Will putting in fewer parking spaces mean fewer cars on the road? The city hopes so.

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Updated: Nov. 10, 2020 at 8:42 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Environmentalists and developers clashed before the Honolulu City Council on Monday over new city parking regulations.

To reduce the number of cars on the road and cut down the amount of carbon emissions in the air, a bill now moving through the City Council would eliminate the requirement for developers to build a new parking stall for every 800 square feet that they develop.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he supports the concept.

“For me, less parking means less cars,” he said.

“I’d like to see less parking, more walking, more biking, more bus riding and some day more people riding the rail."

The theory is that some developers may sell units without parking stalls at a lower price while buyers would own fewer cars.

“We do believe it is critical that we take strong actions to combat the climate crisis," said Dyson Chee, of the Hawaii Climate Coalition.

Bill 2 also included a number of other ideas to discourage construction of parking spaces. One of them is to require parking lots to be built 40 feet away from property lines.

Developers said that will kill new projects.

“This new setback will limit the properties' buildable area, which will lessen the available land for parking, increase the project’s overall costs and result in projects being no longer cost-effective or feasible," said Paul Oshiro, of developer Alexander & Baldwin Inc.

Tracy Tonaki of homebuilder D.R. Horton Inc. also opposed this version of the bill.

“It would increase the cost of housing, much needed housing to Oahu,” she said.

The bill was recently changed to give developers more flexibility and eliminated the 40-foot setback requirement. Environmentalist blamed secret lobbying by developers.

“We also have real concerns with the process to date that has weakened a once visionary bill with ... a lot of one-sided access for developers,” said Sarah Elkotbeid of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The debate will continue when the bill goes to the Council zoning committee next week.

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