Lingering Handi-Vans spark fuss
I am a disabled individual who uses Handi-Van almost every day. In the morning, the van drops off passengers at Ho'opono, 1901 Bachelot St. I believe many go to Lanakila Crafts. Every morning, there is a woman walking up and down the sidewalk in front of Ho'opono, telling the drivers in what I call an aggressive tone of voice to move the van. This is even as the passengers are being dropped off. The other day, my driver went to use the restroom, and this woman shouted to us, "Where is your driver?" When my driver returned, she confronted him and said that if he didn't move his van right away, she would call his supervisor. The same thing happens in the afternoons. Drivers have told me the woman works for Ho'opono, which is a state agency for the blind. Is she paid by the state to be a police officer? I realize this area is a no-parking zone. However, if the Handi-Van stops there, it is operating as a public transit vehicle. The drivers don't deserve to be harassed when they are just doing their job.
Answer: The woman to whom you refer is employed by Ho'opono, part of the state Department of Human Services' Vocational Rehabilitation and Services for the Blind Division.
Officials say she is doing her job in making sure the Handi-Vans do not park for too long, in response to neighborhood complaints; they also say they do not believe she is harassing the drivers.
However, following your complaint, Ho'opono officials decided to change their strategy in dealing with the parking problem, said Joe Cordova, administrator of Vocational Rehabilitation and Services for the Blind.
Drivers will not be confronted directly; instead, any infractions will be reported to the city's paratransit services office, he said.
"We're trying this new approach to see if it works," he said. "It is a complicated situation but we will keep on it."
Cordova explained that because of complaints from neighborhood residents several years ago, an area legislator contacted Ho'opono and asked it to find ways to "fix the problem" of Handi-Vans parking and blocking the street.
The area is a no-parking zone, but it does allow for loading and unloading.
Cordova pointed out that with Ho'opono and Lanakila located along Bachelot, "you have people with a whole range of disabilities using different types of transportation -- sometimes Handi-Vans, sometimes cabs, sometimes private vehicles." That can make for a lot of congestion.
"Usually, it is not a problem, but every now and then, you get a van that will just stay for a long time," Cordova said.
In an attempt to address the complaints, someone was assigned to monitor the drop-offs and pickups. Usually, the drivers "take it well," Cordova said, but "some of them don't take that kind of talk too well."
Still, Ho'opono's administrator does not believe the monitor is being abusive, although she might use "a firm voice," Cordova said.
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