City reverses course on controversial parking, fence plans in Waikiki

City reverses course on controversial parking, fence plans in Waikiki
The city has postponed plans to close the zoo parking lot between midnight and 5 a.m. (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Plans to ban overnight parking at the Honolulu Zoo parking lot have been postponed “until further notice.”

The announcement came at Thursday night’s meeting of the Diamond Head Neighborhood Board, which was ready to vote on a resolution against the proposal.

The city also said it would remove one of the two fences that it recently installed on Christmas Eve to block access to the walkway between Leahi and Makalei parks at Diamond Head.

Plans to close the parking lot between midnight and 5 a.m. were supposed to take effect Jan. 22. Business owners, including Jack Law of Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand across the lot, were ready to speak out against the closure.

The proposal had drawn criticism at a time when street parking around Waikiki is getting harder to find and getting more expensive.

""I wasn’t even notified that this was going to happen," said Honolulu City Councilman Tommy Waters, who represents the area. “So I’m asking questions about why it’s being imposed now. Why now?”

There are some who said there’s a good reason for the closure.

“It’s for the people that go to the zoo,” said Waikiki resident Barbra Armentrout. “And a lot of people that go to the zoo, they have no parking because people park there and then bus to go downtown to go to work.”

The city’s parks department emailed the board and said it would take down the fence at Makalei Beach Park, but would leave the one up at Leahi park until repairs can be made to a railing.

“One fence coming down isn’t going to have a real big impact,” said Waikiki resident Mark Smith, who walks around Diamond Head with his wife several times a week. “Both of them have to come down.”

Even with the welcome news, board members are still demanding answers to the decisions regarding the parking lot and the fences.

“We would like the Department of Parks to come so we can talk to them and we would like them to tell us they’re going to do these things, not just do them on Christmas Eve and not give us any warning," said board member Linda Wong.

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