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On Guam: 'No one's ever been successfully prosecuted for abandoning a vehicle'

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HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Some 700 abandoned vehicles, more than 1,000 used tires and hundreds of white goods, including washers and water heaters, have so far been removed from Guam villages using portions of the annual vehicle registration fees that motorists pay.

The removal efforts continue amid a Covid-19 lockdown because mayors are racing to use the funds before fiscal year 2020 ends Sept. 30, according to Mayors' Council of Guam Vice President Robert Hofmann, the mayor of Sinajana.

Hofmann on Thursday gave the Guam Visitors Bureau an update on the ongoing removal program for abandoned vehicles and other recyclables, which ties in with islandwide safety and beautification efforts.

The priority is to remove abandoned vehicles that pose risks to motorists on the road, he said.

The crews removing recyclables are now in Tamuning and will soon go back to other key areas, Hofmann said.

Sinajana alone removed 53 abandoned vehicles from an area about a mile wide. The bigger villages, such as Dededo, he said, face more daunting tasks.

The Guam Environmental Protection Agency released $466,000 from the Recycling Revolving Fund to mayors to get on with the removals of such recyclable materials as abandoned vehicles, used tires and household goods in July – two months before the end of the fiscal year.

Several abandoned vehicles filled with white goods, metallic waste and household trash are scattered along Wusstig Road in Dededo on  July 31, 2020. Photo by Dontana Keraskes/The Guam Daily Post

 

‘It's an enforcement issue’

GVB Chairman Sonny Ada asked about the laws against the buildup of used vehicles on peoples' property and public spaces.

"It's an enforcement issue," Hofmann said.

The law itself, he said, requires "so many government agencies" to participate, including the Department of Revenue and Taxation, the Department of Public Health and Social Services and the Guam EPA, on top of police and mayors.

Hofmann said there's a push to make the laws governing abandoned vehicles more enforceable.

"We're actually working with the Legislature to close all these crazy loopholes because no one's ever been successfully prosecuted for abandoning a vehicle and leaving it," he said. "People are stockpiling it and when these programs come around, one house takes up the whole bin and takes up all the purchase orders just to clean that one area."

Senators also proposed in the fiscal 2021 budget about $1.3 million in additional funding to remove abandoned vehicles because "mayors can only do so much with the $400,000" that Guam EPA approved, Hofmann said.

Restroom renovations

Hofmann told tourism officials that U.S. Department of the Interior-funded projects involving public parks and beach restroom renovations are moving along.

Of the 20 original Phase 1 projects, 18 are "pretty much in completion phase," he said.

Nine are already completed, including the restroom renovations at Matapang Beach, Ypao Beach, Padre Palomo Park, Statue of Liberty Park, Angel Santos Park and Fort Santa Agueda Park, Hofmann said.

Other restroom renovation projects are pending final inspection, he said, including those at the Inarajan Pools, Talofofo Bay and Ipan Beach.

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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