Harbor to have fee, free parking
Some Ala Wai dock users might have to pay for a space
The Board of Land and Natural Resources has reduced the number of free parking stalls at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor to 300 from 549.
The compromise plan satisfied some surfers and will still allow the state to raise money for harbor maintenance and improve security at the harbor, said Ed Underwood, administrator of the state Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation.
"We're stoked," said Melissa Ling-Ing, spokeswoman for Common Ground Hawaii, a group that had opposed parking fees.
She said the proposed fee for the converted parking was reduced to 25 cents an hour from $1 an hour, and no time limit was set for the parking stalls.
"It was a good ending," Ling-Ing said, "a semivictory."
There are currently 966 parking stalls at the harbor. About 300 of those are reserved for permit use by harbor residents, while 100 stalls have meters that charge 40 cents an hour. The rest are currently free.
As part of the proposal, public parking areas at the harbor will close nightly from 10:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m., effective as soon as the state makes the signs, Underwood said. Additional signs will be posted to designate the free parking for recreational users.
About a year and a half ago, state officials began seeking a parking management plan at the harbor to deal with residents' complaints. Ocean users said construction workers were taking free parking stalls, and harbor residents complained people were using their permitted stalls. Some complained of criminal activity at night.
During several public meetings, the state proposed taking away free parking except for the helipad area, which has about 120 stalls. Residents opposed the plan, saying it would reduce ocean access.
"We want to work with the public," Underwood said. "It'll help us start getting a handle on the parking situation down at the Ala Wai. There's a lot of activity going on at night down there, so we want to close off some areas."
He said ensuring workers in Waikiki do not use the remaining free parking stalls will be tough, but the signs and hiring a parking vendor to manage the spaces could help.
A vendor could be found as early as next month, and the parking spaces converted soon afterward, Underwood said.
The state will first enter a short-term contract, lasting no longer than a year, with a vendor. A succeeding long-term contract could see a rise in parking rates, Underwood said.
Revenues from the new parking fees will go into the Boating Special Fund, which supports harbor repairs statewide, but officials hope to use that money at the Ala Wai harbor, Underwood said.