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StarBulletin.com

Refine bulky item fine


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POSTED: Saturday, November 28, 2009

The city performs a valuable service in picking up large refuse once a month—but too often residents put worn-out refrigerators, sofas and toilets along the curb days or weeks too early, creating an eyesore or even health problems. Mayor Mufi Hannemann is asking the City Council to fine homeowners as much as $500 for each full day prior to the eve of the pickup that the items sit on the curb, but a lesser fine would suffice.

The city picks up bulky objects once a month, with the specified day varying from one area to the other—the first Monday, the second Wednesday, the third Tuesday, etc. The system is a smart one, as long as homeowners are aware of their pickup days and comply with the requirement that the items be put at curbside after 6 p.m. prior to the next day's pickup.

Years ago, homeowners could call the city Refuse Department to pick up large items, and it would take about a month for the pickup to be made. Since then, the once-a-month pickup schedule has been in effect.

Homeowners cannot call the Refuse Department to learn the schedule, because that bureaucracy no longer exists; they now can call the Department of Environmental Services, if they are deft at understanding today's politically correct agency titles. The schedule is listed at http://www.opala.org, because, of course, all homeowners should know that “;opala”; is the Hawaiian word for garbage.

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Various methods are used across the country to pick up large items to haul to the dump. Seattle residents can call to have bulky items collected at curbside for $20, while San Francisco garbage collectors will perform the task free by appointment.

Tacoma, Wash., posts on its Web site a list of companies that will do the job. Charlotte, N.C., has a schedule for picking up bulky items and fines people $50 for each day too early that they put the items at curbside.

Under Hannemann's proposal, the city would warn the homeowners and condominium associations—not renters—who station their bulky items at curbside prematurely that they have seven days to remove them or face a fine at the rate of $500 a day. The city normally picks up the items within two or three days after the pickup is scheduled.

“;We think this will give us some teeth in the enforcement aspect,”; Hannemann said, but his proposal sports fangs where a less draconian measure would be adequate. Most homeowners would remove the curbside trash in a flash rather than pay the amount of a parking ticket, unless, of course, they have left on a trip. A graduated daily fine amount escalating with each day would be effective.

Enforcement of the large object pickup requirements are needed to combat unsightly offenses that some neighborhoods have likened to graffiti. Fines are appropriate after every effort has been made—perhaps via a new enhanced public awareness campaign—to inform homeowners of the pickup schedules and the consequences of ignoring them.