Council mulls visitors beach-park parking fee

LIHU‘E — To address overcrowding at beach parks, the County Council has offered a bill authorizing the county Department of Parks and Recreation to initiate a study to potentially institute a county-beach-park parking-fee structure.

Bill 2805, which passed unanimously on passed on second and final reading and is now an ordinance, allows the department to impose parking fees on non-residents, and directs the department to conduct a study to determine those rates. The department will be facilitating the feasibility study but would need to go back to the council for further approval to enact any such program.

The bill was introduced by Councilmembers Mason Chock and Luke Evslin in October.

“I think our rationale was so that when they do the study it is done with clear legislative intent, that our intent here as a body is to charge visitors for parking and not to charge residents,” Evslin said in October.

“The future study is looking at, and the study is needed to develop, a nexus for the fees, so that is why we are doing it both at once.”

Chock said this study may also encompass the effects of traffic, rental cars, parking and the establishment of shuttles. The bill specifies that the study includes traffic counts and the documentation of safety and traffic concerns. The bill states that rental cars shall be subject to the charge. Part of the study would be to identify parks and possibly go forward with pilot projects.

“We have already experienced that (overcrowding) in certain areas of the island, so I think this initiates that discussion about no-parking zones as well,” Chock said when the bill was introduced.

Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation Wally Rezentes said the goal is to figure out what to do internally as a department.

“There is no one solution, but there are alternatives that we definitely could look at to see what would fit for Kaua‘i,” he said. “What we do not want to do is implement something that is going to cost more to run than what we bring in, so we need to make sure we have some business sense as to whatever solution we decide.”

The bill stipulates that any fees derived be added to the Special Trust Fund for Parks and Playgrounds and stay in the “respective district in which such fees were generated,” the bill states. Violating the parking fees would come with a $100 first-offense fine. Upwards of two offenses would result in a fine up to $500.

“One of our first drafts was five pages long and much more comprehensive,” Evslin said. “It kind of laid out the specific program for how they would be charging, and how to identify rental cars versus residents, etc. We ended up eliminating all of that, thinking it was better to give DOPR as much flexibility as possible to determine how to do this on their own.”

Correction: Due to an editing error, this article was updated at 6:12 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 23 to correct that Bill. 2805, Draft 1 was passed on passed on second and final reading on Dec. 16. It passed on first reading in October.

23 Comments
  1. John Moser December 23, 2020 4:32 am Reply

    It really not that hard. Add whatever fees you desire to rental cars, rental surf, Scuba, snorkel equipment. You have unlimited taxation potential of visitors. You have seen the light in the past, why even study such an idea. The study itself is wasteful.

    Mahalo


  2. Wailua Willy December 23, 2020 4:51 am Reply

    How will the county distinguish between locals, like me, from the visitors when we rent a car? I occasionally need to rent a car for a few days to take care of things since we don’t own a car, and like to visit the beaches too when we have a car. Is Kauai trying to kill the local rental car business like they have with all the other hospitality businesses?


  3. Anahola Paul December 23, 2020 5:20 am Reply

    This is an excellent idea. Keep the money in Kauai…and not have it go to the State.
    Again, Kauai is Disneyland for mainland tourists….let them pay the admission fee to get in…and keep the dollars within Kauai to maintain the parks and bathrooms.


  4. Tu December 23, 2020 5:30 am Reply

    There are at least 2 opposing ways to loo at this, both of which it is certain that Councilmembers Chock and Evslin have looked at.
    1. Parking monitors at each park thus More County workers that swell the county payroll that in low season the County tax payers (residents) would have to foot the bill for.

    2. Taxing visitors into not coming. I’ve seen mainland beach parking lots jam packed all day, depending on the weather, but most of the cars belonging to local surfers who pay monthly parking, which would be a burden on local residents, though not a consideration in this bill. But once in place would the situation change to locals on lesser incomes have to pay?


  5. R Skinner December 23, 2020 6:44 am Reply

    Just another roadblock for the tourists who already have to navigate so much to come to Kauai. This is bad publicity waiting to happen. When are the powers that be going to wake up and realize where their income originates.


  6. kauaiboy December 23, 2020 6:52 am Reply

    Please consider that, when faced with paid parking at designated beach parks, a large percentage of visitors will seek out beaches that are NOT beach parks and overrun them. Those who do will contribute to trash on or near the beach, as there are no trash receptacles. They will not be protected by lifeguards and so will be risking their lives in the ocean and require more special rescue services when they do require help. Some may even defecate on or near the beach, as there are no restroom facilities at non-beach park beaches.

    And they will anger the local residents who are seeking to avoid tourist hordes.

    Why not just mandate a tax of $10 per day on all rental cars on island? Surely that is possible????


    1. nobody December 23, 2020 4:09 pm Reply

      When Ke’e was cut back 85% to visitors they went to other less safe, unguarded beaches. We all saw that happen. (Unless you don’t go out and look.)

      Tourists will pay. Taxing rental cars is way simpler than nickel and diming them everytime they turn around. Build more parking stalls near life guarded beaches. Tax the rental cars a lot and improve facilities a lot with the money.


