Abandoned vehicles on the rise

  • Coco Zickos / The Garden Island

    Vehicles are dumped at random locations around the island, and actions are currently being taken to help mitigate the problem. This dumped dump truck sports graffitti, and the abandoned vehicle green sticker on the headlight at right.

LIHUE — Abandoned vehicles are on the rise on Kauai.

In fiscal year 2019, the Kauai Police Department had 653 vehicles towed, and currently has more than 270 pending complaints.

During fiscal year 2017, the department handled the removal of 404 abandoned and derelict vehicles, and 498 in fiscal 2018.

Kauai taxpayers paid more than $411,000 for the handling and disposal of these abandoned and derelict vehicles in 2017, and around $423,00 in 2018. This year, the county has already spent some $491,000.

Each vehicle costs at least a few hundred dollars to remove, but that number can climb to as much as $2,000, depending upon the vehicle’s condition and location, according to KPD.

Moreover, these figures do not take into account payroll costs, and the time it takes for county personnel to deal with the matter.

“Our police officers, the abandoned vehicle coordinator, fiscal personnel, Finance Department personnel and other county staff all have a role, and spend time addressing this issue,” said KPD Assistant Chief Mark Begley. “We do not currently have a breakdown of those payroll costs.”

Proactive measures are being taken to help address the issue, including a bill for an act that the County Council’s Housing and Intergovernmental Relations Committee recommended for approval Wednesday. The proposed legislation would establish the same beautification fee for rental vehicles that residents already pay as part of their vehicle registrations.

This fee goes toward costs to remove abandoned and derelict vehicles. Residents can be charged up to $10 per year, but rental-car companies currently have a cap of $1 per year. This legislation would remove that cap.

The bill, introduced by Councilmembers Mason Chock and Luke Evslin, will now make its way to the full council for further discussion, and for potential inclusion in the 2020 Hawaii State Association of Counties legislative package and 2020 county legislative package — an avenue in which the council can propose bills at the state Legislature.

“The council needs to continue trying to help the police,” said council Vice Chair Ross Kagawa. “I’m happy to support any type of legislation coming from this area.”

The council Housing and Intergovernmental Relations Committee was not ready, however, to move forward with another bill for an act pertaining to abandoned and derelict vehicles that places the onus of the transfer of ownership on the seller rather than the buyer.

A new proposal may be forthcoming as councilmembers work with KPD and the county’s Finance Department to iron out more details. If they can come up with something within the right timeframe, it could also have the potential to move to the state Legislature if approved at a future council meeting.

“KPD and Chief of Police Todd Raybuck fully supported the intent of the bill introduced by councilpersons Chock and Evslin, and we are very grateful to them for taking that first step to address this issue legislatively,” Begley said. “But during further discussions and research, we determined that the language of the bill was not comprehensive enough to fully close the loopholes in the current law.”

Right now, buyers of vehicles are responsible for transferring ownership, but sometimes fail to do so, making it difficult for KPD to track the current owner of abandoned or derelict vehicles.

In the meantime, there are things residents can do to mitigate the issue. KPD recommends that people who are buying or selling a car “insist” that both parties meet at the county Finance Department Motor Vehicle Registration window to transfer the title in person.

“Both parties will be better protected from fraud, and it will help the county keep current with accurate records of vehicle transfers and ownership,” Begley said. “We believe that this practice will drastically reduce the occurrences of abandoned and derelict vehicles.”

Vehicle owners who need to dispose of their vehicles can visit kauai.gov/vehicledisposal to learn about the proper steps involved. Residents are allowed to dispose of up to three vehicles each year free of charge as long as they follow the instructions, which include filling out an affidavit and making arrangements to have the vehicle brought to the Puhi Metals Recycling Facility.

These bills will be discussed again at the next County Council meeting that starts at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday in the council chambers of the Historic County Building.


Coco Zickos, county reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or czickos@thegardenisland.com.

  1. I saw a Vampire once September 8, 2019 5:09 am Reply

    I suppose. That means more or less cars on the roads. Newer cars. If they bought another car.

  2. Andrew September 8, 2019 10:15 am Reply

    When we (citizens) sell a car in Hawaii, we (the seller) must turn in a small portion of the title informing the DMV that we have sold the car. It is called a “Notice of Transfer.” It has the license plate number, vin number, type of vehicle printed on it as part of the ownership title. The seller is supposed to write the purchasers name and address on the “Notice of Transfer” and submit it to the DMV within 10 days, or face a $100 fine. Perhaps this article should mention how and why this system is not working. We should not be required to show up at the DMV with someone to do a business transaction. NO WAY!

