LIHUE — Abandoned cars were on the table at Wednesday’s Kauai County Council Parks and Recreation/Transportation Committee meeting, with councilmembers voicing concerns about the high number of banged-up vehicles appearing along roadsides, in county parks and on beaches.
“(It’s a) major complaint we get from a lot of our constituents,” said Councilmember KipuKai Kuali‘i, as they listened to a report from a Kauai Police Department representatives. “It’s important (for) tourism as well — the beautification of our island.”
Councilmember Felicia Cowden said she’s gotten complaints from all across the island, specifically naming Kalaheo, Anahola and Wainiha Powerhouse Road — all places where abandoned vehicles seem to re-accumulate as soon as KPD sends a tow truck to remove the ones already reported.
“There’s a fresh batch right after they’ve been taken out,” Cowden said of the abandoned vehicles at the intersection of Kuhio Highway and Wainiha Powerhouse Road.
The abandoned vehicles present an eyesore, and also have the potential for posing environmental hazards if they leak fluids. Another potential hazard could be due to broken glass or other jagged parts.
Often by the time they’re reported, tagged and towed, tires are removed, windshields are smashed, gas has been siphoned and anything of value has been stripped away.
June brought a new law mandating a 10-day timeframe to remove abandoned and derelict vehicles — and that’s just not feasible, according to KPD.
In early February, Acting Assistant Chief Paul Applegate told TGI that KPD is “working toward increasing our staff in order to be compliant,” but the new timeframe is impossible to accommodate.
KPD has one staff member dedicated to abandoned-vehicle recovery, one contracted towing company for abandoned vehicles and one towing company contracted for derelict vehicles.
The entity still has more than 100 complaints leftover from 2018, and they’re receiving multiple complaints daily to add to that number.
The reasons for abandoning vehicles can be varied, and many times have to do with not having the proper paperwork to be able to surrender the vehicle to Puhi Metals Recycling facility for proper recycling — a junking affidavit, license plates, and certificate of title. The process also requires a trip to the county Finance Department Motor Vehicle Licensing section..
Chanel Kaeo, association president for Lihue Industrial Park phase two, voiced support for all KPD is doing to respond to abandoned-vehicle complaints, but said more should be done.
“We have to make better ordinances for Kauai to help,” she said. “Maybe the fees have to be higher for those causing the problem. In the industrial park, there’s only a few bad apples making it hard for everybody else.”
Cowden pointed out another potential help would be to remind people they can discard their vehicles at Puhi Metals Recycling, and for under $100.
Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro suggested people could make it easier for the county to respond to these reported vehicles by simply abandoning their vehicle at Puhi Metals Recycling.
“At least that would help with tow costs,” he said. “Make it easy on people, be responsible. Bring your vehicle where it needs to be disposed of.”
Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.