City auctions off dozens of vehicles from overflowing tow yard

The city is taking steps to ease overflow at a contracted tow yard.

Starting at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 21, the Department of Customer Services held a district tow auction to sell off 42 cars from Kuni’s Automotive and Towing.

Then starting at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 22, the city will hold an abandoned vehicle auction where 21 vehicles from Kuni’s will be sold.

City officials say the auctions will be held online. Interested bidders are asked to register at this link.

You can find more information about these auctions as well as other Honolulu City and County auctions at this link.

Unclaimed and Abandoned Vehicles Online Public Auction

  • Minimum bid of fifty dollars ($50) for each vehicle
  • Vehicles may be inspected within 5 calendar days prior to the day of auction. Call for appointment at (808) 682-0770.
  • Vehicles will be sold as is and where is by online internet bidding using the City’s Vendor Self Service system (VSS).
  • All auctions will begin closing at 10:00 a.m. each respective day.

In addition to the auctions, the city says all HPD District 4 requested tows will be rerouted to Kuni’s recently approved overflow facility located at 672 Bannister Street.

“This procedure will provide immediate relief to the Isenberg Street lot by having the vehicles towed directly to the Bannister Street facility,” said Sherilyn Kajiwara, Department of Customer Services director.

Residents are urged to contact the city’s Department of Customer Services at 768-4381 if they see towed vehicles parked in metered stalls.

As we’ve previously reported, numerous residents have contacted KHON2’s Action Line to say Kuni’s Automotive and Towing has a lot so full, it’s had to move dozens of cars onto Isenberg Street, taking up premium parking space. We’ve continued to receive complaints, even after our stories aired.

All-Island Towing has a contract with the city, but also shares some of the work with tow yards like Kuni’s and Empire Towing in Wahiawa.

All-Island Towing says the problem is the auctions aren’t held often enough to keep cars from piling up at tow yards. The city also recently missed an auction.

We’re told the yards are filled with abandoned cars that cannot be auctioned off due to a lawsuit involving the city, but All-Island Towing president Paul Perry says there could be a short-term solution.

“We are in discussions with the city to trying to have auctions more frequently, at least every two weeks,” said Perry.

The city currently holds public car auctions online every four weeks.

“What’s going on right now, over the past few months, is the U.S. Justice Department has been in litigation with the city. I can’t get into specifics, but it basically has to do with military-owned vehicles. We’ve had to place a hold on processing these cars and disposing on them. At this point, we (tow companies island-wide) are holding them indefinitely. As of today, we have approximately 250 cars taking up real estate in our storage lots,” Perry said.

But why has Kuni’s been parking vehicles on Isenberg Street?

“There is no excuse to use public streets to store vehicles, but our quagmire is we are completely out of space. We — myself and the subcontactors — went out of pocket to rent additional lots. We’re footing the bill for all of this. We’re doing everything we can,” Perry responded.

“What would you say to residents who are beyond frustrated with the overflow, and say it is the towing company’s responsibility to find storage for these abandoned vehicles?” KHON2 asked Perry.

“First off, I’d like to apologize for the inconvenience sincerely, and assure them we are doing everything humanly possible to get more space,” he said. “I plead with them to just give me a little time. Please be patient.”

City officials previously told KHON2 they cannot comment on pending litigation.

We reached out to the city to see if they’d consider holding auctions every two weeks versus every four. The following is a statement, in full, by Randy Leong, deputy director of the Department of Customer Services:

“A total of 307 vehicles were eligible for inclusion as part of the auctions being held on December 21 and 22.

These 307 vehicles represent the entirety of the population of vehicles that can be auctioned at this particular point in time, and any vehicles that remain unsold may be immediately disposed by the city’s towing contractor.

As such, there is really not a ‘backlog’ of unsold vehicles, as the vendor has the ability to remove all unsold vehicles following each monthly auction. Depending on the volume of unsold vehicles, however, it may take some time for the vendor to be able to actually remove the unsold vehicles from the various storage locations, and for the completion of the recycling/scrapping process.

By statute (HRS 290-11), the city is required to notify the registered owner of a vehicle within 15 days of the vehicle being towed. Then, if the vehicle is not claimed within 30 days after the mailing of the notice, it shall be deemed abandoned and the owner of the towing company, or the owner of the towing company’s authorized representative, after one public advertisement in a newspaper of general circulation in the State, may negotiate a sale of the vehicle or dispose of it as junk.

The next auctions are scheduled for January 18 and 19, 2017.

The city is open to reviewing its auction schedule and consider the viability of making adjustments as may be deemed necessary.”

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