Parking plan removes 200 free stalls at Ala Wai
Critics say the state proposal would deny public beach access
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Some surfers and beachgoers are opposing a state plan that would take away more than 200 free parking stalls at the Ala Wai Boat Harbor.
The state wants to convert the free stalls into paid parking to discourage employees at surrounding businesses from using the space and also raise revenues for harbor maintenance.
The Surfrider Foundation and Common Ground Hawaii say more free parking is needed than called for in the plan.
The state Board of Land and Natural Resources is scheduled to take up the issue at a meeting starting at 9 a.m. tomorrow.
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Melissa Ling-Ing said she has difficulty finding parking to go surfing off the Ala Wai Boat Harbor, noting that a state proposal to add more paid-parking stalls would further limit public access to the shoreline.
"It's a real inconvenience," said Ling-Ing, spokeswoman for Common Ground Hawaii. "We're opposed to it because it will deny us beach access."
As surfers contend with accessing crowded shorelines at the Ewa end of Waikiki, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources is considering a proposal that would more than double the number of paid-parking stalls at the Ala Wai Boat Harbor near several surfing sites.
The surfing sites include Kaisers, Number Threes, Rockpiles and the Ala Moana Bowl.
The Land Board is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. tomorrow at its conference room at 1151 Punchbowl St. to discuss a number of issues, including the proposal.
State boating Administrator Edward Underwood said the proposal was prompted by complaints throughout the years about surrounding businesses using the harbor parking.
He said in a poll of harbor users, 60 percent said they wanted a parking management plan.
Underwood said the current rules allow for public paid parking throughout the Ala Wai harbor area, but only a mauka section of the harbor has public paid-parking stalls.
State officials said the proposal would expand the number of public paid-parking stalls to 370 from 100. But residents and surfers complain that means they will have to pay to use 270 parking stalls that are now free.
Fees for the public paid-parking stalls would be placed in collection boxes with slots corresponding to a parking space and payments enforced by 24-hour patrols.
The proposal would keep some 130 free public parking stalls at the site of a former helipad for beach and recreational users.
Underwood said the increase in paid stalls would raise parking revenues to $1 million from $120,000 annually and help in harbor maintenance.
Under the proposal, the maximum length of time for public parking would also decrease, to 24 hours from 72 hours.
He said he does not know the hourly amount that would be charged for the paid stalls but that the charge might be equal to or less than the city's fees.
Scott Werny, Oahu chapter co-chairman for the Surfrider Foundation, said 130 free public parking stalls are not enough.
Werny said a survey conducted by his organization indicated there was a need for at least 150 free public parking stalls for beach and ocean users.
Werny said he does not see why recreational users should pay for metered parking when the revenues are going to maintain the harbor.
Werny also criticized the Land Board for holding the meeting during a workday, thereby limiting the number of people who could testify in opposition.
Ling-Ing said part of the problem has been the state's lack of enforcement in barring construction workers and other employees from taking spaces at the harbor.
Underwood said under the proposal, there would be signs posted informing people that certain stalls are designated for recreational users.
He said there would be staff patrolling the area to enforce the parking rules.