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Could This New Pilot Project Fix Honolulu’s Congested Street Parking Problem?

Squeezed off the streets, Kalihi neighbors try a different parking system.


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Parking permit sign

Photo: David Croxford

 

You know the routine: Finish a long day at work, suffer through Honolulu rush-hour traffic and finally get back home—only to spend another 20 minutes driving around your neighborhood, praying for street parking.

 

Imagine if there was a parking permit for the street outside your house. From 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., only neighborhood residents with a permit could park in the area. It wouldn’t guarantee you a parking spot, but it would limit the competition.

 

That’s the concept for a new “Restricted Parking Zone” pilot project in Kalihi Valley’s Wilson Tract. Qualified residents of Wilson, Jennie and Alu streets received two residential and visitor permits per household. The city Department of Transportation Services and the Honolulu Police Department placed signs at the beginning and end of affected streets to explain the project, and issued press releases and media alerts about it.

 

“We adopted a resolution asking the Department of Transportation Services to evaluate what other cities’ best practices were when dealing with parking congestion and they did,” says Councilmember Carol Fukunaga. “They became very interested in the Wilson Tract area because the geography of this particular subdivision makes it easy for the department to test out practices.”

 

This stretch of Kalihi is compact and contiguous, ideal for a test. Wilson Tract also made sense because its residents were fed up with competing for spaces with vehicles from the Kalihi Valley Homes housing project across the highway and were ready to try something different.

 

Fukunaga says the problem got worse in recent years, because of  “more rigorous parking standards being enforced at public housing.” For example, public housing tenants who lacked all the current paperwork for their vehicles—safety check, registration and insurance—weren’t allowed to park in the designated lot. 

 

Wilson Tract picked up the overflow, she says, “parking and creating other kinds of disturbances.” Residents complained that some people slept in cars, littered and relieved themselves on the streets.

 

She says it took about 10 months and many neighborhood board meetings to bring it together. “I’m not sure what issues and challenges will come up, but I think there’s a real commitment to make it work for everyone.” 

 

Fukunaga says, depending on the results of this program, it could be tried in other neighborhoods.

 

Update:

After 169 out of 171 residents approved the pilot project, which took place throughout the month of April, Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Department of Transportation Services director Wes Frysztacki recently announced that the Wilson Tract restricted parking program would go into effect permanently, beginning Thursday, June 1. Kula Kōlea Drive and Na‘ai Street will also be added to the Restricted Parking Zone as of July 1.

 

READ MORE STORIES BY JAMES CHARISMA

 

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