Kapiolani parking raises hackles

Freshman Councilman Stanley Chang is in hot water with some of his Waikiki constituents for being slow to react to the Carlisle administration’s proposal to substantially raise parking rates around Kapiolani Park.

The administration is seeking to collect $2 million a year for park maintenance by raising meter rates around Kapiolani and Aala parks from 50 cents an hour to $1 and requiring that the meters be fed 24/7 instead of just during daytime. The higher fees would presumably be extended in the future to other parks such as Ala Moana.

The increases drew some opposition from Oahu residents who use the park and nearby beach as a place to enjoy relatively inexpensive time with friends and families.

But most of the outrage came from residents of the condos that surround Kapiolani Park, who have few other places to park.

The higher rates — and especially extending them all night — could cost them hundreds of dollars a month, which they regard as an unfairly steep budget-balancing burden placed on only a few.

Chang threw in with the opponents and announced this week that he had persuaded his colleagues to recommit Bill 30 to committee at their meeting today, but the critics complain that he was uncommunicative until now and voted for the measure on the first two readings.

They aren’t convinced that Chang’s colleagues won’t throw the junior councilman under a bus and plan to show up at the meeting to apply pressure.

Chang’s handling of the matter seems less than deft and it’ll be interesting to see if it’s just inexperience or the beginning of a pattern.

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9 Comments on “Kapiolani parking raises hackles”

  1. WooWoo Says:

    I’m a frequent Kapiolani park user and I would be happy to pay the I creased rate if the money really does go directly to park maintenance. If it gets slushed off, no way.

    I don’t think that the nearby residents have a strong argument. The city doesn’t owe them cheap residential parking. The parking is for beach, zoo, and park users. It would be nice to see a politician stand up to a small group of vocal constituents and lay a dose of truth on them.

  2. Earl of Sandwich Says:

    I agree with WooWoo – which I admittedly don’t do very often. 🙂 An extra 50 cents and hour isn’t that big of a deal, as I’m usually just happy to have found a parking space.

    As for the residents, I sympathize with them, but they bought their homes knowing parking was tight. Either pay for a stall somewhere, give up the car, or move.

  3. Richard Gozinya Says:

    I’m with Woo2 and the Earl. I use the parks a lot since I am such a cheap buggah. Raising the rates makes sense when we need more revenue to care for these precious lands.

    The but (and it’s a big but like mine)is that the funds be used efficiently and for the specific purpose of park maintenance.

  4. Kolea Says:

    I guess I am the odd man out. (But that’s not unusual). I love Kapiolani Park. It is an hurried, unhassled oasis in Honolulu. I enjoy swimming to the windsock in the evenings and meeting up with old friends. I confess to sometimes drinking a little wine as the sun goes down– and without paying the high tariff charged those a few feet mauka of us at the Hau Tree Lanai. (Because they pay protection money, they remain unhassled. We are required to be discreet. It’s a trade-off.)

    First, the easy one: nighttime parking. It is friggin’ ridiculous to charge for nighttime parking at K Park. What harm do nearby residents inflict on the rest of us by being able to park there after hours? It is not as if they are depriving other people of the parking spaces. Hey, I’m a great believer in “class warfare” when there is a valid point to it. But this seems like a gratuitous gesture to “stick it to” the “rich people” on the Gold Coast.

    Raising the fees? What is the rationale? If the idea is to ensure parking spaces open up more often to allow more people a chance to use the parks, that strikes me as a valid goal. Hopefully, those who plan to stay all day or for whom the raised fees are too high, will still be able to find free parking along the other side of the park.

    If they move to the proposed “high tech” parking meters, which allow people to remotely pay to extend their parking, that undercuts to rationale of encouraging turnover.

    If the purpose of raising parking fees is to raise more cash for the City’s operations, that is also valid. BUT, we gotta recognize Kapiolani Park is mostly used by local Town residents for our R&R. Some of us do not have the luxury of being able to walk to a free beach, like residents of Kailua, Kahala, the North Shore, etc.

    For many of us, this move is an encroachment on the longheld (and widely shared) belief that “the best things in life are free,” if we keep our needs simple and natural.

    But perhaps Hawaii should only be enjoyed by those who can afford to be constantly “nickel and dimed” for each breath we take, for each view we enjoy, for each time we enter the ocean?

    I am glad Stanley Chang has decided to stand against this bill.

  5. ForwardObserver Says:

    I am in general agreement with the previous comments but would also add that the “Kapiolani Park” paid parking proposal could become the model for a much broader plan that could provide a solution for several problems that occur in many neighborhoods. The free and unrestricted parking around Kapiolani park is one reason why many homeless people tend to remain in that area. Paid parking, while not intended to prevent the homeless from using the park, would make it less attractive to set up a permanent camp there. As for area residents, while there may be no official entitlement to free parking for residents I think that most homeowners consider the the City owned setback and curbside parking area immediately fronting their homes as being there for their own use. The problem at Kapiolani Park and in other areas is that since there are no restrictions there are always some individuals who tend to abuse this unofficial understanding and habitually use more spaces than most people would agree is reasonable. The bottom line is that the parking around Kapiolani Park is there primarily to allow those who want to use the park. A solution that could be applied in the case of Kapiolani Park as well as other areas would be for the City to establish a permit parking system. Residents who live in the immediate area could be allowed, say two free permits, and could be offered additional permits at in graduated fee amounts. Such a system could be utilized in other urban areas throughout the City where parking is at a premium.

