HONOLULU (KHON2 ) — A bill looking to catch illegal dumpers passed out of the Honolulu City Council Wednesday.
“Right now with the law the way it is right now, even if someone would just send in video or photograph, I do not have the authority to enforce and neither does [the Honolulu Police Department],” said Lori Kahikina, City and County of Honolulu director of environmental services.
If passed into law, people would be able to send pictures or video to the City’s Department of Environment Services (ENV) and they would be able to fine that person.
If evidence shows a picture of a car and its license, then the ENV would be able to send the fine to the owner.
“Now as long as I have the license plate or let’s say it’s a business, and I have the name of the company on the side, ENV can enforce on that. I don’t need to prove that you were driving. You’re the owner, you’re responsible for your vehicle and we will enforce on you,” said Kahikina.
She said there needs to be substantial proof.
“So if a truck is full of debris as they’re going up the road, five minutes later the debris is gone, but its on the side of the road, it’s pretty obvious, ” said Kahikina. “We could probably enforce on that.”
If a vehicle was reported stolen, then a fine would not be sent to the owner.
Kahikina said they probably won’t immediately start fining.
“We’ll try to give a person the chance to rectify the situation. So we know it’s yours, come here and pick it up, and we won’t fine you. But if we have to escalate, then we have to start tacking on fines and penalties,” said Kahikina.
A person can either pay their fine or request a hearing to fight the citation within 14 days after getting it.
However, there is some concern that innocent people might get fined for something they didn’t do.
“I think this bill increases that potential because you have untrained observers making reports,” said Natanyah Ganz, a defense attorney.
Ganz said there can also be the potential for mistaken identity. She said courts have measures to make sure something like mistaken identity doesn’t happen, but that may not be the case for a citation.
“For something as small as a citation where someone just has a fine, I think that it will make it very hard for people to go in and fight this mistaken identification on their own behalf,” said Ganz.
Kahikina said that they expect that the mayor will pass this bill. As for when this program would start they say it would be some time this year after they set up guidelines such as how much the fine would be and what they would be fined for.
Right now she said they’re looking at between $250 and $500 per day. They’re also considering between citing per item dumped and citing per dumping incident.