Abandoned vehicles law gets polished by Bill 2486

LIHUE — On an island with more vehicles than people, cars are junked on a daily basis — sometimes properly, many times improperly.

Last week, the Kauai County Council gave final approval on Bill 2486 that polishes the county law dealing with abandoned vehicles and provides the Kauai Police Department with a better, faster tool to deal with violations.

 KPD Chief Ale Quibilan said Wednesday the changes in the law will require vehicles posted as abandoned to be moved out of the area and will give KPD the authority to tow vehicles that are moved just a short distance.

“Most of these vehicles, particularly in our parks, are being used as storage containers or shelters — packed with personal items and surrounded by overgrown grass and other debris,” he said.

These vehicles, Quibilan said, are creating both an eye sore and a hazard to park users and has frustrated both county personnel and Kauai’s citizens who continue to report the same vehicles.

Cathy Agoot, county Abandoned Vehicle Coordinator, said an average of 25 abandoned or derelict vehicles are towed by authorities each month. The county, she said, receives an average of 73 complaints of abandoned cars each month.

According to county estimates, there were 89,179 registered vehicles on Kauai as of December 2012, while the U.S. Census Bureau estimates there were 68,434 residents last year. But that’s counting keiki and kupuna — only 42,294 of Kauai residents are between the ages of 18 and 65.

Quibilan said KPD initially posts cars as abandoned but will cite the vehicle and notify the county’s Solid Waste Division to remove it if the vehicle is still there after 24 hours.

The only exception happens when a vehicle is tagged by KPD on a weekend, since Solid Waste can only take actions on the first business day of the week.

Quibilan said Solid Waste currently handles the contract to tow away abandoned vehicles.

The amended law includes KPD in the mix.

“The police chief and his designees may remove or cause to be removed any abandoned vehicle from a park or recreation facility and dispose of it,” the approved bill states.

The intent of Bill 2486 is to address a loophole that has allowed violators to circumvent the county law’s intent, county spokeswoman Sarah Blane said.

Blane said violators have abused the 24-grace period and the language of the law by moving a vehicle a few feet or several inches away to avoid tows.

Agoot said proper disposal of vehicles should be done at Puhi Metals Recycling Center, which is operated by Resource Recovery Solutions.

There is no cost for disposal of a vehicle for residents.

Info: The Abandoned Vehicle program at 241-4836 or Puhi Metals at 245-6919.

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