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To address overcrowding, Maui mayor considers charging visitors for beach parking

If Maui Mayor Mike Victorino has his way, out-of-state visitors would have to pay for parking at some county beach parks.
Published: Apr. 15, 2022 at 9:28 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 16, 2022 at 1:04 AM HST
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WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - If Maui Mayor Mike Victorino has his way, out-of-state visitors would have to pay for parking at some county beach parks.

It’s an idea that’s been discussed for several years, but never implemented.

Victorino said he’s following an example set in other part of the state.

“What we want to do is first of all is make sure that our residents have the right and the ability to go to our beach parks and enjoy themselves, and make sure we accommodate our visitors,” Victorino said.

So far, there are few specifics about how the proposal would work.

However, the mayor’s budget includes nearly $4 million to start charging non-Hawaii residents at popular beach parks that are being overrun by visitors.

Some lots may have parking attendants, while others might have an online reservation system.

Victorino points to Hanauma Bay as a model. There, Hawaii residents get in for free but out of state visitors pay a $25 entry fee.

“I think the Hanauma Bay model is a very successful one in that we weren’t charging and limiting the number of people, the place would have been overrun and just, kind of frankly, decimated by so many tourists,” said Stuart Coleman, executive director of Wastewater Alternatives and Innovations.

Reservations systems are already in place in some spots on Maui.

The state runs one at Waianapanapa State Park in Hana. The National Park Service charges visitors to watch the sun rise at Haleakala, and limits their numbers.

“Not only has it made the parking lot more manageable, because they’re able to cut off — I think they hold about 150 cars — but they’re also able to recoup the funds to pay for that maintenance,” said Maui County Councilwoman Kelly King.

King doesn’t think the proposal will discourage people from going to the parks.

“I think it will just bring in revenue,” she said. “Hopefully it will encourage some people to carpool and maybe take other modes of transportation.”

“You go to the beach to relax, to unwind, and it can get frustrating when there’s no parking, and so playing a little more active role in managing that is going to result in a better experience for everybody involved,” said Ilihoa Gionson, the public affairs officer for the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Gionson said the HTA has been meeting with Victorino and other Maui tourism officials on the matter.

Victorino said any revenue would go toward maintaining additional parking spaces and protecting the environment. He hopes to start the changes next year, if not sooner.

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