    Yes the rental companies should pay their fare share for beautification. Everyone should agree on that.

    When someone abandons a car on the side of the road, they erase the cars VIN numbers and remove the license plates (if they have half a brain!) It is an old Island way of sharing the cars usable parts with their community. Hard for a transplant to understand…it can be looked at as a kind gesture to make the car available for taking parts….There are no more “junkyards” for people to process old cars and parts(another story that is a precursor to this current issue.)

    Yay for Rental Companies sharing the cost burden, NO to meeting at the DMV with a stranger to conduct business.

  3. David Gardener September 8, 2019 4:24 pm Reply

    My understanding of the law that made junkyards illegal was out of a concern of all the leaking fluids polluting the ground.

    This resulted in abandoned cars leaking toxic fluids in many spots all over the island and all the extra costs cited in the article. What kind of sense has this made? None as far as I can see.

    Outlawing junk yards also eliminated a business opportunity and eliminated the availability of obtaining used, but still serviceable, parts to repair your own car. If you think that’s nothing to speak of, have you ever needed to order a $50 part that had to come from the mainland and the shipping was up to 3 times as much as the part… or that you could find your part at a really good price on the mainland but when you gave your address they said, “Oh, we don’t ship to Hawaii?” Makes ya want to pull your hair out!

    The best solution to this abandoned car problem in my opinion would be to reverse the law on junkyards and make a provision that says the owner of the junkyard must drain the gas, oil, brake fluid and transmission fluids and have a county worker inspect them monthly to make sure they are in compliance. There could also be a provision of obtaining a junkyard business license that you agree to pay for any soil remediation necessary if the inspector observes a problem area.

    Let’s go forward with what worked better, not try to shift the problem to car owners.

  4. Ismael Tabalno September 8, 2019 6:38 pm Reply

    ‪Here we go again, ”Abandon Vehicles on the Rise”‬
    ‪Sounds like a beginning of a pending catastrophic horror movie in paradise😂, where ‬
    ‪people are ignoring the warning signs😳.‬

    My two cents…There is cash money in recycling items! Recyclers must share profits to the contributors of recyclable materials!?
    Most people I know are aware of the huge profitable market for plastic bottles, copper, aluminum, cardboard, pallets, etc. I see young and old people picking up plastic bottles from parks, trash bins, vehicle rental places, wherever they find them. These simple actions earn money and helps Kauai nice looking. Some collect bags at home, why, because there is an incentive, they get paid CASH! Same with metals such as copper or aluminum cans, there’s money in these metals.
    Why not recycable iron from junked vehicles that weight thousands of pounds each!? Why isn’t the salvage yard, like the collectors of plastic bottles and other recyclers paying or sharing the profits they get from selling tons of recyclable metals from the junk vehicles. By the way the same salvage company also receive other metals from refrigerators, scrap metals from construction sites, motorcycles, stoves, pipes, etc. I am sure they are also concern about keeping Kauai beautiful with less abandon vehicles and other metal trash.
    Why isn’t there a program in place on Kauai and why has’t any council member consider such an incentative program? Instead of spending thousands of taxpayers dollars wasted on each abandon vehicle. On top of that the county is considering taxing the taxpayers and rental companies more to alleviate the problem!?
    Why isn’t there a reward program implemented with the county’s participation for tons of vehicle metal? The county must stop paying thousands of our taxpayers dollars cleaning up Kauai’s abandon vehicles. As a taxpayer I would rather have a person receive couple hundred bucks to deliver his junk to the salvage yard instead of the current county workers manhour expenditures and thousands of dollars wasted.

  5. Rev Dr. Malama September 9, 2019 6:21 am Reply

    I agree with Andrew and others on this issue…..
    BUT $444,444 in our tax dollars for abandoned vehicles is HIGHWAY ROBBERY!!!

  6. Joe Public September 9, 2019 11:44 am Reply

    Notice after traffic accidents, the police place yellow caution tape on the vehicle so they don’t receive another call about the car, some sits for weeks until it is posted.

    Why dont the police have it towed from the scene immediately after the crash and have the Registered Owner responsible for the payment and not the tax payers?

    Simple solution if the police would take the extra step instead of leaving it on the side of the road..

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