Two different news stories point to more problems in Honolulu due to understaffing at the city. The understaffing seems to be undercutting the ability of the city to deliver essential services.
Trash pickup was the focus of Gordon Pang’s story on Saturday in the Star-Advertiser (“City crews are catching up on garbage collection backlog“).
Pang reported that regular trash pickups were missed throughout many parts of urban Honolulu, from Hawaii Kai to Aliamanu.
Green waste wasn’t picked up on its scheduled day here in our part of Kahala this week, and our regular Saturday pickup of the standard gray bins didn’t happen. Bulky items and green waste have had problems keeping on schedule recently.
Apparently this has been happening across Honolulu.
The delays in trash pickup were touched off by a shortage of refuse operators in the Solid Waste Division’s Honolulu yard, Owens said. Typically it takes 35 operators to run the Honolulu routes, but there currently are 25, he said.
As a result, an unknown number of collections were delayed by up to two days, he said.
And a similar issue has disrupted bulky-item pickup as well.
Again, Pang reported:
…bulky-item crews recently fell seven to 10 days behind schedule, Owens said.
An employee shortage is partly to blame, he said. There are no workers assigned specifically to bulky-waste pickup, but a crew is selected from the pool of manually operated truck operations that service about 20,000 households islandwide.
That pool is also contending with a shortage.
And last night KHON reported the city has been unable to keep grass mowed along public streets and in some public areas, an issue again blamed on staff shortages.
“The Dept. of Facility Maintenance is challenged with staffing right now,” said director Ross Sasamura. “We have roughly one third of our positions vacant. We don’t see any immediate resolution to that issue….
The city’s response? Artificial turf (“City says synthetic turf is solution to wild-growing grass problem“). It’s a solution that ignores the underlying problem of a lack of staff.
It’s time for a candid assessment by city officials. What will it take to actually get the city’s necessary jobs done?