SAND ISLAND, OAHU (HAWAIINEWSNOW) - Tow companies on Oahu complain they are swamped and overcrowded with abandoned and derelict vehicles, and there's no room for anymore.
The city towed some 1,600 abandoned cars in 2016. However, that number is decreasing this year because space to put the abandoned vehicles is running out.
The city believes a major contributor to the problem is the military.
About 300 abandoned vehicles currently on tow lots around Oahu were traced to military personnel who left the island, leaving their vehicles behind and creating storage issues for towing companies.
"We've met with the military because we want them to know don't abandon your cars on public property," said Sheri Kajiwara, director of the Department of Customer Services.
She said before the city can auction or destroy these cars it must follow federal procedures that protect soldiers' rights. The process can take months, slowing the removal of other abandoned vehicles because there is limited space to put them.
Kajiwara said it gives the false impression that nothing is being done.
"We have been picking up the same number of vehicles that we have for the last four years," she said.
State Rep. Andria Tupola is particularly concerned because many abandoned vehicles are dumped in the communities she represents on the Leeward Coast.
"Lots of the metal scrapping and recycling facilities would like the city to come forward with a parcel that the city towing companies that are contracted could possibly place these cars in a holding area in case their lot is full. At this point, because they are full, nobody's picking up cars," Tupola said.
But there's another problem. Most cars getting dumped are too damaged to be driven, and the low rates for scrap metal cause fewer people to take their own cars in for recycling.
"Before people would turn their vehicles in and get a few bucks for what they could not use. But now it may cost you more to junk your vehicle than you get back," Kajiwara said.
The city has a program for people to junk their cars for free, provided they have proof of ownership. But with the storage issues, it just may take awhile to find a place to put it. In the meantime, Kajiwara said the city is looking for a storage property.
The city's form for junking a vehicle can be found by clicking here.