State to charge tourists for parking

State to charge tourists for parking
Lawson Teshima
Lawson Teshima
Richard Gano
Richard Gano

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A pricey change at many popular tourist spots around Hawaii.

Many visitors will now have to pay to enter and park at some state parks.

It's part of the land department's plan "B" after its "Recreational Renaissance" hit a roadblock.

Plan "B" or "Back to Basics" focuses on two goals. The first is increasing routine repair, maintenance and improving operations this year...

Plus, starting the longer-term process of raising new revenues from vacant urban lands so they can do more capital improvements faster.

By 2012, the state hopes to generate $8-million annually to fix up and maintain state facilities without raising taxes. $4-million would go towards state parks and trails.

"Due to the really critical economic climate we're in and just the insane amount of money that is not available to us to run our state parks division, we needed to go and have the ability to charge parking fees," State Parks assistant administrator Kurt Cottrell said.

On Friday, the state board gave final approval for new parking and entrance fees for visitors at eight state parks. The new prices are expected to raise $4-million every year.

The state chose two of the most visited parks on each island to start out. People there will pay $5 per car.

But at the Pali Lookout on Oahu, the parking fees were lowered for tour companies.

"We recognize that at the Pali, the time that they stay are very short compared to our other state parks," Cottrell said.

Others agree with Cottrell.

"We don't feel it's fair the tourists have to pay a fee just to take a look and get on the bus and leave again," Tour bus operator Lawson Teshima said.

The fees range from $6 to $24 for commercial tour buses, depending on the amount of people, with walk-ins still remaining free at all of these spots, but just for now.

The board does plan to set fees for people on foot in the future.

"It's probably a shame, 'cuz it would eliminate some people that should see it, but probably won't be able to," California visitor Richard Gano said.

DLNR officials say if it works, more fees may be on the way at other state parks. Parking fees may go into effect as early as the end of December.