Laws murky over abandoned boats
There is a boat on a trailer that has been parked on our residential street for the past six months. I have contacted the city's abandoned vehicle office and the nice lady there told me that unfortunately they don't handle boats. They suggested I contact the state Department of Land and Natural Resources or the Honolulu Police Department. Both HPD and DLNR told me that I would need to call the abandoned vehicles office. Are there laws about parking/leaving boats on public streets, and if so, whom do I contact to come enforce them?
Q: There is an abandoned boat on a trailer with no tires parked on 10th Avenue that has been there forever. I believe the boat owners live across the street from where the boat is parked. What does the law say about owners abandoning something like this on public streets?
Q: A boat has been parked on a public road in our neighborhood and has not moved for the last year. The road is narrow and used by many people for parking. I have called the Division of Motor Vehicles, abandoned vehicles, DLNR boat permitting, the local police substation and 911 non-emergency. I was told nothing will probably happen. Are there any laws similar to abandoning a car on a public road concerning a boat on a trailer and what can I do?
Answer: It's taken a while to get an answer to these complaints because authorities say the way the laws are now written, no clear jurisdiction is given as to who can tow the vessels away.
State Sen. Suzanne Chun-Oakland is planning to introduce legislation during the 2008 session to more clearly specify the authority for removing and disposing of boats and boats mounted on trailers abandoned on public roadways.
When we had a similar complaint in 2005 (Kokua Line, Nov. 5, 2005), HPD told us that if the boats/trailers pose a hazard, people should call 911 and a tow would be ordered immediately.
HPD said police also would order tows for offenses such as blocking driveways or fire hydrants or parking in a tow-away zone.
HPD spokesman Capt. Frank Fujii reiterated that police will issue a citation if a boat and trailer have been left on the road for more than 24 hours.
But, "the problem is, who is going to tow" if there are no "towable" offenses, he said. Police can notify the city's abandoned vehicle office, but HPD otherwise has "no authority to tow," he said.
For the city's abandoned vehicle office, the problem is centered on how it has no authority to tow away "vessels," according to an opinion issued by the city's Corporation Counsel, said Dennis Kamimura, administrator of the city's Motor Vehicle & Licensing Division.
The DLNR, under state law, has authority to dispose of vessels left unattended for a continuous period within state waters or public property, but nothing authorizes it to remove trailers.
Chun-Oakland said she has been working with officials from DLNR's small boat harbors division, as well as with Kamimura, to come up with a draft bill this session.
Although the city does not have the authority to remove suspected abandoned boats mounted on trailers from public roads, Kamimura said Section 15-21.5(c) of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu does make it a violation to leave trailers parked on public highways without the safety chain securely coupled to the motor vehicle to which it has been coupled for towing.
But even if HPD issues a citation for this violation, it "does not necessarily mean that the boat and trailer will be removed," Kamimura said.
To the lady driving a BMW SUV for "dinging" my car door in the Kailua Safeway parking lot on Dec. 24. She didn't have the courtesy to say "sorry" but instead gave me her middle finger. -- No Name