Waikiki parking might entail more fees and fewer free spots
A Waikiki group is proposing sweeping changes to parking in the state’s No. 1 tourist district, including raising the hourly rate for metered parking to $3 from $1.50.
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A Waikiki group is proposing sweeping changes to parking in the state’s No. 1 tourist district, including raising the hourly rate for metered parking to $3 from $1.50, extending the metered parking hours to 10 p.m. instead of 6 p.m., converting about 300 free parking spaces to metered and issuing reduced-rate permits to Waikiki residents.
Proponents say those and other changes would result in the annual collection of nearly $3.8 million, or seven times the current revenues of about $560,000.
The ideas, which are spearheaded by the Waikiki Transportation Management Association (WTMA), will be discussed Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the President Thomas Jefferson Elementary School cafeteria on Kapahulu Avenue.
“Free parking is no parking. You walk down any street now, it’s full,” said Rick Egged, president of the Waikiki Improvement Association, which oversees the WTMA. “In the last 15 years Waikiki has experienced incredible new development and revitalization. … More activity and a finite amount of curb and street require better management to prevent chaos.”
Waikiki has about 1,000 street parking spaces, of which about 300 are metered, according to the WTMA.
The WTMA also would look at easing traffic by creating a paid permit system for commercial users with scheduled loading and unloading.
“Waikiki traffic is really bad right now. There’s a lot of deliveries into Waikiki. Most of the time, they can’t find a space and keep going around and around,” said Gareth Sakakida, managing director of the Hawaii Transportation Association, which has about 380 members statewide.
Honolulu police regularly check Waikiki traffic complaint hot spots to keep complaints to a minimum, said HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu.
“Complaints are generally related to the blocking of traffic to load and unload tourists or freight. Delivery trucks, tour buses and taxis will block lanes of traffic in front of hotels or businesses because the loading zones are full,” Yu said. “We have periodic complaints about the loading zone in front of the Duty Free on Royal Hawaiian Avenue. Tour buses, shuttles and trolleys sometimes park there when they are not actively loading or unloading.”
Yu said HPD also gets complaints regarding the freight loading zone in front of the Outrigger Main and Sheraton Moana being used for deliveries outside of designated hours.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration introduced Bill 12 on Jan. 27 to tackle Waikiki transportation issues. That bill would increase parking rates in the downtown, civic center and Waikiki areas. Additionally, it would expand Waikiki parking zone limits to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. currently.
But Egged said rather than leaving the Waikiki parking and traffic issues to the city, a transportation district should be created instead. It would be modeled after the Waikiki business and beach improvement districts, and would improve on city efforts by addressing cost and convenience concerns from Waikiki residents and businesses, he said.
Egged said the district would be funded by a portion of Waikiki curb and parking fees. It would be governed by a board of directors made up of a cross section of city government and Waikiki stakeholders, including the chairman of the Waikiki Neighborhood Board, who would have a voting seat.
Many details are yet to be worked out. But Egged said the WTMA already has a track record in working to solve Waikiki transportation issues. The group partnered with DFS Galleria and the city in March 2016 to establish the beginnings of an expanded, 365-foot-long, three-minute commercial passenger loading zone on Royal Hawaiian Avenue, complete with new signage and monitoring.
Supporters of the Waikiki transportation district include the Hawaii Transportation Association, E Noa Corp., Royal Star Hawaii, JTB Hawaii, Roberts Hawaii, Kobayashi Travel Services and Polynesian Adventure Tours.
“We believe rather than leaving things to a larger city plan, it makes more sense to create a Waikiki-specific plan,” Egged said.
Waikiki Neighborhood Board Chairman Bob Finley said he’s opposed to the city transportation bill, which he believes would create hardship for Waikiki’s lower-paid residents.
“I support a variable parking rate that includes consideration for our residents,” Finley said.
Sakakida of the Hawaii Transportation Association said he favors creating a Waikiki transportation district.
“The city has a lot of things to manage in their jurisdiction. You can’t expect them to have total focus on Waikiki no matter how important it is for the economic engine,” he said. “Why not approach the possibility of having the people who are really attuned to try and do something?”