    2. Steve Martin December 23, 2020 8:31 pm Reply

      I have never understood why people seem to forget how much money it takes to provide the park system with money they don’t have. Everyone wants to have a decent, clean, stocked, bath rooms at the parks. In most cases it doesn’t exist because their is not enough tax money appropriated for the department. The fees for rental cars I agree with. A great way to help pay for the decent facilities at the parks. I spent many years and paid as much as $75 a year for a sticker that got me into any state park any time I wanted and they all had “decent” equipped facilities. Experience shows that if we did that here for about $40 a year sticker, We would see a significant difference from what we are experiencing now at our state park system. Merry Xmas Kauaiboy


  7. nobody December 23, 2020 7:12 am Reply

    “What we do not want to do is implement something that is going to cost more to run than what we bring in, so we need to make sure we have some business sense as to whatever solution we decide.”

    Wally, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Thank you. I hope the rest of the council takes your advice.


  8. nobody December 23, 2020 7:28 am Reply

    The problem we are now facing at Kauai’s beaches is PARKING, Kauai is blessed with more sandy beaches than the entire state. The beaches themselves are not crowded, just the parking lots.

    It’s ridiculous to think as the population grows we’ll have enough existing parking. Who’s planning, or I should say, not planning.

    We need to provide more parking for our residents and visitors. Just charging visitors will not solve the problem.

    As for shuttling the tourists, my opinion is it’s a black hole for money. Kauai is not Yellowstone. We don’t have the volume to make it work. As long as we’re willing to keep subsidizing the shuttle with millions of taxpayers dollars it will run. It will never pay for itself. Ask the County why they for the third time refused to run it.

    I’d like to hear what Wally’s solution to all of this might be.


  9. J.D. December 23, 2020 8:09 am Reply

    It seems even the council wants to ruin the Island economy.
    How much will it cost to implement and monitor a program like this? More government control.


  10. billyjoebob December 23, 2020 11:06 am Reply

    If this passes it would be really nice to use some of the funds for cleaning and maintaining the bathrooms.


  11. Rampartview December 23, 2020 2:47 pm Reply

    Why not charge everyone who uses a parking lot. There is the same cost associated with all that are using it. About time somebody has the nerve and guts to say that everybody has to pay the cost and not always be looking for a handout.


    1. Koa January 10, 2021 8:13 pm Reply

      Exactly, the cost should be shared like the majority of the public use areas in the country. What I typically see at fee areas is that you pay for a yearly permit or pay daily, this makes it fair for all.

      Asking visitors to pay and not charging residents for access to the same areas is discriminatory. I have visited Kauai for years and sadly may not go back if this is the attitude that they have toward visitors who are already paying hefty taxes for the “privilege” to visit.


  12. Mike December 23, 2020 2:49 pm Reply

    Love how you all want the benefits of tourists but want to go out of your way to alienate them at the same time. You literally live on another planet.


  13. Gail D Dinsmore December 23, 2020 3:26 pm Reply

    I have owned a time share condo on Kauai since 1994. I absolutely love Kauai. Just look at my email address. Every year I spend three weeks on Kauai. I consider Kauai my second home. I tend to go to the beach twice daily. Having to pay to go to the Waimea Canyon and Kalalau lookout and now to have to pay to go to the beach every time, I will have to think about selling the condo and trying somewhere else (Aruba).


  14. I saw a Vampire once December 23, 2020 4:14 pm Reply

    lighten up. The beach is not over crowded. We are in a pandemic. How bad could it be? If they want to get darker in skin, then let them. Skin tumor? I don’t think so. It is all in the complexion. This is America. I think they just want to be “hoales”. At the beach. Locals will be locals.


    1. Me December 24, 2020 2:24 am Reply

      Ok
      Bye


  15. Jacque Alt December 23, 2020 5:48 pm Reply

    In March of 2019 I was able to visit your paradise for a week. As a visitor I never disrespected you beaches. As an older visitor I am unable to hike your lovely trails nor would I be able to park further than from current beach parking. My one bucket list item was to visit your island again but after COVID, physical limitations will prevent doing so as visitor parking legislation that will limit access.


  16. Chris December 24, 2020 8:25 am Reply

    Great. Make a way for thieves (etc…) to spot tourists.

    I wouldn’t mind the fees if it applied to (we) locals equally. There is nothing in the constitution that gives any priority to “locals” over other citizens, yet locals here think they’re special.

    The tourists put much more into the economy (outside the pandemic) than locals, yet are only 20% of cars on the road or beaches. Local are the problem. Tourists are the ONLY cure for our economy. The problem is locals, not tourists. Focus solutions on the problem.


  17. A local resident December 24, 2020 11:16 am Reply

    If the criteria is those who pay property tax, then let them show a receipt for property tax paid in order to get free parking and passes. That would exclude most locals.


  18. kEOKI December 24, 2020 4:04 pm Reply

    Yes Chris, you are right – focus solutions on the problem. and one more problem: designated camps for homeless people in our best parks with lifeguards – Lidgate , Salt Ponds, Anahola, Anini. Those parks are piling with garbage, abandoned cars and bikes and the County council and the Mayor K. decided, that tourists are the culprit and they must be penalized. Almost a year since the pandemic, no tourists and no efforts from the county to solve that problem, contrary – the number of homeless in Kauai is rising, not because of the Covid – 19, but because new people from Mainland are flocking here and no one is looking for any responsibility from them and now we all have to pay for their convenience


  19. jose sanchez December 26, 2020 11:32 am Reply

    Always the same garbage coming from our leaders mouths, Tourist are NOT the problem, its locals who trash the beaches, bonfires, beer cans. A single rental care already generates more taxes than the average kauai resident. Fools running this island


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