Kokua Line
June Watanabe

Parking deal
fell victim
to popularity

Question: I'm wondering if you can find out why the Kukui Plaza public parking lot is eliminating its early-bird parking rate ($5 for the first 60 cars) effective May 1. The elimination of this rate seems particularly unfair since the city recently raised the parking lot's hourly rate. Is this effective for all public parking lots in downtown? Who makes this decision, and is there anyone that concerned commuters could address this issue with?

Answer: The actions of a few apparently led to the decision to do away with the early-bird rate.

The city Department of Facility Maintenance has a parking contractor who manages the parking lot and rates, explained Laverne Higa, director of the department.

Because the rate was limited to the first 60 cars, drivers would start lining up before the garage opened at 6 a.m., blocking the entrance, she said.

That prevented regular parking cardholders from entering the garage.

On top of that, Higa said, drivers harassed attendants for early-bird tickets after the 60-car limit was reached and blocked the exit, refusing to pay when they couldn't get the early-bird rate.

Because there were numerous complaints, it was the parking contractor's recommendation to eliminate the early-bird rate, and the city approved the recommendation.

If you have any questions or concerns about the change in policy, Higa said to call the city Parking and Property Management Branch at 523-4314.

Higa said this change did not affect the Marin Tower parking garage, which still has an early-bird rate of $6.

Q: Recently, in Kaneohe, I was behind a vehicle that had an unusual license plate. The top center of the plate said "Kingdom of Hawai'i." The middle section had a picture of the Hawaiian flag with the words "De Jure" on the left side of the flag and "EXEMPT" on the right side. In the bottom center were the eight numbers. Is this a valid license plate? I also noticed that this vehicle did not have a safety check sticker.

A: That was not a valid license plate.

As explained previously in "Kokua Line," state law requires any vehicle driving on city or state roads to have "valid" motor vehicle registrations, license plates and safety stickers.

Police do issue citations to vehicles with "sovereignty" plates when they see them, according to the Honolulu Police Department.

However, no statistics on the number of citations issued are kept.

Once officers stop a vehicle because of such plates, they also will check if the driver has a valid driver's license, vehicle registration and insurance. In some cases the vehicle is legally registered -- just the plates have been substituted.

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