Bill to address AVs advances

  • An abandoned vehicle sits on private property on the side of Makala Boulevard in this file photo. A bill that would allow private property owners to remove free of charge abandoned or derelict vehicles from their land moved one step closer to fruition Wednesday. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

A bill that would allow private property owners to remove free of charge abandoned or derelict vehicles from their land moved one step closer to fruition Wednesday.

Bill 200 would establish a program to allow the Department on Environmental Management to dispose of such vehicles from private property at the request of the land owner. The measure also changes Hawaii County Code to clarify that a notice placed on a suspected abandoned or derelict vehicle left on a public road must state that the vehicle be moved beyond a radius of 1 mile within 24 hours to no longer be considered abandoned.


The bill, in its second draft, passed its first reading before the full Hawaii County Council Wednesday with a 9-0 vote sending it to a second reading. If passed on second reading, it will be sent to Mayor Mitch Roth for his signature.

Environmental Management Director Ramzi Mansour described the proposed program as an “additional flexible tool” in managing abandoned vehicles in Hawaii County, adding that funding is already available. According to Mansour, the department receives about $2.4 million annually to manage abandoned and derelict vehicles, of which about $700,000 has been carried over to the next fiscal year for the past three years.

“So, usually the actual costs of expenditure versus what we budget could allow us to extend that flexibility within the program to give it to our constituents, back to our constituents, and beautify the island,” he said. “You all know we have a lot of abandoned vehicle.”

Mansour estimated the program could fund the removal of 500 to 1,000 vehicles per year, noting the figure considers inflation and is based on the cost of towing and disposal a car being around $600.

However, the actual number of vehicles that could be removed will be dependent on available funding and staffing if the budget changes.

“It’s going to be based on availability and kind of first-come, first-serve,” Mansour said. “Once that extra money is depleted, the program will cease ‘til the next year.”

Mansour also pointed to the possibility of increasing the county’s vehicle disposal fee to provide additional funding for the program. He also noted that the current fee isn’t enough to cover the cost of disposal of a vehicle.

“Unfortunately, we collect $12 per year, and it’s going to take 50 years — 50 years — to cover that cost,” he said.

The last time the fee was increased was in 2003 when it was upped from $4 to the current $12 per year.

“It’s been 20 years — 20 years,” Mansour said after noting council members may consider incremental increases rather than such a large jump. “That we could take on down the road, but I’m just trying to plant the seed now.”

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