EWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Under growing pressure to free up space at lots owned by towing companies in order to make room for more cars, Honolulu city officials have begun storing hundreds of abandoned vehicles at a pair of golf courses in Ewa Beach.
"We have over 400 cars right now that we need to take certain action on before we can get rid of them," City Customer Services director Sheri Kajiwara said.
The vehicles largely belong to U.S. military members who abandoned them when they left Hawaii. The cars previously occupied space at tow company lots that are already overcrowded.
The city's begun moving them to temporary lots set up in the parking lots of the West Loch and Ewa Villages golf courses, along with the old Ewa fire station.
"We didn't want it to be an eyesore to the community," Kajiwara said. "We didn't want it to affect public services. We didn't want it to be a hindrance in any way to any community."
But some in the Ewa area say the city should have notified the community through the Ewa Neighborhood Board before moving the abandoned cars to golf course sites. Neighborhood board member Kurt Fevella says understands the city's predicament – but doesn't understand why Kajiwara didn't reveal the plan before putting it into action.
"When the community comes to us and catches us off guard, that we don't know that something is happening in our own backyard, that I have a little bit of a question," he said.
"We apologize if that has been a problem for them," Kajiwara said. "Our main goal was to try to find a solution that would benefit the public in as quickly a manner as possible."
Golfers at the West Loch and Ewa Villages courses say the vehicle storage doesn't get in the way.
"The parking lot is empty most of the time, especially that back portion of the parking lot," said Nelson Watanabe. "It's not taking space from anything, anyone else. I think it's fine."
Because the lots are paved, the city believes no auto fluid will seep into the soil. There are no plans to add more temporary towing yards.
"We're looking at a six month maximum storage," Kajiwara said. "We think that's how much time it will take us to make decisions on all of these vehicles."