Ala Wai harbor parking fees planned despite objections
State officials announced yesterday plans to charge fees for parking at the Ala Wai Boat Harbor amid objections from tenants and recreational users.
Parking in the heliport area will remain free for recreational and harbor use, while parking in the marina will be subject to a nominal fee, said Ed Underwood, administrator of the state Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, at last night's meeting at the Hawaii Prince Hotel. There are more than 1,000 stalls in the area.
"This is going to take a rule rewrite to get this done," he said, adding that the division will present an amendment as soon as July to the Board of Land and Natural Resources to change parking rules at state harbors.
Officials plan to change the parking system at Ala Wai in response to public objections about non-harbor users, such as construction workers and hotel employees, parking in stalls, and possibly illegal activities at night, Underwood said.
State officials said a majority, 58 percent, of the 560 harbor tenants supported parking management at the harbor in a survey sent out earlier this year. Thirty percent responded to the survey.
"The survey came in favorable," Underwood said, adding that the Boating Division will move forward with amending Department of Land and Natural Resources rules.
Provisions in the Ala Wai parking plan include management of the lot around the clock by a parking company.
Several pay booths will be installed around the parking lot where motorists could pay for their stall using cash, check or even cell phones, which can be used to pay for parking while out at sea.
The heliport would be restricted to "recreational and harbor use only" with no overnight parking. Non-harbor users would be subject to towing.
Recreational users and tenants of the harbor questioned the need to charge for parking.
"You're not fixing the problem. We should just leave it alone and put signs up to use it as ocean recreational use only," Melissa Ling-Ing said to applause from the audience. Ling-Ing, a Kailua resident who parks at the harbor to surf, said the 130 free stalls at the heliport will be insufficient for the surfers, paddlers and fishermen using the area.
State officials said they did not know how much the parking fees at the 800 marina stalls would be, but said they would be comparable to other county or state fees, not at the market rate. More than half of the stalls are currently free parking, with the remainder reserved for monthly parking.
"These people don't want to endorse your plan until they know what it will cost them," said Janet Mandrell, who has lived at the Ala Wai Harbor since 1995.
Michael Jones, assistant Oahu district manager of the boating division, said the parking fees will help pay for garbage removal and maintenance that currently comes from a boat users fund.
"We need to produce an income for the property to maintain it," he said.