City balances business use of parking
There are only 18 metered parking stalls for the public along Saratoga Road in Waikiki between the post office and the Army Museum. For the past two years, Verizon workers have taken five of those stalls, and since the Trump Towers project began recently, workers there have taken over another five. This leaves only eight stalls for the public. Cars that remain parked in the Verizon or Trump Towers-designated stalls after 7 a.m. are towed. Apparently, these companies are able to "rent" these metered stalls from the city. How is it that the city believes it is appropriate, or at all fair, to rent these metered stalls to businesses and thus deprive the public of the opportunity to park affordably? Much of the public simply cannot afford to park in the costly adjoining parking lot. The companies should stop taking away the public's parking and instead send their workers to park in the adjoining parking lot. What can be done about this unfairness?
Answer: This is a situation in which the city administration tries "to balance the needs of the community against the needs of the business," said Melvin Kaku, director of the city Department of Transportation Services.
Recognizing the public's need for parking -- such as in the high-demand parking area along Saratoga Road -- Mayor Mufi Hannemann directed the department to institute a policy allowing only half the parking meters at any given construction site to be made available for a contractor's use, Kaku said.
That policy took effect about a year ago.
In this case, of the 19 metered stalls in the area, contractors have permits to reserve nine spaces for $3 a space per day, Kaku said. At any given time, there should be at least 10 stalls available to the public.
We remarked that $3 seemed to be a low fee, but Kaku said the long-standing practice allowing people to apply for, and get, a permit to reserve stalls on city streets is set by city ordinance.
Under Section 15-22.8 of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu, before "any person" can enclose or obstruct a metered parking space for purposes of "erecting, constructing, enlarging, altering, repairing, moving, improving, removing, converting or demolishing any building or structure," they must pay a $3-a-day per-meter sum (except for Sundays and public holidays).
The fee is set by the City Council.
Once a permit is issued to a contractor, "we don't control who actually gets the individual use of the parking stalls," Kaku said. It could be anyone among "a multitude of consultants" working on a project, he said.
The Department of Transportation Services does encourage contractors to use on-site parking whenever possible, Kaku said. However, he noted there are times where they need additional parking for staging or loading/unloading materials; those situations are reviewed case by case.
He also explained that the length of each permit depends on various factors, including public safety and other scheduled city-sponsored events.
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