Ala Wai Harbor parking fee plan upsets surfers
The state says funds generated would be used to improve the facilities for users
Some residents are crying foul over state plans to charge for some parking spaces at the Ala Wai Harbor.
"We don't want to lose free parking spots," said Scott Werny, co-chairman of the Surfrider Foundation's Oahu chapter. "We want to retain adequate parking."
The group advocates beach access for all recreational users of the ocean and is not convinced the state Department of Land and Natural Resources' plan for the Ala Wai Harbor provides that, Werny said.
The DLNR's boating division will hold public hearings on proposed changes in parking rules for state boat harbors statewide through the end of this month.
However, after the rules are in place, the division plans to change parking fees only at the Ala Wai Harbor in the near future, said Ed Underwood, boating division administrator.
Additional changes at other harbors would be preceded by local meetings with harbor users, Underwood said.
The Oahu hearing is at 6 p.m. tomorrow at Jefferson Elementary School's cafeteria.
Underwood said there are three major changes proposed statewide:
» Raise permit parking rates for boat slip renters to $25 a month from $1.67 a month. This affects only people who qualify for permit parking -- boat owners, their families or employees. There are about 500 such permits at the Ala Wai. Under the new rules, their holders could park five days in a row instead of the current three days.
» Earmark 130 parking spaces at the helipad as free for recreational harbor users. The spaces are free now but are also used by workers at Waikiki hotels and construction sites.
» Allow charging the equivalent of county parking rates (up to $1.50 an hour) for the remaining 370 such spaces, which are currently free.
Rumors that the plan will involve a manned parking gate are untrue, Underwood said.
Several potential bidders to manage the parking area for the state recommended a parking fee box, which would accept either cash or credit cards, Underwood said. Boaters could even use a cell phone to add time to their meter while at sea, he said.
Nonrecreational users will be discouraged from parking at the free heliport by state harbor staff and conservation enforcement officers, Underwood said, as well as the parking management company. The private company would be chosen later by a bid process, if the Board of Land and Natural Resources approves the rule changes, he said.
The division estimates that if the 370 currently unpaid parking spaces are used just eight hours a day, $1.6 million in new money would be generated, Underwood said. After removing payment to the parking management company, that should provide significant new revenue for much-needed harbor fixes, he said.
The majority of the money would be used at the Ala Wai, Underwood said.
"We believe that the proposed changes are reasonable and equitable, and would help the state better manage boating facilities, improve services and generate additional funds that can be used to make much-needed improvements at small boat harbors around the state," DLNR Director Laura Thielen said in an announcement of the hearings.
The boating division held several meetings this year seeking input on parking at the harbor from various user groups.
» Oahu: 6-8 p.m. tomorrow, Jefferson Elementary School cafeteria, 324 Kapahulu Ave.
» Big Island: 5:30-7 p.m. tomorrow, Waimea Senior Center, 67-1199 Mamalahoa Highway, Waimea
» Kauai: 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Wilcox Elementary School Cafeteria, 4319 Hardy St., Lihue
» Lanai: 5-8 p.m. Dec. 27, Lanai Public and School Library, Fraser Avenue, Lanai City
» Maui: 5-7 p.m. Dec. 28, Lahaina Intermediate School Cafeteria, 871 Lahainaluna Road, Lahaina
Comments can be given orally at the hearings or in writing until Jan. 4 to Chairperson, Board of Land and Natural Resources, Kalanimoku Building, 1151 Punchbowl St., Honolulu, HI 96813.
The proposed rules are online at www.hawaii.gov/dlnr/dbor/bordraftrules.htm and can be requested by calling Clifford Inn at 587-1972. Inn can also arrange disability accessible accommodations at hearings if requested three business days in advance.