New law requiring quick removal of derelict vehicles may be hard on county

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    An abandoned vehicle sits at the corner of Huluili and Lehua streets in Kapaa. Another abandoned vehicle is directly behind it.

LIHUE — A new state law requiring removal of abandoned vehicles may prove difficult for the county and the Kauai Police Department.

“The new law to remove and dispose of abandoned or derelict vehicles within 10 business days will be a challenge and we may need to look at increasing staff to be able to comply,” said KPD Capt. Mark Ozaki.

There are a lot of abandoned vehicles on Kauai, including three that have been sitting at Kealia Beach — actually on the beach.

The KPD received reports of 1,119 abandoned and derelict vehicles in 2017. Of that, 834 vehicles were deemed to be abandoned, while 365 were deemed to be derelict.

An abandoned vehicle is any vehicle left unattended for more than 24 hours on a public highway, or is unlawfully parked on a public property. A derelict vehicle is a vehicle that has had major parts removed, sustained material damage, or has been deemed inoperable.

The new law states that abandoned vehicles on public roads are a widespread environmental disaster that can adversely impact human health and safety.

West Hawaii’s Rep. Cindy Evans, one of the law’s sponsors, said the bill was supported by the public and now, counties will have to figure out its best practices, procedures and oversight of notice to owners, towing, storage and disposal of vehicles.

“If this law is ineffective, the public will weigh in and county elected officials will have to determined what they can do to make sure this mandate is carried out,” she said in a statement to The Garden Island newspaper.

Kauai County Council Chair Mel Rapozo said there will be significant costs involved to enforce the law.

“We weren’t advised (about the law), I wasn’t aware of it and I don’t know how we’re going to deal with the fiscal impact,” he said. “There was absolutely no communication to the County Council. It’s a Honolulu-centric bill, it’s an unfunded mandate that we will probably not be able to comply with without additional money and that upsets me quite a bit.”

The bill states each county’s mayor will have to designate an agency to carry out the law.

Ozaki said KPD tries to remove abandoned vehicles as quickly and safely as possible with the resources it has, but due to the high volume of complaints, it can take up to four weeks from the time the complaint is made for the abandoned vehicle coordinator to tow the vehicle. It can take 45 days to completely dispose of the vehicle.

However, Ozaki said, KPD will do everything possible to ensure compliance.

In written testimony regarding the measure, KPD Chief Darryl Perry said the deadline of 10 business days is unrealistic.

“We propose that the requirement of ‘disposal’ within 10 business days be removed and the time requirements to remove a vehicle from a public roadway be extended to 15 business days,” which is more realistic, he said.

Perry also said a vehicle is only considered “disposed of” when Puhi Metals Recycling Facility has been given permission to either destroy the vehicle or re-purpose it.

“Disposal takes place after notice is given to the owners(s) and the prescribed period of time lapses and the vehicle has not been claimed. Removal from a public roadway is not the same as disposal,” Perry said.

The process of disposal takes time, he said, and not only requires notification, but also relies on private entities such as tow companies and the recycling center, which KPD has little control over.

Perry also supported deleting language from the bill requiring legal owners be given 20 business days to claim a vehicle.

“This directly conflicts with the intent of the bill and the proposed 10 business days to remove and dispose of the vehicle,” he said.

KPD did support removal of language that required vehicles to go to auction, because often vehicles that are valued over $1,000 won’t fetch that much at auction, and going through the process is more costly than the money received from auctioned vehicles.


Bethany Freudenthal, courts, crime and county reporter, can be reached at 652-7891 or

  1. ruthann jones July 22, 2018 6:02 am Reply

    can’t these derelict cars be identified by vin numbers and traced back to owners for serious fines?
    These cars are most likely not tossed onto the beautiful landscape by tourists. Wake up, Kauai!

  2. tunataxi July 22, 2018 7:41 am Reply

    The county has failed on this issue for decades. Every vehicle has identification so find out who the owners are and make them pay for it

  3. jake July 22, 2018 7:41 am Reply

    There is plenty of money and resources to deal with these vehicles. The problem is that most of the owners are family members of the KPD or local government, and they don’t want to offend family members by flagging their abandoned cars.

