The city is closing a Waikiki parking lot overnight, impacting businesses
HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Businesses and residents in Waikiki are raising concerns after word got out that the city will be locking up the Honolulu Zoo's parking lot at midnight beginning next month.
Because the zoo parking lot is part of Kapiolani park, city officials say the lot is for users of the park and the zoo only.
So starting January 22, the lot will be locked and closed from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. - in line with park closure hours.
The city installed new gates last month.
"Practically, that doesn't add up, and it is really going to put a lot of people at a disadvantage," said Jack Law, owner of Hula's Bar and Lei Stand. "Waikiki has everything but parking and reasonable parking especially."
Law says his business is open until 2 a.m. seven days a week.
He says the closure of the lot will not only impact his customers, but also his employees and other local workers who park there.
"When we close at 2 o'clock, my employees have to close up and do all the closing procedures and they're not usually out of here until after 3 o'clock, so it would definitely affect my business," Law said.
Right now, it costs $1.50 per hour to park at the zoo, with a four-hour time limit.
The city says the midnight parking rule is not new but officials say they will begin cracking down.
"The parking gates will be locked promptly at midnight," said Tracy Kubota, Deputy Director of the Department of Enterprise Services, in a statement. "The lot closure will be strictly enforced by our parking concessionaire and any cars left in the parking lot at midnight will be towed by a private towing company."
Kubota says that's to prevent anyone locked inside from damaging city property by trying to drive their vehicle out.
Rumors of the upcoming changes surprised businesses and neighborhood board members who say they weren’t given any official notice.
The city says it was planning to distribute informational flyers to the community early next month.
"Sending out a notice in January for a closure or enforcement that's going to occur within a matter of weeks seems a bit short notice and short sighted," said Richard Figliuzzi, chair of the Diamond Head/Kapahulu/St. Louis Heights Neighborhood Board. "At least have it pushed back to a point where we've given due respect and accord to the people that actually use that parking area."
Figliuzzi believes the city's plan is unnecessary since there doesn't appear to be a particular problem or complaint that prompted this closure.
He says they'll be discussing this issue at their meeting on January 9.
“What it actually functions as is a municipal parking lot for everyone to come and visit Waikiki. We want to get more locals coming to Waikiki, we have to find places to park. And it seems to have been functioning fairly well in that regard until this came along,” Figliuzzi said.
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