Kaimuki ditches parking woes
A lot's conversion alleviates the crunch to find spots for area business customers
Joannie Rossiter, owner of a salon and beauty school for 13 years in the now-crowded business district of Kaimuki, has heard endless tales of parking woes from students getting tickets or frustrated customers driving around in circles.
"As the businesses grew, we loved it because we had more business. The challenge was the parking," said Rossiter, owner of Ulupono Academy and Paul Mitchell salon at Waialae and 11th avenues.
Earlier this year, city transportation officials converted a packed metered parking lot into one with private parking attendants, freeing up more stalls and easing parking frustrations.
"Surprise, surprise -- you can come out to Kaimuki parking lot and find parking spaces," said Mayor Mufi Hannemann last week at a news conference. "The businesses are getting a rebirth here."
Most business owners and customers seem to like the new system that deters long-term parkers, mostly employees, from taking up stalls near several well-known restaurants, including Big City Diner, Verbano and Kim Chee II.
"We can actually find parking now," said Aina Haina resident Douglas Wong, who comes to the area once a week to go to take his 3-year-old granddaughter to Gymboree and then to lunch. "It used to take 10 minutes to find a stall. Now it's much easier."
Others, however, say it's a nightmare to exit the lot and that many times they end up paying for the time they wait in line.
To help alleviate wait time, two electronic machines were installed to allow customers to pay for their ticket before exiting.
The city raised parking rates to 75 cents a hour for the first two hours and $1.50 for every hour after that.
Republic Parking Northwest has a three-year contract to renovate and manage the larger of the two municipal lots. Crews are repaving and restriping the 270 stalls in the lot, and by the end of construction next year, city officials expect to have 290 stalls available.
The city was generating about $600,000 in annual revenue from the metered lot, spurring concern from some City Council members that a privatized lot would result in lost city revenue. Republic Parking pays the city $24,000 a year in rent plus 3 percent of its gross income, about $21,600, said Darin Mar, the project's manager for the city.
But Mar said the city benefits because it doesn't have to pay for the upgrades to the parking lot.