Kokua Line
June Watanabe

Abandoned forklift
may not be seized

Question: There is a forklift that's been left on Waihee Road for about two years. All my attempts to have the city address the problem have gotten nowhere. They're telling me they can't do anything about it because it's privately owned. It infuriates me that neither the city nor police will take any action on it. I just called Street Maintenance and was told "it will stay there indefinitely -- they can't do anything about it." Why can't they take care of this abandoned forklift?

Answer: Amazingly, there is apparently no way to get this forklift removed under current laws.

Your best bet might be to talk to your local Council member about getting the law changed to address the situation.

The main problem is that a forklift is not covered under abandoned-vehicle laws.

The Motor Vehicle Control Section enforces provisions of Chapter 290 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes relating to abandoned vehicles, said Dennis Kamimura, administrator for the city Motor Vehicle and Licensing Division. That chapter specifically relates to vehicles that must be registered. Registration is key, he said, "so that we are able to provide notice to the owner of a suspected abandoned vehicle before it is disposed at public auction."

However, that chapter does not apply to "equipment" that is not required to be registered, such as a forklift.

"If the equipment poses a safety/traffic hazard as determined by the Honolulu Police Department, HPD may be able to authorize the removal of the equipment," Kamimura said.

However, according to police, the forklift does not pose a traffic or safety hazard.

No one has claimed ownership -- although you believe it is owned by people who live nearby -- and no one has reported it stolen.

Because of those factors, police are not authorized to have the forklift towed away, said HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu.

Police are familiar with the forklift and your complaint, and have looked at various ways to try to get it removed.

"We were trying to figure out a way," Yu said. "Under current laws there is nothing that gives police the authority to remove a forklift."

HPD suggests you work with lawmakers to try to address a situation like this.

Q: Our neighbors built a tool shed with its back wall right up to the property line, with the roof sloping into our yard. This causes the rainwater to fall like a waterfall onto our property, which we don't like at all. Are they breaching some kind of law? How would you handle such a neighbor?

A: You should talk first to your neighbor to see if something can be worked out.

If not, call the city building inspection division's complaint line at 523-4276.

If it's a small structure, it probably did not need a building permit, but the city does have setback requirements, an official explained.


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
E-mail to kokualine@starbulletin.com

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