PRINCEVILLE — A new method of parking enforcement is set to hit Princeville’s streets in early February, a vehicle-immobilization device called the Barnacle that covers the windshield instead of using a conventional boot on the wheel.
It’ll be cheaper for drivers in the long run, according to the Princeville at Hanalei Community Association (PHCA) , because of the likely elimination of towing fees — which can be a minimum of $300 — as well as a time-saver when it comes to getting back on the road.
“Using wireless communications and tracking technology with its vehicle-immobilization device, the Barnacle attaches to an illegally parked vehicle windshield,” PHCA said in a press release about the device.
It’s a big, yellow square that suctions to the windshield and has a touch pad and digital systems to accept a credit card. Drivers have to pay Princeville’s $150 parking violation fee in order to get the Barnacle off their car, and that can be done via credit card, online or by mobile device.
Then, the driver must return the Barnacle to one of the two return boxes in Princeville.
To let everyone know of the changes, new signs are being installed at the entry of every Princeville neighborhood, warning residents and visitors of parking rules along with the $150 violation fine.
It’s part of an overall attempt to manage the out-of-control parking in the community, which has been a steadily growing problem for several years.
In 2018, PHCA General Manager Rory Enright started researching the Barnacles as a way to help curb parking violations, and he’s hopeful the Barnacles will contribute to a better situation.
“There’s no easy solution,” Enright said Friday. “We struggle to figure out what to do.”
Crammed parking at places like Queen’s Bath and Hideaways beaches is old hat for Princeville, as are the jammed-up streets of standstill cars all vying for one of the coveted spaces.
There are around 10 spaces at the county-owned Queen’s Bath public parking area, and less than that in the Princeville Resort-owned Hideaways public parking area. Other than that, the public can pay to park at the Makai Golf Course and at several resorts.
Parking along the side of the road is off-limits in Princeville, though it’s a daily occurrence.
“The only commercial parking in Princeville is at the shopping center and at the golf course,” Enright said. “The shopping center is always full with people that are shopping there.”
He says the popularity of Queen’s Bath is one of the biggest influences on Princeville’s parking problem, because when the community was designed nobody anticipated it would be a public attraction.
“That Queen’s Bath lot was initially meant for local fishermen, and it wasn’t until the guidebooks wrote about it that it got popular,” Enright said.
The highly popular destination is also highly dangerous — and not just because parking is severely limited. Big waves crash over the rocks and have swept many out to sea over the years, enough that handmade signs at the trailhead often warn visitors that to continue is to put their lives at risk.
In September, PHCA partnered with the county to build a chain-link fence across the trailhead with a gate that could be closed when conditions are dangerous, as well as a sign proclaiming NO TRESPASSING.
Soon after the gate was closed due to hazardous conditions, the public ignored the signs, wearing a path around the end of the fence and continuing despite the warnings.
So PHCA dropped $8,5000 in December and extended the fence into the thick jungle and to the edge of the property line. Officials thought the jungle would be thick enough to dissuade people from going around the fence.
They were wrong.
“It took less than eight hours for them to beat down a path around,” Enright said. “On that second leg (of the fence) we thought we had it. Now we’re practically in the neighbor’s yard.”
It’s not just the signs for Queen’s Bath and the parking signs that are ignored in Princeville. Those posted around the third phase of the Princeville Path rebuild project are ignored as well, and people wander through the Makai Golf Course, at the risk of connecting with a flying golf ball.
“I don’t know that it’s just in Princeville, but there’s disrespect for any signs,” Enright said.
Thursday, PHCA’s Board of Directors met with about 70 people in the community and decided to form a committee that will take a look at parking and signage solutions — solutions like a potential shuttle system or the long-term increase of parking spaces by the PHCA headquarters, as well as brainstorming new, innovative solutions.
“The intent of the committee is to work with the county in seeing what’s next,” Enright said.
Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or email@example.com.