Business has right to curb parking
I work in the Kakaako area. In September, police began tagging cars on Pohukaina Street for "parking on sidewalk" under Section 15-14.1 of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu. According to one officer tagging illegally parked cars, it is all right to park as long as a path of at least three feet is maintained between the car and the street. On Sept. 26, I was parked in front of the ABC Store office, 766 Pohukaina St., and a note was placed on my car stating that I was on private property and would be towed from the next day on. I thought that the shoulders of Pohukaina Street are public property so I called ABC. I was told that if you draw an imaginary line from the fire hydrant and water pump fronting their building, that area between that line and their building is their property. I was told we could park on the other side of the imaginary line, but would probably be ticketed since we would be parked too close to the street. Is this area really ABC's property, or is this just their way of saving parking for their employees?
Answer: That area does belong to ABC and store officials began monitoring parking there after police, prompted by complaints, warned people and businesses it would begin citing vehicles that impeded pedestrian traffic.
It's the Honolulu Police Department's "mandate that we keep that area clear" enough so that pedestrians are able to pass by, said Newell Hirata, loss prevention manager for ABC Stores.
"We were told by HPD that before we do any towing (on private property), we do need to have signs posted," Hirata said.
So far, the company has not posted signs warning of towaways on its property.
"But we told the individual that if he insists on parking there, we will post a sign and we will tow him," Hirata said. "We just want to let people know that that's our private property."
In the past, "there was a lot of leeway (given to parked vehicles) primarily because there were only businesses in the area," Hirata said.
But now, schools and apartments have joined in the community mix.
"We had recent concerns and complaints regarding pedestrian safety -- pedestrians forced to walk on the roadway because cars were blocking the unimproved sidewalk," said Maj. Randy Macadangdang, of the Honolulu Police Department's Traffic Division.
It's a "tricky" situation, he noted, because private and public properties are involved, as well as "unimproved sidewalk" areas, instead of clearly delineated sidewalks.
Regarding ABC's or any other private property, it would be a civil matter regarding unauthorized parking, he said.
Along the city streets and right of way, instead of immediately citing vehicles for blocking pedestrian access, HPD instituted a "CAR" -- Community Area Responsibility -- project to first warn and educate motorists, Macadangdang said.
"The concern was that the cars were parked perpendicular to the buildings ... so their tail or front ends were sticking out into the roadway," he said. "So pedestrians had no place else to walk but the roadway, which is unsafe."
Macadangdang said it also was an unsafe situation for motorists driving by.
The week before Sept. 18, officers left leaflets on parked cars, informing drivers that they their vehicles would be subject to towing in the future, if they posed a pedestrian or traffic hazard, he said.
The following week, some vehicles continued to park illegally and were cited, although not towed.
"We're asking people to work with us, to work with the businesses," and to park parallel to the buildings so there is enough room for pedestrians to walk safely, Macadangdang said.
"We do know that parking is an issue, but we do have to be concerned about pedestrian safety, as well," he said.
Officers will be making "periodic checks to ensure that everyone is safe," he said.
Meanwhile, Hirata said ABC employees have already lost "a lot of parking because of the way HPD has instructed us" to park cars.
"This is our property, so we were told by HPD it's OK to park as long as you park in a certain manner," he said.
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