HA‘ENA — One morning in late June, a Kaua‘i Police Department officer wrote 25 parking tickets before grabbing another ticket book to write another 25. He was one of two officers ticketing car after car on this day.
Rental cars had lined both sides of Kuhio Highway adjacent to the county Ha‘ena Beach Park, and those ticketed get tabbed with $235 fines. Parking enforcement is one of the tools being utilized to achieve the goals of the master plan for neighboring Ha‘ena State Park.
More importantly, is a new, adaptive-management structure that incorporates community involvement at its core.
During a June meeting, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources signed off on a one-year, revocable permit for the nonprofit Hui Maka‘ainana o Makana to oversee and manage a reservation system, including collecting both parking and entry fees, as well as an integrated shuttle system to reduce the number of cars that enter the park each day.
“The legislation that increased previously low parking fines along state highways is an additional tool to reduce visitor-industry congestion along rural roads adjacent to high-demand state parks, like Ha‘ena,” said Curt Cottrell, DLNR Division of State Parks administrator, in a press release.
”This is a critically needed enticement to ensure that the capacity-driven reservation system is honored. People need to understand that there have been decades of negative impacts to rural communities. Visitors should not try to bypass the reservation rules,” he said.
Since the North Shore Shuttle system resumed operations last Sunday after a long COVID-19 shutdown, that is exactly what has happened in some cases. People have been turned away since they did not have identification to show their state of residency. Some of the HSP parking-lot spaces are reserved for Hawai‘i residents only. Out-of-state visitors have to make reservations in advance, even if they arrive at the park with a Hawai‘i resident.
“To have a successful park-entry system is a multi-prong effort,” said Joel Guy of The Hanalei Initiative, operators of the shuttle.
”It is kind of like using the carrot-and-stick approach — increased fines and consistent enforcement for the no-parking areas paired with an exceptional shuttle service to increase access due to limited legal parking. This can be a successful formula that gives visitors an opportunity to come to the park in a pono way,” said Guy.
“There is no one recipe on how to manage sensitive cultural resources, sensitive natural resources and a fluctuating visitor industry,” Cottrell said.
“We committed to providing parking spots for residents. We know slots available for visitors sell out daily, but there is no magic sweet spot for assigning those numbers,” said Cottrell.
”So it’s a lot of watching and monitoring and working with the hui and shuttle system to manage the proper amount of visitation, and to make it economically viable and sustainable. (There are) a lot of moving parts to work with, and that’s the adaption part,” Cottrell said.
The HSP Master Plan caps daily visitation at Ha‘ena to 900 people. Reservation information can be found at gohaena.com.