HANALEI — Mason Chock, County Council Planning Committee chair, said he was asked to look into a situation where a restaurateur was being charged several thousand dollars per month for parking by its hotel and timeshare counterpart for visiting patrons.
“I thought the story was odd and forwarded the complaint to our Planning Department, where it was discovered potential violations were occurring, seemingly resulting in double occupancy without the proper entitlements and thus causing the parking bottleneck,” Chock said.
After initial field inspections in August, the Planning Department issued Hanalei Bay Resort a permit compliance violation for illegal dwellings, as well as a zoning compliance notice for parking deficits.
“If one project begins to operate outside its allowable use without the proper permitting, many other projects are likely to follow suit,” said Jimit Mehta, owner/operator of Happy Talk Lounge and Bali Hai Restaurant, located within the property.
The Planning Department is investigating the property for non-compliance to zoning rules, according to Kaaina Hull, deputy director of planning.
The notice of violation has been levied, and the county is in the beginning stages of discussion with all parties involved, according to County Attorney Mauna Kea Trask.
“My hope is that our county laws are followed, enforced, and fairness prevails for all involved, especially our community, who in this case may be suffering the repercussion of additional short-term rentals and cars on our roads without contributing to our infrastructure needs and maintenance,” Chock said.
Hanalei Bay Resort General Manager Greg Veal was unavailable for comment.
Hanalei Bay Resort was approved for 134 resort condominium units on Nov. 6, 1995, under provisions of the Interim Zoning Ordinance. Use as a hotel is allowed as long as it doesn’t impact the design of the apartments as dwelling units, which unlike hotel rooms contain kitchens.
The original dwellings at Hanalei Bay Resort consisted of 12, three-bedroom apartments; 62, two-bedroom apartments; and 60, one-bedroom apartments. However, the hotel property has advertised up to 280 dwelling units, 146 units more than approved, according to the violation letter.
County approval plans required the resort to provide a total of 249 total parking stalls. The county’s on-site count of available paved parking — 26 open to the public and 134 behind gated access — left a deficiency of 52 stalls.
“Each week, after the gates went down and valet was basically forced upon the patrons of Happy Talk, we received a bill,” Mehta said. “They just continued to bill us and add late fees. The totals amounted to between $14,000 to $15,000.”
Employees and patrons who decided to self-park outside of the resort were often ticketed $50 by the Princeville Hanalei Community Association or given warning notices from Princeville Patrol.
“Those sort of notices are likely to chase away any returning guests who wish to come back to our restaurant,” said Mehta, who said he has been unable to open the renovated Bali Hai Restaurant due to the parking shortage.