CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kahuku Village resident Sherry Martinez stands by one of the two trash bins that is used by residents from Kahuku Village. The city has stopped house-to-house trash collection there after workers complained about dust being kicked up by garbage trucks. CLICK FOR LARGE
Kahuku in dust-up over trash service
In May, the city stopped providing curbside service over dusty conditions in Kahuku Village
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Kahuku residents who live on dirt roads have not had city house-by-house trash pickup since May.
That was when the city said dust kicked up by garbage trucks was endangering garbage workers' health, and stopped providing curbside service.
Jim Leonardi, vice president of the Kahuku Village Association, is worried about elderly residents who now have to tote their garbage to new bins 50 yards or more from their plantation homes.
Other residents say blowing trash is now a problem and wonder why the garbage trucks cannot just drive more slowly.
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Kahuku Village resident Torie Matsuda used to take out the garbage herself for twice-weekly pickup by city trucks.
But since May the 92-year-old has been giving her yard worker "a little extra pocket change" to take out the trash, "because I cannot bring the rubbish up to where they have it now."
"They said too much dust for them, the boys who pick up the rubbish," Matsuda said yesterday from her home of 70 years.
Instead of picking up garbage at each household in the former plantation village, the city is picking up individual rubbish cans only from houses on paved streets.
That means about residents of half of Kahuku Village's 135 homes have to carry rubbish to bins that can be 50 to 100 yards from their homes, said Jim Leonardi, vice president of the Kahuku Village Association.
The city stopped service on unpaved roads in mid-May, after city officials learned that the United Public Workers union planned to file a complaint about the dusty conditions, City Environmental Services Director Eric Takamura confirmed yesterday.
There is no other city trash pickup on an unpaved road on Oahu, Takamura said.
"For three or four years we have been trying to get the villagers to do something about the dust," Takamura said. "I was driving there at 15 mph (in a passenger vehicle) and raised a cloud."
Village resident Sherry Martinez disagrees. "If they would just slow down and do 5 mph, there'd be no dust kick-up," Martinez said of the garbage trucks. "But they choose to speed and dust kicks up."
Martinez and Leonardi say when city crews used to spray the dirt roads with oil, it would help control the dust.
That practice is no longer acceptable under stricter clean-water rules, Takamura said.
"They said when it rains, the oil goes into drains and into the ocean," Leonardi said. "But we don't have drains."
The Kahuku Village Association has tried to find a way to keep dust down, Leonardi said. "But if we were to pave all the roads in Kahuku, it would be in the millions of dollars ... and the village is only run on rent paid by people -- low rent."
Since the city cut trash pickup to houses on dirt roads, the association has paid $4,000 for two trash bins to serve its Walkerville, Main Camp, Ocean View and New Camp areas but needs two more to handle the volume, Leonardi said. Only houses fronting the paved Kamehameha Highway are getting household trash collection, he said.
While the village waits for more trash bins, there is more rubbish blowing around, said Martinez. Residents who have to leave early for work pile bags of trash around the communal bins, and dogs rip into them, she said.
The bins are locked until the day before trash pickup to discourage outsiders from using them, Leonardi said.
"In Walkerville (one of four affected areas of the village) we've got two residents in wheelchairs, two in their 90s, a couple that are in their 80s," Leonardi said.
Takamura said he is looking into ways to help elderly residents, but did not have any specifics. The city also has asked private trash companies if they would donate bins to the village, he said.
In addition to pulling curbside trash service, the city has reneged on its promise for regular pickup of bulky items, such as furniture and appliances, Leonardi said. After two years of bulk pickup on a regular basis, Kahuku Village residents again have to call for service.