The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL), in coordination with the County of Hawaiʻi, has begun on-the-ground efforts to remove intentionally abandoned vehicles and tires on three parcels of agricultural homestead lots in Makuʻu, Hawaiʻi Island.
Earlier this month, the Department signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the County to secure aid from the County’s Department of Environmental Management’s Solid Waste Division – Abandoned Vehicle Program in removing approximately 300 vehicles abandoned on these lands.
DHHL has installed a gate at the entrance of the roadway to restrict access to the area as the removal occurs.
“We have been diligent in our efforts to address the abandoned cars and other issues on these homestead lots despite COVID-19 restrictions that have added additional challenges,” said Hawaiian Homes Commission Chairman William J. Ailā, Jr. “I’d like to acknowledge the County of Hawaiʻi, the Hawaiʻi Police Department, and the surrounding community for their collaboration in advancing this effort.”
In February, the Department issued a statement announcing that an investigation into community complaints was underway. As a result of the investigation, unpermitted structures and abandoned vehicles were cited, along with trespass notices issued to unpermitted campers.
DHHL demolished an unoccupied unpermitted structure on one of the lots in May and secured entry points to the parcels earlier this year.
A remediation plan to address any related soil contamination from the derelict vehicles is in the works between DHHL and the Hawaiʻi Department of Health. A formal assessment and plan implementation will take place once the vehicle removal is completed.
The Department has also requested contested case hearings with the Hawaiian Homes Commission to address lease violations committed by area lessees. Lots that are returned to DHHL or those that come back into inventory as a result of a lease cancelation would be offered to beneficiaries on the Hawaiʻi Island Applicant Waiting List.
“In addition to land leased for homesteading, DHHL manages thousands of acres of conservation, special use, and unencumbered lands,” said Chair Ailā. “What happened in Makuʻu underscores the importance of homesteaders occupying and using their homestead lots. When the Department is brought in to take care of issues on leased land, it costs time and money that could otherwise be used to get applicants off the waiting list.”
The public is encouraged to report dumping, abandoned vehicles, or unauthorized campers on Hawaiian Home Lands by calling (808) 620-9500.