Maui considers reserving beach parking for residents

Maui considers reserving beach parking for residents
File photo (Source: Hawaii News Now/file)

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — The Maui County Council is considering measures that would reserve at least half of all public beach access parking for residents and for visitors to be charged parking fees.

The proposals came as frustration has increased because of overcrowding and large numbers of tourists, The Maui News reported.

“For too long, residents have been asked to sacrifice their quality of life for the promise of economic benefit, but as balance was neglected, the return on investment diminished and our resources have been loved to death,” said Council Vice-Chairwoman Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, who introduced both proposals.

She envisions a beach parking program where resident vehicles could get stickers or another identification to allow access. Another possibility would be the addition of parking fee machines that would scan Hawaii driver’s licenses and print tickets for display on car dashboards.

Enforcement would be funded by nonresident parking fees. Signs would be posted and stalls painted to inform visitors of the rules.

A local company could be contracted for enforcement, or county ranger services could be expanded. Rawlins-Fernandez said visitor vehicles parked in resident spaces would be towed.

Both issues were referred to the council’s Budget and Finance Committee for an upcoming meeting, likely in July.

Council Chairwoman Alice Lee said the proposals need thorough consideration, especially because enforcement is central to the proposal.

The number of travelers to Maui has rebounded in recent months after plunging at the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year.

Resident frustration has lately centered on the perceived lack of enforcement by the state and county of tourists who don’t follow COVID-19 rules for wearing face masks and maintaining physical distancing.

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