Recent rains lead to ‘growing’ problem along Ala Wai Boulevard

Local News

Weeks of wet weather have created a growing problem in Waikiki.

Grass is growing up to three feet in some areas along Ala Wai Boulevard.

Andrew Elliot walks his dog Harley there daily. The grass is high enough to nearly hide Harley from view.

“We walk her twice, maybe three times a day, and it’s never been this bad,” Elliot said. “This has been the highest I’ve ever seen it and it’s becoming kind of an eyesore.”

Elliot says it’s been like this for several weeks. He asked us to find out when the grass would be cut.

KHON2 checked with the city and was told it’s going to be another month.

“Along the Ala Wai, we completed grass-cutting at the end of August,” said Department of Facility Maintenance director Ross Sasamura. “We’re not due to go back there for another month, so the grass will get taller. We do apologize for that but we will do what we can to make it back as fast as possible to address this as well.”

Elliot says this has a negative impact on the community.

“It’s just a negative outlook overall,” he said. “Not taking care of the landscaping here, it’s a very green environment. I think it’s very disappointing to know that the city is not going to take care of this for some time, because it’s just ugly and so many people, not just residents that live here, walk up and down the canal. It’s just a little fixture here in Waikiki.”

The city says it used to hire private contractors to handle the work, but it’s now done by city employees. The Division of Road Maintenance is responsible for maintaining areas like Ala Wai Boulevard.

KHON2 learned that right now, there are only 14 workers to take care of cutting three million square feet of land. By the end of the year, that number should go up to 20.

It’s still a far cry from the more than 40 workers needed to be considered fully staffed, something that requires more funding.

Honolulu City Councilman Trevor Ozawa says he’s willing to help. “They are short-staffed, so I want to work with the Department of Facility Maintenance to fill the open but funded positions,” he said.

The city says it will prioritize certain areas where overgrowth affects traffic safety, saying that it understands residents’ frustration.

But with such a small crew, the resources have to go to keeping drivers safe first.

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