Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Thursday, September 6, 2001

No real solution to
street parking woes

Question: I live at the Diamond Head end of Ala Wai, where parking is at a premium on the streets of Ainakea, Wai Nani, Pualani and the mauka block of Paoakalani. One morning, I counted at least 15 cars that had not moved for weeks upon weeks. These cars often are eyesores, as well as an inconvenience for residents who need to find parking. Isn't there a law that prohibits parking in one place for more than 24 hours? Despite repeated calls to 911 and the Waikiki substation, this law continues not to be enforced. Several officers have told me it is not possible to enforce the law because people can move their cars just a few inches to avoid a ticket. What are some short- and long-term solutions? I do not want to be a stickler about the 24-hour law because it can be a hardship for those who go out of town for a weekend, etc. My gripe lies with those who continually use the street as a long-term parking lot.

Answer: Your complaint sums up many that "Kokua Line" regularly receives from all over the island. Unfortunately, the 24-hour law is really meant for abandoned or derelict vehicles, although many people look to it to resolve parking problems. The general problem is not that people are dumping cars on public streets, but that there are too many cars and not enough places to park them.

Police and inspectors from the city Finance Department's abandoned-vehicles section respond to complaints about vehicles parked too long but end up not being able to take action because the vehicles are not abandoned and not otherwise in violation.

There has been no obvious solution, but perhaps getting your neighborhood board involved might be a first step. The City Council is another alternative, although proposed changes in the law (e.g., requiring a vehicle to be moved a certain distance after 24 hours) never got anywhere in the past. If any readers have found a solution, please call "Kokua Line."

Here are the pertinent laws, as explained by police Lt. David Eber, day watch commander at the Waikiki station:

"Leaving vehicles unattended for more than 24 hours (on a public street) shall constitute abandonment" under Section 15-13.8 of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu. No sign is needed.

If you are in a limited-parking area, with signs noting the restrictions, "then your car has to be moved at least 50 feet" after the time is up, Eber said. If there is no time limitation, as in a residential area, "you literally could push it forward six inches" and be within the law, he said.

When police or city inspectors receive a complaint, they will mark the tires. The problem is that owners of the problem cars know to be on the lookout for police, so, "If they see a chalked line, they will push (the car) forward six inches so the lines don't match up," Eber said.

City inspectors, meanwhile, will make an effort to see if a vehicle is "attended to," often taking a couple of days to try to find an owner before proceeding to have a vehicle towed, said David Mau, city assistant motor vehicle and licensing administrator. That's because "we're the abandoned-vehicle guys," he said. "We're not the guys that issue citations for parking problems. We're the last resort."

Either police or city inspectors can have "abandoned" or "derelict" vehicles towed. You can report such vehicles by calling 532-7700 (press 250 during the greeting).

In general, "Waikiki has a lot of parking problems," Eber said, adding that if a car is obviously abandoned, an officer "will take some kind of action." But patrol officers aren't going to be on the lookout for a car parked too long in one spot unless someone complains.

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.
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