  4. billyjoebob July 22, 2018 9:10 am Reply

    The County can create a whole new agency, Bureau of Vehicle Removal, complete with new office and staff.
    Purchase several ” green ” tow trucks. The staff could be run by Rapozos, just to simplify payroll.
    While I lived on Kauai I found old auto disposal was a complete pain, it is no wonder klunkers get dumped all over the island.

  5. LazyTricks July 22, 2018 9:30 am Reply

    But you can see county and state workers at all times of the day and night in county and state vehicles at Walmart, Kukui Grove, Safeway, Costco.

    Not to mention the weekend cleaning of that stupid Hardy plant trees and bushes in the middle of the street idea which is subcontracted and costing the county hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Oh yeah how the F… and why the F… does the county and state need Toyota 4Runners and Ford Raptors and 45K and 70K vehicles to do county and state work?

  6. Steven July 22, 2018 9:48 am Reply

    There are 16 abandoned vehicles right now on Anini beach Road. Why can’t they go after the last registered owner of vehicles. Even if the plates are missing there is the car serial number you can track them down with. Sorry to say this but this place is turning into a ghetto.

  7. mina July 22, 2018 2:37 pm Reply

    Once again, we are fast on our way to being called “The Garbage Island.” How many tourists plan to spend thousands of dollars for the chance to sit next to an abandoned car on a beach? You better believe it’s in the county’s best interest to remove these vehicles within 10 days. Find a place to put them, and stop using the tow-truck and salary money to buy brand new lifted Ford F150s and Toyota Tacomas for your relatives.

  8. truth be known July 22, 2018 2:43 pm Reply

    It seems to me the best alternative is to hire a private enterprise to collect the vehicles and pay them on a per vehicle basis delivered to Puhi Vehicle Recycling or a storage facility with a readable picture of the VIN number so that the previous owner can be assessed. The police can direct the hauling service to the most needed areas. The police have enough to do without having to collect abandoned vehicles and establishing another bureaucracy in the County Government is a waste of money.

  9. Knowitall July 23, 2018 11:22 am Reply

    Can’t we just reallocate some of the County Employees that aren’t doing anything and have them work solely on abandoned/ derelict vehicles? Plenty County workers cruising all day doing nothing

  10. WestKauai July 23, 2018 4:26 pm Reply

    So Mel Rapozo doesn’t read the papers or watch the news. This bill was signed into law on June 20th, as reported on KHON and elsewhere…

  11. H2O Pirate July 28, 2018 11:46 am Reply

    I reside on Kauai and just happened to be researching how to acquire a vehicle that has been abandoned on private property here on Kauai… :/

    Starting with phone calls to the property owner that has the abandoned vehicle on his property who is just trying to find someone to take it for free…:) The vehicle was left there a year ago and the person/previous owner left island and lost all contact intentionally as usual and typical as the island sends another transplant back home. ChiiHoo

    Then i visit county websites like to understand the legal way to get this moving in the right direction followed by county code websites like

    Then I make several phone calls to local boys I know in the business, i.e. tow trucks, scrap companies… etc. just looking for information on how the system works here on Kauai…
    Last yet certainly not Least, I find an article and a, “Good Read” by a gentleman named (David Morgan, Online Entrepreneur, WordPress Developer, Logo Designer, Surfer Dude)
    In my opinion an excellent article!!! David hands down flat puts the nails in the coffin regarding the concept of why we have an abandoned car problem, on all our Islands.
    My humble thoughts… This new law will change nothing… a bump in the road so to speak. Something must be done at a higher level and will absolutely require involvement from many different agencies (State, County, Law Enforcement and so on)
    One thought though is to make it easier for a bruddah re-register an abandoned vehicle, spend money at Napa on parts, get safety and get the vehicle back on the road as a legal functional fee generating vehicle.
    Don’t even get me started on the environmental impacts that our waters are suffering from this problem of cars full of all kine bad chemicals just leaching away into the ground as they rot.
    Its us guys… The LOCALS in Hawaii who have the Voices to Make Change!
    Let’s Use’m

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