[ OUR OPINION ]
No easy solutions for
Waikiki parking problems
FINDING a parking space in Waikiki is evidently becoming the final frontier for those who live, work and play in Hawaii's premier tourist destination. Disputes arise one after the other as drivers vie for limited slots on the streets and in municipal lots.
A group is seeking to limit parking at the Honolulu Zoo to patrons and park users.
The latest conflict focuses on the spaces at the Honolulu Zoo at the Ewa end of Kapiolani Park, which is overseen by the city and the park's preservation society. It comes as a city project along Ala Wai Boulevard will eliminate about 60 of 250 spaces, upsetting residents who depend on street parking for their vehicles.
In discussions about updating the park's master plan, the society has told the city it will fight any increase of the number of spaces around the park and wants to limit access to the zoo lot to those who are patrons and park users. The society fears more land will be converted from grass to asphalt.
The group contends that too many people, such as hotel workers and residents, are taking advantage of the metered spaces and depriving park-users of slots. At 25 cents an hour, the lot offers some of the cheapest parking in Waikiki.
The problem has many sources.
Apartment and condominiums generally do not supply sufficient numbers of spaces for residents, and although the city requires a certain ratio of units to parking, occupants often have multiple vehicles. In this case, residents have created their own troubles, relying on the public streets to substitute for private garages. They should not expect the spaces to remain in place as the city continues to grow and as traffic needs and priorities change.
The Ala Wai project, essentially a beautification effort, will widen sidewalks and add a bicycle lane for safety and to encourage more people to pedal. The city has not abandoned residents, leasing space for parking in a nearby lot and adding more in others for a gain of 75 slots.
Meanwhile, people who work in Waikiki add to the scramble for tight space. Hotels and retail stores might not provide parking for employees or might charge fees that workers are disinclined to pay. Employers should consider solutions, such as shuttle service from lots outside the tourist district, arranging car pools or discounted bus passes.
The society, which has locked horns with the city on various park matters previously, wants an attendant to monitor the zoo lot to discourage non-park users. However, it would be difficult to determine who really goes through the zoo's turnstiles and whether those who say they are going to the park won't wander off to the beach, restaurants and stores.
There are no easy answers here. As long as city dwellers insist on automobile dependency, they will have to live with stalking for space.