Bill may increase
parking prices

Raising the rates on street
meters would lessen budget
cuts, a councilwoman says

The cost of parking on city streets and parking lots will go up under a bill introduced by City Council Budget Committee Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi.

City & County of Honolulu The bill proposes to raise street parking meter fees in downtown Honolulu and Waikiki and fees at 21 municipal parking lots in downtown, Kaimuki, Kailua, and Salt Lake.

"We're looking at the parking fees because they're so low," Kobayashi said. "Sometimes they're 25 cents for an hour, so even a slight raise in those fees can bring us quite a bit of money so we don't have to make as many cuts (in next year's budget)."

It's unclear how many more coins will be needed to feed parking meters because the amount of the increase hasn't been set yet. The budget committee will discuss the measure Wednesday.

"We'll try to fill in the blanks at that time," Kobayashi said. "We don't want to gouge people, but we think that after 10 years that it's fair to look at a slight increase."

Kobayashi said the rate increase won't impact "family areas" like the Honolulu Zoo parking lot.

Higher parking fees could also turn over spaces more frequently in areas like Kaimuki where parking is difficult to find, she said.

But businesses that rely on municipal lots for customer and employee parking aren't so sure.

"It depends on how much more they are going to raise them," said Mike Williams, a manager at Hale Vietnam Restaurant in Kaimuki. "Hopefully, they won't raise it up that much."

Lane Muraoka, owner of Big City Diner in Kaimuki, said the fee increase will affect his employees and customers who use the city parking lot off Waialae Avenue between 11th and 12th avenues.

"The whole problem is that there's not enough parking," Muraoka said.

He said customers from Kaimuki go to the new Big City Diner in Kakaako, rather than the closer restaurant because parking at the Ward Avenue store is free and covered .

The parking fee revenue could help Kobayashi as she formulates a final draft of the city's $1.22 billion operating budget . The draft is due out by Friday.

In the first Council draft, Kobayashi proposed over $2 million in cuts that included dozens of vacant yet funded positions. But since then, her colleagues have asked her to restore some of those cuts.

Kobayashi said the cuts are needed to accommodate $6.2 million in arbitrated pay raises for white-collar government workers, as well as alternatives to budget proposals made by Mayor Jeremy Harris that the Council doesn't agree with.

They include the mayor's proposal to hike "tipping" fees charged to commercial trash haulers at landfills by $4 million and to transfer $1.3 million from the Hanauma Bay special fund to the general treasury fund.

"We're trying to accommodate everyone, but it comes down to cuts have to be made and where should we make them," she said.


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