to the City Charter by overwhelming margins, voters declared that these are their goals for Honolulu. Though officials did not like the process by which the declarations came, they should not ignore them or drag their feet in achieving the objectives.
More than 72 percent of voters in last Tuesday's election said "yes" to placing a priority on developing better conditions in the city for pedestrians and bicycles. On curbside recycling, nearly 75 percent said they wanted the service that would divert tons of reusable waste from the landfill.
The pedestrian-bicycle amendment folds neatly into Mayor Mufi Hannemann's view of a rail transit system that would integrate a number of other forms of transportation for maximum ridership.
In a meeting with the Star-Bulletin's editorial board, the mayor affirmed that rail cars would accommodate bikes so cyclists could get to and from stations easily. He also said the rail line would be designed to spur foot traffic.
With completion of the first segment of a rail at least six years away, the city should begin laying the groundwork to coordinate pedestrian and bicycle paths as soon as possible so that when a train is up and running, they will smoothly feed riders to stations.
The city already has experimented with curbside recycling, an initiative aggressively championed by Hannemann's predecessor. Hannemann canceled the plans last year, citing cost as the primary reason.
However, with a mandate from voters, the administration -- and the irresolute City Council -- should do their best to get curbside recycling going. Costs can be tackled with a little bit of creativity and by working with recycling companies. Other cities have found that recycling reduces the need for regular trash collections. Honolulu might be able to alternate the twice-weekly pick-ups to include one for recyclables.
The mayor and some Council members were displeased that these charter amendments were put on the ballot, saying decisions on programs should have been left to elected officials. Be that as it may, the amendments were vetted by a panel of their appointees -- and voters, to whom elected officials answer, approved them.
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