HANALEI — The county is shutting down parking on Black Pot Beach until further notice because of sand erosion, starting today.
The restriction applies to vehicular access to the shoreline between the Hanalei River mouth and the Hanalei Pier.
“We have been monitoring this area for the past few days and the erosion has come to a point where it is dangerous for vehicles to attempt to access this area,” said DOPR Director Lenny Rapozo. “Vehicular access to this area will be blocked until further notice as a safety precaution.”
The erosion has begun to expose the roots of the Ironwood trees along the shoreline, according to officials. Crews will be trimming those trees today to mitigate the safety concern while attempting to keep the trees intact, according to a press release.
The restriction comes among complaints coming out of Black Pot that vehicles are illegally parking on the grass because they can’t fit their cars on the now-jagged sand.
But, the restriction on shoreline parking is a separate issue, said county spokeswoman Sarah Blane.
“In response to recent complaints of vehicles accessing the (grassy park) area, the Parks Department has taken added measures to restrict access,” Blane said. “It is important to note that this is completely separate from the blocking of access, which is due to beach erosion.”
Ben Welborn, longtime North Shore resident, counted more than 10 cars parked on lawn areas of Black Pot park last weekend. He took photos of the vehicles, along with the trash their occupants were leaving behind and sent them to The Garden Island and to the county.
“Why do people think it is OK to drive and park their vehicles in the park,” Welborn said. “(It’s) blatant disregard for anyone else. Black Pot Beach Park is being overrun by cars.”
The grassy park area is off-limits to motorists, according to Blane, and the county is reminding the public that there is a designated spot for public parking directly across from the park, along Weke Road.
Parking is in demand at the popular North Shore beach.
Last year, the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation unveiled the proposed layout for the Black Pot Beach Park Master Plan.
The preferred alternative plan includes 157 parking stalls with 60 overflow stalls, 18 boat-trailer parking stalls, 50-person camping, two comfort stations and 15 pavilions. The estimated cost is around $5 million.
Welborn said he’s developing a plan for a walking path on the North Shore.
“The solution isn’t to create more parking, but rather alternative transportation modality so parking isn’t needed by single occupancy vehicles,” Welborn said. “Let’s come up with some different modes.”