Tow company defends street storage: ‘We’ve got no place to put our cars’

empire-full-tow-lot

A tow truck company has been taking up street parking for towed vehicles, and it’s not the only one.

We first told you about Kuni’s Automotive and Towing Monday night, after viewers reached out to our Action Line, hoping something would be done about the vehicles parked on Isenberg Street.

We were told the problem was being addressed. Honolulu police told us officers also drove by and saw fewer vehicles parked there, and the city is still working with the company on the situation.

After our story aired, we heard from viewers telling us the same thing was happened where they live. What’s going on and what’s being done about it?

We learned there are five subcontractors with All Island Towing, the official tow truck company for the city.

One of the subcontractors told us it has no choice but to park on city streets, because its cars are not being auctioned off by the city at a fast enough pace.

Matthew Barros, president of Empire Towing Company, says he has to park his cars on the street.

Barros’ warehouse is filled to capacity with junk or unregistered vehicles waiting for city auction. He’s had to get two more open yard lots to accommodate his business, because there wasn’t any room.

“We’re also the victim. We’ve got no place to put our cars,” Barros said. “You can’t spend money you don’t make. We have three yards we pay for. We can’t just keep getting more and more yards for the city on cars that they don’t send to auction. It needs to move faster.”

For example, Barros says one car has been in his lot for six months. Like many others, it once belonged to a military service member.

“We were told because it’s something about a military member’s car and it can’t be auctioned off,” Barros said.

The city is dealing with legal issues involving military-exempt vehicles being sold at public auction, so we asked about the holdup.

“I can’t comment on any pending litigation, but regardless of any lawsuit, it’s up to subcontractor and main contractor to have a space where these towed vehicles are parked away from a city street,” said city spokesman Andrew Pereira. “As far as the unusual number of cars, there was one auction that has been delayed. There was a delay in an auction. That may be a result for why we’re seeing more cars parked in public streets.”

Public auctions are held once every four weeks.

We reached out to All Island Towing, but have not yet heard back.

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