Parking in Kaimuki: Got a lot?
The district squares off on a solution to a perennial problem
A Kaimuki Neighborhood Board meeting tonight that will address the area's parking-space shortage is expected to attract a huge turnout of business people and residents. That is, if they can find parking.
The meeting is scheduled at dinnertime, from 7 to 9:30 p.m., when parking is at a premium at the city lot bordered by popular restaurants on Waialae, Harding, 11th and 12th avenues and street spaces.
The meeting will be held in the Liliuokalani Elementary School cafeteria, which has a small lot, about a block away from the proposed city parking lot under discussion.
Board Chairman Michael Abe said the board is proposing the construction of a three-story structure that would add 200 to 300 more spaces on the city lot. Currently there are 270 stalls that serve 115 businesses in the central parking area, he said. The new structure would also include a community meeting room and a police meeting room on the ground floor.
Abe, who said he expects a big crowd tonight, cited a "high frustration level" among business owners, who finally decided to "bite the bullet" and stomach the dip in business that construction will bring.
He said he anticipates the parking structure to cost $7.5 million -- to be paid for by bonds -- but that the revenue it will generate will more than pay for its construction. He said the city has about $1.3 million set aside for improvements that could be used to start the design phase.
The current parking lot generates $900,000 per fiscal year, and he expects a larger structure to more than double the amount, he added.
According to the minutes of the Kaimuki Neighborhood Board in January, the results of a recent survey taken by the Kaimuki Business and Professional Association, answered by 38 members, indicated that 34 members felt parking was insufficient, and 23 said their businesses were affected; 21 said a parking structure was the solution.
Twenty would be in favor of valet parking, while 17 would not. Eleven would be willing to pay for double-decking a portion of the parking lot, while 25 would not.
The association's survey also noted that 31 customers have complained about the lot. An informal Star-Bulletin survey of parking lot users this week found similar sentiments.
Mele Evans of Kaimuki said she parks in the lot about once a week, and would come more often if searching for a parking space weren't so difficult. "Weekends are the worst, and after 2 p.m. when people get off work -- there's a bar here, too," she said.
Mihoko Mishina of Waikiki said parking is not only hard to find, it is expensive. She and another woman came to Kaimuki mainly for the Gymboree Play and Music program for their children once a week.
"You can find a space as long as you don't come around lunch time," the woman said.
Marie Hatfield said she usually takes her father to Happy Day restaurant about twice a month, but he couldn't go because she couldn't find a space.
Abe said the board also wants to reinstate the now-defunct trolley system that connected the Waikiki, Kapahulu and Makiki neighborhoods to Kaimuki to ease the pressure of finding more parking. The open-air trolley was a novelty that contributed to the small-town charm of Kaimuki that businesses and residents want to preserve, he said.
"Kaimuki is probably the only small-town neighborhood left in the city," Abe said.