Group starts petition to keep makai parking at Ala Moana Regional Park
A proposal that would eliminate parking on the makai side of the drive through the Ala Moana Regional Park is drawing opposition from a group of park users, who've started gathering signatures on a petition, both in person and online.
The group Malama Moana contends its concerns haven't been heard, especially on the parking issue.
It's estimated that Ala Moana Regional Park gets upwards of four million visitors a year, with parking often a challenge, especially on weekends and holidays.
he city's plans call for a much wider sidewalk next to the beach, along with some picnic areas, which would take over what are currently parking spaces.
"I approached a group and I said did you know the mayor's planning to do away with the parking and set up a promenade so you can't put your tent up here? And they went, 'no way!'," said Sharlene Chun-Lum of Malama Moana.
She and her husband, Bruce Lum, started going around the park Wednesday with a petition opposed to the parking change. The group has also started an online petition, with a goal of getting 5,000 supporters.
The group claims, among other things, that removing makai parking will make it harder to enjoy the beach, especially for those with families, along with tables, canopies and coolers.
"They'll probably have to drop things off, they'll probably have to have somebody stand guard over it, or let everybody else in while that persons goes and parks, wherever that's going to be, because it's not real clear," said Bruce Lum.
Caldwell and other city parks officials have already held two public input sessions in 2015 and 2016, and removing the makai side parking was already part of the proposed plans.
In a statement, city Deputy Managing Director Georgette Deemer said, "We believe the current orientation of makai side parking along Ala Moana Park Drive creates a situation that is hazardous to those attempting to cross the street, as cars parked along that side make it more difficult for motorists to see these pedestrians."
She added, "Further, reorienting the parking on the mauka side will enable a better flow of traffic and vastly improve the aesthetics of the park by opening up the view on the makai side. It will not decrease the amount of overall parking stalls within the park."
The park currently has 950 parking stalls.
"My initial thought was, why?" said Sel Western, visiting the park from California. He said he liked seeing what he called the real Hawaii. "I'm more of a 'leave things the way they are' type of person."
"There's plenty of other things with this beach that could be helped rather than taking away parking and taking away grass and the extra space," said Honolulu resident and frequent park user Hannah Rayburn.
Deemer said that the city will continue to review and consider public comments. It has already put an Environmental Impact Statement Preparation Notice online, with a draft Environmental Impact Statement expected to be completed by the end of this summer.
The public is invited to the final meeting to discuss the city's master plan for the park Monday, Jan. 29, at 6 p.m. at the McCoy Pavilion Auditorium.
Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.