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UNDER THE SUN


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Payment to park at the park is an imposition on paradise

By Cynthia Oi

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:44 p.m. HST, Jun 09, 2011



Growing up in Hawaii, June presented an interlude.

Classes had ended and structured activities like summer school, church vacation programs and, as we moved into adolescence, requisite summer jobs had yet to begin.

The favored pastime in those teenage years was to pile into the available family car of a friend who had a driver's license and go beach.

Stocked with thermos bottles of Exchange orangeade, musubi and leftovers raided from the fridge, goza, old towels and slippers, we'd spend the day playing trumps between cooling swims and talking, talking, talking about nothing and everything. It was cheap and wonderful fun.

Sliding coins into a parking meter for a parking space near the Diamond Head concession at Ala Moana beach would not have flattened lean wallets by much, but a constant, good thing about life in the islands would not have been free.

Prattlers of negativism, particularly those who dislike local nostalgia they do not share, will huff that beaches and parks aren't unencumbered by costs and that people who use them ought to pay to play, as if surfers, paddlers, sand-scooping kids with grandpa, lap swimmers, picnickers and fishers don't shell out taxes.

Even if there aren't fences and turnstiles surrounding the shorelines, as do beaches in other countries and states, feeding a parking meter is really an admission charge. Parking, or more accurately, the strategic lack thereof, is already a tried-and-true method of deterring non-guests from resort and hotel sands.

I don't think it was the City Council's intent to install beach meters to keep out the riffraff, as it is in some exclusive Long Island towns where a car must have a pricey sticker displayed to avoid tickets and tows. Bill 30 was supposedly aimed at doubling parking fees in the Kapiolani and Aala parks areas, requiring meters be fed day and night and restricting parking at the zoo to four hours.

But as written, knowingly or not, it gave the city blanket authorization to install meters at any and all parks, charge $1 an hour 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The measure, which the Council has since yanked from consideration, would have culled beachgoers had it been approved.

If meters were put in, workers who want to eat their plate lunches at Ewa Beach Park would have had to pay. Shooting hoops at Manoa district park would have cost some change as would letting Pearl City kids run off some energy at Pacheco park.

No doubt city government is scrounging for money. Mayor Peter Carlisle made clear in his assessment of the city's financial situation in February that extracting more revenue from parking was in his sights, outlining improved technology that allows credit card payments and creating a "single-source responsibility center" to manage parking.

That's all well and good, but slotting in nickels and dimes or sliding plastic before taking a post-work stroll in the sand to watch the sunset steals a little bit more of the fast-diminishing pleasure of living in Hawaii.

———

Cynthia Oi can be reached at coi@staradvertiser.com.






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