New system needed
for camp permits
Three times a year, I take the morning off from work on Friday and wait in line at the Kailua Satellite City Hall for camping permits. I arrive at 5 a.m. only to find 10 chairs lined up and maybe one person in a chair. There normally is a van nearby, with someone who occasionally wanders over to the chairs, then returns to the van. At 7:30 a.m. people will show up around the chairs. There often are more people than chairs. Just before the office opens, a bunch of people will funnel in with the group before me. Staff will hand out numbered permits at 7:45 a.m., which has helped the problem of the last-minute people. But I cannot obtain permits for the camping spots I want even though I am the second person to arrive in line and wait patiently the entire time. When other people from my group arrive, they go to the end of the line. I have mentioned politely to the people who cut in that this is not right, but it doesn't make a difference. The staff say there is nothing they can do. Is there any solution?
Answer: The new administration is hoping to find ways to ease the problem of people waiting in lines throughout the various city departments.
In this case the Department of Parks and Recreation wants public input to try to improve the process of issuing camping permits.
"I can imagine (your) frustration," said Dana Takahara-Dias, the department's deputy director, who personally has observed the early-morning lineups.
She said the new administration, prior to your complaint, already was looking at "how we can best address the public's concerns about alleviating lines, as well as improving the efficiency of lines."
Camping permits, which are free, can be reserved two weeks in advance at the Honolulu Municipal Building or any satellite city hall.
"People know when we are issuing camping permits," Takahara-Dias said, and "the lines start very early on. That's something we don't control, but people want to be able to get their choice of camping sites."
The Parks Department understands that it's "the custom of the islands" for family and friends to do activities together, she said, and part of that involves taking turns in line to try to get seats together for events or, in this case, for the same camping sites.
The problem is how to maintain fairness without interfering with this custom that has "kind of evolved around camping and other social activities," she said.
To that end the department is asking campers and the general public for any suggestions.
"While we evaluate this whole thing, we definitely will take a lot of the input and ideas of others," she said. "We are looking to be open-minded on this."
To Ken Furukawa, vice principal at Waimalu Elementary School, for helping us jump-start our car battery after it died in the school lot. He was such a good Samaritan. -- Layla Tulloch and Reiko
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