Hawaii counties struggling with costs of abandoned vehicles

Hawaii counties struggling with costs of abandoned vehicles
Abandoned vehicles (Source: Hawaii News Now/file)

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii’s counties have struggled to meet the growing financial burden caused by abandoned vehicles in recent years and are tackling the problem without the Legislature.

The Hawaii Council of Mayors has been unable to find measures to contend with the issue, despite making transportation one of the group’s legislative priorities this year, Hawaii Public Radio reported Thursday.

Kauai County received reports of 900 abandoned vehicles and Maui County logged nearly double that number last year. On Oahu last year, Honolulu removed more than 4,700 abandoned vehicles.

Bills aimed at dealing with the financial and environmental costs of junk cars failed to gain traction in the Legislature, so counties are addressing the problem individually.

Counties usually charge residents highway beautification fees of up to $10 per year. But Tamara Farnsworth, head of the Maui County Environmental Protection & Sustainability Division, said that was not enough.

“In addition to our Highway Beautification Fund and Abandoned Vehicles Fund,” Farnsworth said, “we also have a $25 vehicle disposal fee that each Maui resident pays on their annual registration.”

The money helps subsidize Maui’s junk car disposal program and allows residents to dispose of one vehicle per year without cost.

All of Hawaii’s other counties offer a similar program.

Hawaii County removes more than 1,000 abandoned vehicles per year. The county also offers an amnesty program for residents who find abandoned vehicles on their properties.

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami said his administration is looking at treating abandoned cars like bulky item pick-up for families suffering with the state’s high cost of living.

“We can come by and help you remove some of these items so that you don’t feel that you have to abandon them on the side of the road,” Kawakami said.

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