Since early March, the state Department of Transportation has been operating “hand by hand” With the Maui Police Department to crack down on peer-to-peer car rental companies operating without permits at Kahului Airport.
The problem has become more visible in part because of recent car thefts. US State Department spokesman Jay Cunningham said that in the past three months, there have been 28 car thefts at the airport, and “Many of these thefts were peer-to-peer parking rental cars with lock boxes marked on them, or unlocked doors with keys left in.”
He added that the police and the airport security team are trying to raise awareness that it is illegal to do business at the airport without a permit and they are trying to reduce the peer-to-peer parking at the airport that operates car parks. distances from others.
Peer-to-peer car rental includes private car owners who rent their cars using internet and mobile applications. On Maui, Turo and other car-sharing companies have grown in popularity as a pent-up desire to travel after the initial waves of COVID drove more visitors to the island. This resulted in a lack of commercial rental cars — some of which were shipped off the island during the pandemic — and prompted residents to rent their own.
A spokesperson for the Maui Police Department confirmed earlier this month that they are working with the Department of Transportation and that the department will continue to cite offenders at the request of the Department of Transportation. Police noticed that there was a sign on the robotic arm in the public parking lot detailing a Hawaiian law that prohibited unauthorized commercial activity at the airport.
Some Maui residents who have peer-to-peer vehicle rentals through Turo’s car-sharing marketplace say they do their best to comply with the law, and that unlicensed owners give legal people a bad name. But they say they need more help from Turo and the state.
Maui residents Karisa and John Baker of Chosun Rentals say that last year they obtained permission from the Department of Transportation for a shuttle service that would pick up Toro customers at the airport. They said the process took time, but they wanted to comply with the law.
One hurdle they still face, however, is that the Turo booking site still offers options for service at Kahului Airport, which has caused some confusion and frustration.
Carissa Baker said reservations were canceled when customers discovered many were off-site, which they clearly disclose. She said most guests understand that but there are a few who still want airport service.
Some customers also asked why other friends who booked with Turo could receive service at the airport, prompting the bakers to explain state laws to those customers.
The Bakers have over 70 vehicles in their stand, some of which are owned by others but operated by the Bakers as part of their fleet.
They have lots near the airport to house the vehicles, Carissa Baker said, and they’ve also offered their services and lots for rent to help other Turo owners who may be stuck finding options about what to do with their cars.
She added that she understood the frustration with the airport’s limited parking, with visitors, residents and others jostling for spots.
Kahului resident Lucky Joy Dumlao and owner of Turo also crossed the paths of angry customers, who yelled at her and slammed her when they found out there was no direct rental service at the airport.
She said she feels pressure both from customers who want airport service — as offered on the Turo website — and from the state, which is cracking down on peer-to-peer businesses operating at airports.
“I was breaking down and crying” Dumlao said about the retreat from all sides.
Domla said her company, GJ Property, is also interested in cars from other owners. She said the goal for most people is to make extra income to help supplement wages from their other jobs as well as to put their kids through college, and that they don’t rent out their cars to be rich.
“We make money for the better, not for the worse.” she added.
Dumlau admitted that she has clients park their cars in the airport parking lot, but said there are no lock boxes that would entice criminals and that she picks up cars quickly so they aren’t left in the parking lot for hours.
She added that the police also came to her home to tell her that her Turo vehicles could not park at the airport. But by that time she had already moved the rental cars from her place.
Dumlao now has to rent off-site lots to keep cars away from the airport and her home, where the cars she stored at her home have also drawn complaints. But she said the $7,000 per month rent is high for small businesses trying to generate a little more income for working families.
Turo did not respond to emails for comment.
However, the country is hopeful that a solution can be found in light of the success at other airports.
“We’ve achieved success in Lihue by making it easier for Turo’s access to off-site property owners to rent out spaces to park their rental cars,” Cunningham said. “We hope we can reach a similar agreement in Kahului.”
* Author Melissa Tangi can be reached at [email protected].