Tuesday, June 03, 2008


City's neglect goes on and on, resulting in expensive lawsuits

by Larry Geller

I have some pictures for you. But first, Advertiser 20080603this is the lead story in today's Advertiser. Who knows if the City should appeal this or not? If you read the story, they had options to settle this case for less, earlier. Maybe the judgment will be reduced on appeal, maybe more of our tax money will simply go down the hole.

The city should have known that "failing to replace the missing and broken tile pieces in the sidewalk causing the surface to be uneven or by failing to place a barrier over the hole" was dangerous, according to the suit.

This sort of thing can happen in any city, I'm sure. It's unfortunate that someone can be severely injured in such a fall. It would be better if the street had been fixed.

But this is Honolulu, Hawaii. Here, neglect has been raised to a high art.

It's not just the famous potholes in our roadways that aren't fixed. Sidewalks are badly in need of repairs also.

Will we ever catch up to the neglect that causes all the potholes? It's not just dams that the state didn't inspect. It's not just the sewer system that hasn't been maintained. When the culture is "let it rot," then these things will happen. When people are killed or injured, it's not accurate to call the incidents "accidents." Our state and our city fail to pay for inspections and repairs. That has predictable consequences. (Ok, you're waiting for me to suggest that they have no business building a train. There, I've suggested it.)

Just coincidentally I had started snapping pictures with my handy cellphone camera. It's a thing bloggers do. I was fed up with the condition of sidewalks that I have to use and thought I would write about it. Today is as good a day as any.

Also, my friend George has to use a scooter these days to get around. They seem to have a rather firm suspension, and he mentioned to me the spine-smashing thuds he has to experience just to move along on what should be a straight run of smooth sidewalk. So this article is also for George.

Let's just look at a few snaps.  Oh... these things have been here for at least the three years I've been walking these streets. Every one of them. Calling them in to the city has not resulted in a single repair that I am aware of. Maybe someone has to trip and hurt themselves badly or something. What's left but cynicism?

Street1 This is on Vineyard Blvd. Like many other bad cracks, it's painted yellow. I don't know who painted it or why.  These photos don't do the split in height justice. And there are probably better examples than these if one looks.
Street3 This bunch of cracks includes a wavy, buckled-up section of concrete and a metal cover that is raised up and sharp. If you were running and your toe hit that, it would hurt something fierce.

Remember, please, that I snapped these during the daytime. At night it's hard to see the cracks, the buckled-up patch, or the sharp edges of the steel covers.

Street4 Speaking of neglect, here's a snap of a sidewalk literally left to decay. It's been neglected so long that it is literally disappearing.

Street5Going, going, soon to be gone, demonstrating how well our streets are cared for by this city. This is one block from Beretania St., it's not out in the country somewhere.
Pothole1 These next two are the same pothole, on Pali Hwy. It's the size of a real pot and is filled with dried leaves, sometimes with water when it rains. Your foot could fall into it and twist your ankle. A Razor-type scooter might take a spill. Or imagine rollerblading or skateboarding over that thing. It might even trap and eat one of George's scooter wheels.
Pothole2Same pothole.
Pothole Update: The two pics of the pothole weren't very clear. I went out again and scooped out some of the leaves for this photo. You can see that this sidewalk pothole goes halfway to China.

No CutoutThis isn't a pothole, but let me throw it in anyway.

All curbs were supposed to have cutouts by now (there was another lawsuit against the city, naturally). But not so.

The street the white truck is turning left onto is busy Vineyard Blvd. Imagine that you're on a scooter moving towards Vineyard from where I'm standing taking the picture. You have to do it by riding in the street, at least a few inches away from the curb because of the accumulated garbage. Then you can go up the curb cutout just past the yellow fire hydrant, at the corner. Of course, since cars turning right don't bother to stop, you might be flattened before you got there. A car would not expect to be facing a scooter moving toward it the wrong way in its lane.

The lack of a curb cutout here is an obvious hazard. Should someone be killed or injured one day, it would not be accurate to call it an "accident" since it's entirely predictable that something bad will happen here.

Instead of contesting suits and then paying money to victims of Honolulu's neglect, how about spending that money for street repairs?? How about it, Mufi?

It's useless calling the city transportation department about the condition of the sidewalks. Pedestrians seem to have no clout with them. If you are inclined to call, may I suggest calling Mufi himself (don't worry, he doesn't answer his own phone). It's not on his website, but the number is 523-4141. Ask what it takes to get the broken sidewalk near you fixed. Ask why tax money is being spent on lawsuits instead of maintaining the streets and avoiding that expense.

I'll bet the missing tiles the lady tripped over got fixed. But a bill of $3.6 million to make it happen is a bit too high.


We're close to becoming a third-world country here. Upkeep is for wimps!
Just ask Jeremy Harris. If anyone can find him.

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