Federal law makes city’s struggle to get abandoned cars off streets even harder

There are abandoned cars on the streets. Sometimes the cars are there for days or weeks at a time.

It’s a problem that’s getting worse because tow yards are packed.

Councilmembers are urging the city to work to get abandoned cars off the streets saying the problem has become a health and safety hazard.

If you’ve seen a car with one of these flyers on the street for days on end, you’re not alone. Cars that are left in the same spot for over 24 hours are considered abandoned.

While some are towed to a local tow lot, many are left on the street for extended periods of time. Something Council Member Ernie Martin says is a problem. “We did some research and we found out that all of the tow yards are actually filled to capacity and that there’s a problem with having these vehicles either retrieved or sold at auction.”

Martin says because of the tow lots being filled to capacity, there’s nowhere for the constant influx of abandoned vehicles to go.

KHON2 spoke with Council member Martin and a representative from the city who both say there’s a reason for the problem, “My understanding is a lot of the issues with the tow yards why there is an over surplus vehicles is primarily because of a federal law that prohibits vehicles that are owned by military personnel from being sold at auction.”

According to the city, around 20 military owned vehicles are towed each month.

Because of protections for service members, the military cars keep piling up. Martin is asking the city to take this on. “If in fact the vehicles are identified as being abandoned by military personnel that rather than have them stored at the city lot perhaps we can have them stored on base to relieve the overflow of the public lots so we can continue to perform the service in a responsible manner.”

City officials say they have been reaching out to the military, and that the city is researching a new lot where military cars would be stored, Martin says he hopes this happens soon. “We have to address this issue.”

To report an abandoned or derelict vehicle to the City and County of Honolulu log onto http://www3.honolulu.gov/csdavcomplaints/

Story on KHON2 at 10 p.m.

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