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Zoo parking lot has temporary escape from fee

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    Free parking at the zoo is ending Thursday with the installation of a new pay station.
    Shari Inayoshi loads her van at the Honolulu Zoo parking lot, where spaces have been numbered in preparation for a new station where drivers will pay for parking, replacing the old parking meters.?

When Nuuanu resident Shari Inayoshi parked her minivan in a stall at the Honolulu Zoo parking lot at 11 a.m. yesterday, she noticed something was missing: parking meters.

"I was confused," Inayoshi said.

New signs were posted on wooden poles in the parking lot that read, "Pay Parking by License Plate 24 Hrs/Day, 7 Days/Week." But no pay station or other system was in sight.

Fearing her minivan would get towed if she left it to head to the zoo with her two sons, Inayoshi asked a passer-by about the parking issue. She learned it was apparently free until a pay box is installed.

For the past week, Inayoshi and other residents and tourists have enjoyed free parking at the zoo parking lot after the city removed the meters to make way for the new pay station to be installed Thursday.

That day, officials will announce details on the new system, according to city spokesman Bill Brennan. Until then, parking will remain free.

The parking rate at the zoo is $1.00 per hour, an increase from 25 cents that took effect last year on July 1. It was the first rate increase in approximately 30 years. More than 200 stalls are available in the lot.

In recent days, frequent parking lot users noticed painted stall numbers and a square concrete slab positioned in a grassy area near the zoo’s lot entrance. A new, covered sign also was erected near the entrance.

Since the rate increase, the lot remains a popular spot for those who venture to Waikiki to visit the zoo, beaches, restaurants and stores.

Correction: The parking rate at the Honolulu Zoo is $1.00 an hour. An earlier version of this story posted on Tuesday stated the parking rate is $1.50 an hour.

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