Volunteers cite scofflaws in special stalls
Every school day between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m., the two handicap parking stalls at Noelani School in Manoa are occupied, usually by able-bodied people. This, in spite of the numerous "regular" stalls available in Noelani's parking lot. Recently, I noticed an able-bodied mother with no disabled parking placard park her SUV in one of the handicap parking stalls, unload baseball gear and scurry with her child to baseball practice. Her vehicle was there more than an hour, forcing an elderly woman, using a walker and with a parking placard, to park about 75 feet away. I have reported these parking violations to HPD but was told officers might not be able to respond to "nonemergency" complaints in a timely fashion. I have never seen anyone being issued a citation at Noelani. The result is that these scofflaws are becoming more numerous and bold. Warning letters from HPD appear to have no effect, since, at HPD's suggestion, I have reported license plate numbers and other information to the Traffic Division. Is there anything else that can be done to enforce the law? My goal is to allow those who truly have a need to use these stalls to access them. What I am finding is that a law that lacks enforcement is like having no law at all.
Answer: We can understand your frustration.
People often complain that merchants or other businesses don't do anything to enforce the parking restrictions. But only police or volunteers in the Honolulu Police Department's Disabled Parking Enforcement Program can enforce the law.
And the law is being enforced, said Sgt. Kevin Oshiro, of the Traffic Division, who took exception to your last comment.
Although we probably all have seen violators parked in designated disabled parking stalls, it's not true that they all get away.
Last year, enforcement volunteers handed out 1,900 citations, Oshiro said. That doesn't include citations handed out by officers. With a fine of $260, the citation probably made many think twice about where they park, Oshiro said.
Regarding the situation at Noelani, Oshiro said patrol officers and volunteers were sent to make checks after receiving your complaint. But no violations were observed during the period you cited.
Oshiro said checks would be made periodically.
"Unfortunately, like every other crime, people are going to try and get away with it," he said. "We're not going to catch them all, all the time, but we will catch enough most of the time. You'd think people would have the common decency not to do it, but it's amazing what people will do every day."
Oshiro also described the law as a strong one, so that even if a driver tries to elude getting cited by driving away without a citation, HPD can mail it to the offender, based on the license number.
Meanwhile, he said to continue calling police at 911 if you see violations. If officers are in the area and nothing else is going on, they will respond, he said.
Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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