The awning at the Lai Fong Building, located at 1120 Nuuanu Street in Chinatown, Oahu, HI,  poses a threat to pedestrians and vehicular traffic. The awning was already in a state of disrepair due to rust.  Then, on or about September 3, 2010,  a delivery truck hit the awning, causing it to sag.  It now poses an even greater danger to the public.

We called the city’s Department of Planning and Permitting Director, Mr. David Tanoue.  He told us the city issued a Notice of Violation to the owner, and a Notice of Order is being formalized by his department.   We explained to Director Tanoue that the conditions pose an immediate hazard and threat to the safety of pedestrians and vehicular traffic.  Tanoue told us that the city is prohibited from going on to private property and taking actions to eliminate the threat.  He said they could only place barricades around the area and hope that this will prevent pedestrians from walking on the sidewalk.   However, we observed pedestrians, customers and business merchants walking in and out of the businesses located under the awning. 

Furthermore, the Octoberfest Street Festival on Nuuanu and Hotel Street is scheduled for September 24, 2010, from 6 pm to 10 pm.  It will potentially expose thousands of unsuspecting participants to the danger looming overhead.

 We believe the city administrators are derelict in their duties and obligations to protect the public from dangerous situations such as this.  Placing barricades around the site at taxpayer’s expense is not sound management. Steps should be taken immediately to work with the “private” landowner to grant the city permission to remove the threat if the landowner cannot afford the expense of removing the awning.  However, it appears to us that the awning is actually projecting onto the public right of way.

The landowner might agree to this or other arrangements.  If the city removes the awning and the owner defaults on reimbursing the city, the city can attach a lien against the property.  But, to leave the awning in place is just bad government. 

Firemen go on private property to extinguish fires.   Paramedics respond to emergencies on private property without concern or contractual agreement when situations are deemed emergencies that, if ignored, will contribute to loss of life or physical harm to the occupants or general public.  This situation, at the Lai Fong Building, 1120 Nuuanu Street, is no different.  It poses a threat to the merchants occupying the property, their customers, the pedestrians, and the vehicles that traverse the immediate area .

This situation needs to be addressed immediately by emergency action.  We are watching and will update you on any new developments.