Law regulates only amount of parking
The parking situation in Honolulu gets exponentially worse by the month! Finding a spot is always built in to my schedule with a lot of padding. I thought I was playing it safe with plenty of time to spare when I arrived at the movie theater at Ward Centers 45 minutes before show time. I engaged in the ecologically unsound practice of driving around all of the complex's lots three times, only to find that every spot was taken. On my final pass, I noted that the "Valet Parking" was almost empty. I don't know how this works. But aren't businesses like this supposed to promise that a certain number of spots be made available in order to get a permit (construction or business)? Who, if anyone, monitors/adjusts these outcomes? Is it fair, legal and/or sane to hold these valet spots for ransom, causing distracted drivers to pollute the air as they wind through masses of darting tourists and kids?
Answer: The Honolulu Land Use Ordinance generally specifies minimum parking requirements based either on area or occupancy.
Shopping centers are usually based on area -- one space per 300 square feet.
"Our experience is that many centers provide more than minimum parking because it is good business to do so," said Henry Eng, director, city Department of Planning and permitting.
But the Land Use Ordinance does not regulate the basis of parking availability -- whether for visitor, valet, employee, paid or free, he said.
"If the availability or convenience is not up to customer expectations, they will usually go somewhere else," Eng observed.
Because Ward Centers is in Kakaako, it falls under the jurisdiction of the Hawaii Community Development Authority.
The authority's zoning rule requires one parking space for every 444 square feet of commercial/retail, space, said Daniel Dinell, the agency's executive director.
But there also is no regulation as to how those spaces are allotted, he said.
Ward Centers will be reviewing its contract with its valet concessionaire to address your concerns, said General Manager Donna Farrell.
"We do evaluate the (valet) program from time to time and make adjustments to it, as well," she said.
But Farrell points out there are "a number of parking options" to be found throughout the complex.
In addition to the parking areas around Ward Warehouse, Ward Gateway and Ward Centre, parking is available evenings and weekends at Ward Plaza (corner of Auahi and Ward), at 1240 Ala Moana Blvd. (the IBM Building) and at the industrial area behind the Farmers Market.
"All of that is free parking," Farrell said.
A new parking structure is being built as part of the Ward Village Shops, which will add another 500 stalls, she said. That structure is expected to be completed in fall 2008.
Parking maps are available at Ward Centers or online at www.victoriaward.com/Maps/ParkingMap.html.
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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