The Honolulu Traffic Code says street parking isn’t allowed within 4 feet of a driveway.
A bill moving through the Honolulu City Council would allow an exception, under a pilot project, to that law in one tightly packed Ewa Villages neighborhood.
Bill 4 allows vehicles to get within 4 feet of public and private driveways along Halolani and Maliko streets but not encroach on driveways. The bill is up for a second reading and a public hearing at Wednesday’s 10 a.m. Council meeting at Kapolei Hale.
The measure received preliminary approval from the Council Transportation Committee on Thursday.
Councilman Ron Menor, who represents the area, told committee members that he introduced the bill at the request of residents who say street parking has become an ever-growing problem.
“If you drive around those streets, you’ll find that the neighborhood is very compact where the driveways are really close to each other,” Menor said. As a result, residents have been cited by police for committing parking infractions.
Because the city-sponsored subdivision was designed as affordable housing, the development was exempted from standard requirements including distances between homes, he said.
The pilot project would allow the parking exemption to run through Dec. 31, 2018. “We’re establishing a very limited, temporary pilot program,” Menor said. He stressed that the bill does not allow vehicles to actually encroach on driveways.
Davina Elgarico said during her testimony before the Transportation Committee on Thursday that she and her family moved into a new Ewa Villages home in 1986. “We felt blessed when we moved in, but I don’t think they took into consideration our kids growing up — and we really have no place to park.”
Elgarico said now that her three sons are adults, the family has four vehicles which cannot fit into a two-stall carport. To park legally, they park in nearby neighborhoods, she said. “We literally have to walk home from another subdivision because we have no place to park.”
The area is known as the Ho‘okea subdivision, but also as Ewa Expandable Homes because it was designed for homeowners wishing to enlarge their homes for future generations, Elgarico said.
Only one resident in the area gets upset when parking laws are violated and calls Honolulu police to cite drivers, Elgarico said. Officers, on the other hand, are empathetic and will knock on doors asking people to move their vehicles before they get ticketed, she said.
Honolulu Police Department Traffic Division Maj. Darren Izumo told those at the Transportation Committee on Thursday that he was once a patrolman in Ewa Villages. “I feel your pain,” Izumo said. But from the police standpoint, he said, the parking law exists to protect sightlines for the safety of pedestrians and motorists.
Izumo said those who park on the streets in that neighborhood tend to commit other violations, including parking within 10 feet of a fire hydrant and within 30 feet of a stop sign.
Because there appears to be only one person in the neighborhood who calls to complain about infractions, HPD has made it a point to go in to cite vehicles only when that person calls in a complaint, Izumo said. “If we failed to take action, then he’d have a valid complaint that the officer was derelict and failed to cite vehicles.”
He added, “Except for this one individual, nobody complains. … They’ve fully accepted the fact that this is our neighborhood and we’re going to kokua each other and allow each other to park.”
Izumo warned that the dilemma in Elgarico’s neighborhood is similar to other areas in Waipahu, Kaneohe and elsewhere. “I don’t know if you’re opening yourselves up to those other areas also.”
Elgarico was the only resident who testified in person. Several of her neighbors submitted written testimony in support.
State Rep. Matthew Lopresti (D, Ewa Villages-Ocean Pointe-Ewa Beach) testified for the bill Thursday. “Over the years what’s happened is these people literally have nowhere to park,” he said. “Their driveways oftentimes are filled up. And they have kids and multiple generations.”
Lopresti said he understands the concern police have that visibility could be impaired if vehicles are allowed to park within 4 feet of a driveway. But in this neighborhood “it’s not a through street. … You couldn’t go over 25 (mph) if you wanted to,” he said.
“We need to make sure, obviously, that emergency vehicles can access areas for ambulance and fire, but these poor people, the city, long before any of you and long before me, the city allowed for this development to be made in the way that it was. The houses are so close, you can reach out and touch the next house. They’re like 4 feet apart, so there’s nowhere to put any cars.”
Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga suggested that one solution might be to designate the area as having private roads; police normally do not cite standard parking violations in such areas.
Councilwoman Kymberly Pine, who represents other sections of Ewa Beach, said the Ewa Villages parking situation “really reflects the state of Hawaii right now and the lack of affordable housing.”
Where it once was typical for two or three generations to live in one house, “now there’s four generations living under one roof in many of our districts, and no one ever planned (for) that and that’s why there’s no parking in some of those areas,” she said. “I certainly want to relieve the stress that people already have in their lives by just allowing them to be able to know that their cars are not going to be towed when they park in front of their homes.”