City Council considers metered parking rate increases at Oahu parks

Published: Jan. 31, 2012 at 10:57 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 31, 2012 at 11:58 PM HST
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Helen Babalis
Helen Babalis
Peter Whiticar
Peter Whiticar
Al Tufono, city parks deputy director
Al Tufono, city parks deputy director

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu City Council is considering metered parking rate increases at Oahu parks, a proposal that isn't sitting well with many park users.

A surfer popped a couple of coins into a parking meter at Kapiolani Park, having no problem with a proposal to increase the hourly fee from 50 cents to $1.

"I'm surprised that they've been charging so little for so long," he said.

But not everyone is thrilled with the idea.

"It's kind of like the only huge green space we have in Honolulu," Helen Babalis, who's opposed to the parking fee hike, said. "So if you make it harder for people or more expensive for people, they might stop using the space. Then what will happen?"

"The city is using parks, recreation areas, beaches as a way to generate income for the city," Peter Whiticar, who's opposed to the parking fee hike, said. "I'm really opposed to this. I think the parks and beaches in Hawaii are for the people."

Nearly 200 people have signed an online petition opposing City Council Bill 30, which also calls for the doubled rate to be enforced 24 hours a day. Right now, many residents of nearby apartment buildings enjoy free overnight parking in the metered stalls.

"They do not have alternative places to park," Whiticar said. "Many of those people need their cars to go to work, they have families, they have good reasons. To look at paying $1 an hour, potentially 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, it's impossible."

The proposed fee hike could extend to other Oahu parks and recreational facilities. The city Department of Parks and Recreation says it spends about $24 million a year for the upkeep of all of its sites.

"There's an expectation for people in our community, the quality of the park," Al Tufono, city parks deputy director, said. "So we want to maintain the park and use those fees to be able to maintain our parks."

He says the city's metered parking rates have been kept relatively low over the years.

"Our fees are manini compared to what they're charging in the mainland," Tufono said.

"I don't think it's too crazy," Zoe Pappas, who supports the parking fee hike, said. "I think I'll still come out here. I'll still pay the price to park and enjoy our fabulous park."