  6. Richard Gozinya Says:

    Kolea said: “Raising the fees? What is the rationale?”

    You know what I always say: There are people who want government services but are unwilling to pay for them. Plus or minus a few hundred words.


  7. Kolea Says:

    Cute, Richard.

    But I was asking a sincere question. Both “raising revenues” and “ensuring turnover of parking spots” are legitimate goals. I am asking so they can be evaluated. If the intention is to treat the parking as a “user fee” for the park and beach, many people would find this offensive from several angles.

    If the parks are to be paid for by people who need to drive to them, then that means they are subsidized for nearby residents. Does Kapiolani Park belong to all the people of Honolulu, or is it a taxpayer provided amenity for nearby residents, sort of an extension of their condo’s “common area”?

    For many of us who live in the “extended ahupuaa,” this is our place to stop off at pau hana, run the park, swim to the windsock and catch up with friends at the end of the work day.

    There are many times I have treaded water outside the channel, watching the golden light reflected off the Waikiki hotels and felt “life is good.” Whether you are rich, poor or in between, we are all equally able to enjoy that beauty.

    Frankly, the rest of Waikiki sucks and I only venture into it when work takes me there. This is OUR end of Waikiki.

    To the extent the policy is to ensure people free up parking places and allow other people to use the beach and park, great. If they are using it to raise money for general city expenses, I only ask they weigh that against the needs, perhaps even the RIGHT of Hawaii residents to have access to the beach without being charged for the “privilege.”

    YMMV, of course.

  8. zzzzzz Says:

    Everyone’s made some good points.

    The new system would probably collect more money even if the hourly rates aren’t raised, because we won’t be able to use the previous parkers’ leftover time, and also because of the minimum charge (we can no longer just put in a dime while we wait to pick up someone). Since the C&C needs more money, this makes sense.

    I agree with Kolea that one goal of paid parking should be to make parking more available, and making it easy for people to add time remotely is not consistent with this, not to mention that it is not necessarily consistent with increasing income. If it’s not easy to add minutes, parkers are likely to pay for more time than they’ll use, and the new system allows the C&C to double dip those extra minutes.

    I agree with Woo^2 (and thus EoS and RG) that nearby residents aren’t owed free parking. Perhaps one compromise is to have lower rates for overnight parking.

    At a higher level, I support increases in the cost of driving, whether it be increased parking costs or increased gas taxes, as a way to help decrease our dependence on cars and thus our dependence on imported oil, especially if those increases are due to taxes that are offset by cuts in other taxes, e.g., eliminating GET on food and drugs, or raising the standard deduction.

    We don’t need a train to get people out of cars; raising the cost of gas a few bucks a gallon and making people pay to park (or have to own their own parking spaces) will get more people out of their cars far faster than a train.

  9. Anne Clarkin Says:

    I live around Kapiolani park, I’m one of 16 lucky people at Tropic Seas, Inc. who has a parking space, but there are 48 other people in our building alone who don’t and until I aged into a parking space (it took three years for me because a lot of people died around the time I moved in, some people have waited up to 13 years), I circled the park a lot especially Friday and Saturday nights. Yes there are several wealthy people at TS, however there are far many more who are not, who bought their places years ago, and are just keeping up with ever rising maintenance fees for many of these old buildings When those apartments were constructed (most over 50 years ago), there was ample free parking around the park and streets. The buildings were allowed to be constructed with inadequate parking space, apparently because city planners then didn’t envision the current situation. Many of us are not owners but renters and most rentals do not include a parking space here.

    There was a huge controversy when the original meters went in due to the provisions of the Kapiolani Park trust and just 1 ½ years ago that fee was doubled. Now it’s proposed that it double again and apply 24/7 instead of just the daytime and bill 30 also envisages the placement of meters or “pay for parking” all around Kapiolani park as well as other parks and beach parks. For hundreds of people living around Kapiolani park, that would amount to $720 a month. For us it’s not just about putting in a four quarters for an hour visit to the park, to play tennis or go to the beach. That is a huge hit for any budget. How about a system, similar to San Francisco, where residents proving they live in an area pay a certain amount for a decal that can be affixed to the bumper?

    Now, forgetting the residential aspect, let’s not make it so that we are charging people to go to the beach or public parks, which is really what’s being done here. I know many people here are working two or three jobs to support their families here. Beaches and parks are free now, therefore affordable for everyone. That’s what is unique and fabulous about Hawaii versus other states, the beaches and parks are public, anyone can go now, affluent or not! I grew up at Sandy’s and Makapuu and Waimanalo Beach. While my parents weren’t poor, they had 5 kids and a day at the beach or park was fun and free. Let’s keep it that way. Installing meters at those places is actually an entry fee, no matter what it’s called. We pay for the upkeep of beaches and parks through our taxes already. We don’t want to end up (like some places on Maui) where only the wealthy can afford to go to certain beaches because of the parking. Pretty soon we’ll be paying for how much air we breathe.

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