The owner of the agricultural lot that some call the Junk Yard on the Hill has finally regained control of his land and is in the process of trying to clean up the mess left behind by the bearded guy who referred to himself as Santa Claus. It has not been easy and it will not be easy.
The eviction case, known as Charles Huang vs. David Douglas Kromer, began on March 8, 2016 with the filing of a complaint for summary possession. After numerous motions and document filings, court appearances, hearings and continuances, the parties agreed to a settlement on September 13, 2016.
According to the agreement, Kromer would have 90 days to hold auctions or otherwise dispose of the hundreds of vehicles and other personal property, and to vacate the land. He would have an additional 30 days to remove any remaining solid materials. Upon completion of an inventory within 10 days of the agreement, the owner would pay the tenant $5000. The owner also agreed to pay $35,000, proportionally, to Kromer as the property was removed. Kromer agreed to vacate the premises within 120 days after October 11, 2016. The owner also agreed to waive $12,000 in back rent.
Unfortunately, the defendant continued to oppose motions to enforce the settlement, filed a petition for recusal of the judge and ultimately to try to stifle his eviction by declaring bankruptcy. While most of the legal issues are resolved in favor of the property owner, remediation of the property will be a huge challenge.
The Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting and the Hawaii Department of Health have both levied fines against the property for the unpermitted activities and concerns about leaking fluids from Kromer’s actions. Delays in evicting the tenant resulted in increased fines the owner will need to address.
There remain 350 assorted vehicles on the property. The timing could not be worse for disposing these vehicles because the cost of scrap metal is at historic lows and there is now only one company still accepting vehicles for disposal. Meanwhile storage yards around Oahu are full and the City’s abandoned vehicle program is backlogged with nowhere to place newly found vehicles.
Passersby may have noticed the guinea grass has been cut and there is some activity to bring order to the chaos. If anyone has an idea on how to dispose of 350 vehicles, some of which could be operational, please let me know. The owner, who lives on Oahu, is very interested in finding a reputable and legal solution.