Facing backlash, Land Board scuttles parking plan for Ala Wai Boat Harbor

Public backlash squashes plans to charge for parking at Ala Wai lot

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Land Board on Friday shot down a controversial plan to eliminate 125 free parking stalls at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor.

“I think the sentiment of the board is not to do this," said Christopher Yuen, a member of the state Board of Land and Natural Resources.

“Unfortunately, this is something ― where you’re taking away what the people have enjoyed, the free parking ― that strikes a nerve.”

The plan would have eliminated more than 40% of the free parking stalls at the harbor. Grassroots organizations quickly mobilized to argue against it.

"From the Ala Wai Boat Harbor, all the way to Kapiolani Park, there’s no free public parking. That’s the reality, said Keone Downing, of Save our Surf.

“So you’ve chased out the local families from Waikiki.”

Added John Shockley of the Free Access Coalition: “How do people like myself, the people of Waianae, the people from Papakolea -- how do we access the beach," he said.

State boating officials said the parking is needed to serve the harbor’s growing commercial activities.

“We needed more space to take care of our tenants in our harbors as well as our guests and all of the additional commercial activities," said Ed Underwood, administrator for the state’s Boating Division.

Right now, there are 298 free parking stalls here, but according to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, many of those spaces are taken up by people who work in Waikiki.

“There is a lot of people who use that that work in the hotels, there is hotel guests because they don’t want to pay the hotel fees," said Underwood.

Surfers and boaters agreed but they are asking for a different solution.

“I come at 5 and all of the stalls by the fence and all of the stalls by the Hilton are taken and those are not surfers," said longtime surfer Kimo Chung.

In the end, the Land Doard instructed staff to work with the harbor’s stakeholders to develop a more comprehensive parking plan.

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.