City's tow contract to expire with hundreds of abandoned vehicles on the line

Time is running out on a contract between the city and its current tow-truck vendor, which might not want to keep the job.

All-Island Automotive Towing was awarded a three-year deal in 2014 as the exclusive tow company for the city, responsible for tows initiated by the Honolulu Police Department.

Since then, All-Island has been struggling with storing hundreds of abandoned vehicles island-wide.

Its contract runs out at the end of the month, and the company is considering whether it really wants another contract with the city.

A tow company KHON2 spoke with says if All-Island doesn't accept, problems could start spilling onto the streets.

Tow yards island-wide are struggling with storing hundreds of abandoned cars, many belonging to military service members.

The city says the issue mostly revolves around a federal law protecting the military, though a spokesman says the city has made progress auctioning off cars and tracking down registered owners.

But George Grace, owner of Pinky Tows, a sub-contractor for All-Island, says it's still a problem.

Grace says he's storing hundreds of abandoned military service member vehicles, many of which have been sitting in his lot for over three years.

He's losing hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

"It cost me $9,000 to store just that 150 cars a month -- property rent, insurance, and security," he said. "It's not worth it. So we contacted the contractor and the city. We're not going to continue."

The contract with All-Island Automotive expires Dec. 31, and the city says it has solicited new bids for a towing service contractor.

On paper, it seems like an issue between the city and a tow company, but Pinky Tows says if a contract isn't signed come Jan. 1, the public will feel it.

"As Joe Public, if there's no vendor, I don't know what's going to happen. Towing is going to be delayed," Grace said. "The untaxed vehicles that police call in are going to be left on the streets. The accidents are going to get slow delays, or the city's going to have to dish out a lot of money and bring in a contractor or come back to us and renegotiate something short-term."

The city tells us it proposed an emergency procurement to keep All-Island working with the city for six more months. Right now, those details are under wraps.

We're told All-Island currently pays the city $10,000 per month to be the exclusive contractor. In turn, the city pays All-Island the towing and mileage fees for any unclaimed vehicles.

We spoke with All-Island's owner by phone. He says he hasn't seen the emergency contract yet, but will think about it.

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