Abandoned rig solution is a lot where droppers get paid
This is a letter sent to Councilman Dru Kanuha’s administrative assistant. I believe that if enough people of Hawaii County speak out, we can find a pollution solution to an ongoing problem littering our community:
Thank you for taking my call today. As I mentioned, I own a 5-acre farm on the Mamalahoa Highway in Holualoa. I understand that Dru Kanuha is my councilman for my district. I called last week and spoke to someone in your office regarding the ongoing issue of abandoned cars in our Heritage Corridor. My farm and home are part of the Tanaka quarry and we have spent nearly the last decade and a half reclaiming and improving the land by planting over 2,000 trees.
I have lived in my home full time for over 12 years now and about every six months someone abandons a vehicle on the highway in close proximity to our farm. As you are aware, once the police tag the vehicle as an AV, or abandoned vehicle, it becomes a “pick and pull” situation to scavengers.
In the past, the county was fairly expeditious at removing said vehicles but as of late, the time for removal can take one to two months. I had the pleasure of meeting the police officer who tagged the vehicle two days after it was dropped off. He explained to me that in the past, China would buy all the steel from the US including Hawaii and therefore it was easy to remove these derelict vehicles. Since the economy in China has dropped off, the price for steel has dropped. Therefore, removal of these vehicles have become a conundrum for the county to address this situation because the towing services are not as motivated as they were before.
I was told by this Hawaii County Police officer that once the tow company comes to remove the skeleton of the vehicle, the county is charged $750 to remove it and we as taxpayers are responsible for the actions of people who don’t care about our aina. The perpetrators who dump these vehicles go to great lengths to remove the license plates and all evidence of the VIN.
Furthermore, oftentimes even if the owner can be traced, it might have been a prior owner, who did not inform the DMV. Fines imposed by the courts are excused, because the current owner was never on the title record. I have to clean the aftermath of what is left after the vehicles are dragged away. This means broken glass, pieces of metal, trash, etc.
Here is a proposed solution:
Create a surrender program to the “tow lot” at the Kona police station. Give the person who surrenders the vehicle $100 to leave it with the police, saving the taxpayers $650 from the $750 it currently costs paying the tow operators who are already overwhelmed with other business. If the vehicle is inoperable, have a surrender program whereby the county arranges for the vehicle to be picked up with no compensation to the owner. The county can possibly recover some of their costs by having a semi-annual auction to rid themselves of these vehicles. I think this is viable alternative to those who see nothing wrong with littering and polluting our beautiful Island of Hawaii.
Greg Colden is a resident of Keauhou
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