Changes at Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor go into effect Saturday - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Changes at Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor go into effect Saturday

Alec Totto Alec Totto
Ralph Reda Ralph Reda

By Leland Kim - bio | email

WAIKIKI (KHNL) -   A major change will happen Saturday at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor in Waikiki.  More than half of the parking stalls there will become permit or metered parking.  Officials with the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) claim this is a better way to manage the lot, but many harbor users think otherwise.

It basically means you have to look at the signs carefully before parking your car.  A private company will manage the lot starting tomorrow, and provide 24-hour surveillance and enforcement.

"Permit Only" signs went up Friday.  A section of the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor next to the boat slips turns into permit parking.

"It's kind of upsetting," said Alec Totto, a 17-year-old surfer from Kaimuki.  "It's already hard to find parking and now they're making it permits, it's going to be really hard."

Totto surfs here four times a week.  He says a tough situation just got worse.

"I've driven around for like half hour her to find parking just as it is now," said Totto. "Now, it's going to be crazy."

And boat owners who rent slips here agree.

"It hurts us because we don't have a place to park," said Ralph Reda, who has rented a slip for his boat at the harbor for two years.  "We own boats here and that's what it's for.  Parking is supposed to be for us."

But free parking will still be available near the Hilton Lagoon as well as other parts of the harbor. In all, at least 300 stalls will stay free.

In a map of the harbor, free parking is in pink, permit/paid parking in yellow, and metered parking in green.  DLNR officials say this plan was approved after careful consideration and with people's input.

"There's been long history and complaints on homeless, people camping, people doing drugs," said Wesley Choi, Oahu's assistant district manager for DLNR's division of boating and ocean recreation.  "Just a lot of complaints about hotels and construction workers taking up all of the public parking stalls."

So this is an effort to help recreational harbor users.

"The people who have boats here, if they have valid parking permits for their vehicles, this will not impact them at all," said Choi.  "We hope that by charging for some of these stalls, that it'll free up more stalls because the average worker will not be able to do that.  We hope to be able to open up these parking stalls, so the recreational users can come down here and enjoy the water."

But some still see it as a negative.

"Don't put permits," said Totto. "I just want to come to the beach when I want to."

"To me, it was another privilege taken away from us," said Reda.

As far as the free parking stalls, there will be no overnight parking.  They'll be cleared out at 10:30 every night.  Remaining cars will be towed.

Harbor officials estimate they'll collect around $500,000 each year, and that money goes to a special fund for harbor maintenance and improvement.

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