Safety concerns prompt parking restrictions near Waipahu school, upsetting residents

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

WAIPAHU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When school begins on Monday at August Ahrens Elementary School in Waipahu, people who've parked along Mahoe Street next to the school will have to find another place to park their vehicles.

That's because on school days, it will become a no parking zone.

August Ahrens is the state's largest elementary school, with more than 1,300 students. Residents in the neighborhood say there's always a big traffic jam when kids are dropped off and picked up. School administrators requested the change to decrease congestion and increase safety.

"I personally went out with my staff member to go watch and explore what was happening during the morning and afternoon pickups," said Honolulu City Councilman Brandon Elefante, who took the school's request to the city. "And if you're really there during those times it is really congested."

Some neighbors don't believe the no parking rule will make a difference.

"They'll all be backed up all the way back to the end of the road and all the way to Waipahu Street," said resident Joe Kelsoe. "And parking's not going to change that."

Kelsoe and others are upset because the change will take away at least 15 parking spaces. And although the change is only during school days, Kelsoe said it will affected overnight parking, because people will have to wake up early to move their cars.

"I was really concerned because nobody in the neighborhood was asked how it would affect them, and obviously nobody in the neighborhood made the decision or even had input," said Kelsoe.

Elefante said the proposal went before the Waipahu Neighborhood Board, which approved the change because there was no opposition during the meetings.

While this change was made for safety, it comes at a time when more and more parking spaces around Oahu are disappearing to make way for bike lanes and other roadway changes. Elefante said even without these changes, parking will become more scarce as the population increases.

"We encourage people to take alternative forms of transportation to and from -- whether its the workplace -- or walking and encouraging that," he said.

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