The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, in coordination with Hawaii County, has removed 382 abandoned vehicles and approximately 700 tires from agricultural homestead lots in Makuu.
DHHL in February said it was aware there was a problem with abandoned vehicles in Makuu in the Puna District.
An investigation included an assessment from the state Department of Health and resulted in the citations of several unpermitted structures, the citation of abandoned vehicles, and trespass notices given to unauthorized campers, the department said at that time.
In September, the department secured assistance from the county Department of Environmental Management’s Solid Waste Division to remove the abandoned vehicles.
A DHHL spokesman on Friday said the cars were removed from three homestead lots and an additional lot, encompassing roughly 15 acres.
According to the DHHL, a gate, located at Ka Ohuwalu Drive and Kaheakeola Place, was installed to restrict access during the removal and will remain in place until the land has been fully restored and the lots are scheduled to be re-offered to beneficiaries.
“It was quite an operation to get everything out of there,” Solid Waste Division Chief Greg Goodale said Friday.
According to Goodale, DHHL reached out to the division’s abandoned vehicle program for assistance, and the county’s abandoned vehicle coordinator, Julianna Holzman-Escareno, worked with the state to coordinate with the county’s towing contractors.
“From our end, any time we can see … an area that has been messed up so badly by folks that don’t have any consideration for the land, to see that get cleaned up and all those (cars) get removed is a huge success, not only for Hawaiian homes, but for the county as a whole,” he said.
Goodale said the county’s abandoned vehicle program typically tows vehicles abandoned on public roadways. Hawaii County has a contract with scrap metal vendors to process and recycle those vehicles.
Abandoned vehicles can pose traffic, safety and environmental hazards and are an eyesore, he said.
According to DHHL, a remediation plan to address soil contamination is in the works in collaboration with the DOH, and a formal assessment and implementation is anticipated to start before a new lot offer.
Lots returned to the DHHL or those that go back into department’s inventory because of a lease cancellations will be offered to beneficiaries on the Hawaii Island applicant waiting list.
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