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"Towing the Line" June 2009 issue

“My car was towed all the way to Haleiwa from Sand Island boat harbor on June 27. I was shocked that they would tow it way out there! They charged me $308.90, cash only, and were very rude and unprofessional. No paperwork, no itemized receipt of the outlandish charges, just, hand over the cash and here’s your car….”

—FROM AN ONLINE READER

 

Power to the People!

Towing companies were probably not thrilled with our story “Towing the Line,” in which contributing editor Sheila Sarhangi shed light on the rights of vehicle owners. She found out, for example, that if you arrive when your car is being hooked up to a tow truck, the tow company is required to drop your car without charge. Tow companies are also required to accept credit cards or have an ATM located on their premises. Since our story ran, the state’s Consumer Resource Center, Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, has received many calls from HONOLULU readers looking to file complaints about illegal towing practices. To read the whole story, check out "Towing the Line." If you have been overcharged, or unfairly towed, and would like to file a complaint against a tow company, call 587-3222.

 

“How Much Is Your Home Worth Now?” June 2009

Our feature looked at how the global recession has bruised Hawaii’s home prices.

I just finished reading “How Much Is Your Home Worth Now?” I don’t know if I should be happy or clinically depressed.  

“Hawai‘i’s real estate market has finally slowed down.” Yet, we remain one of the priciest markets in the country. Where else can you spend $500,000 for a house and it’s NOT in a desirable neighborhood?

Now, put 20 percent down (let’s use the $100,000 or $150,000 you just happen to have lying around) and add the cost of the loan. Increase your monthly payments by your homeowners/ hurricane insurance premiums, property taxes and ridiculously high electricity rates. Decrease your paycheck accordingly by increasingly confiscatory state taxes and county “fees” (no … we can’t have the government do with less). Throw in growing unemployment and an uncertain political and economic landscape. That doesn’t leave a whole lot in our wallets for much else, does it?

Those “opportunities for cool moves” the authors write about may have less to do with real estate transactions and more likely to mean that our children, as soon as they are able, will be moving right on out of here seeking opportunity, a higher standard of living and houses elsewhere.
 
I’m sure things will get better. Of course, everyone will be ecstatic when housing prices go up again.  That’s a good thing, isn’t it?

—MARK MIDDLETON, HAWAII KAI

 

Ahana koko lele

Our June story “Stopping the Traffic,” covered the Pacific Survivor Center. A source there wanted to clarify that the “thousands” that the nonprofit assists refers to victims in the entire Pacific region, including those in American Samoa, Guam and Saipan. And, although the majority of Pacific Survivor Center’s clients are adults, the nonprofit has also assisted child-trafficking victims here in Hawaii.

In our July “Best Lawyers in Hawai‘i,” we misspelled the name of attorney Michael Lau and incorrectly listed Bickerton, Lee, Dang & Sullivan. Also in our July issue, our photo of the Bishop Museum’s Hawaiian Hall incorrectly identified George Johnson. 

 

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