Council discusses visitor parking fees at certain Kaua‘i beach parks

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Cars not parked in marked stalls are seen Wednesday in one of the Po‘ipu Beach Park parking lots.

LIHU‘E — The specifics for what a visitor parking fee may be at three county beach parks will continue in discussions next month with the Kaua‘i County Council.

At its meeting Wednesday, the council passed a resolution allowing the county Department of Parks and Recreation to establish visitor parking fees at three county-owned beach parks, and approved at first reading a bill that would create a fee schedule.

Last July, the department studied parking habits at Black Pot Beach Park in Hanalei, Lydgate Park in Wailua and Po‘ipu Beach Park, and found that creating an enforced parking structure may be a solution to eliminate over-use of park grounds.

Draft Bill No. 2843 lists a $10 price point, which is in line with rates at state parks, including Ha‘ena State Park and Waimea Canyon State Park, and would not be applicable to Kaua‘i residents.

This is a “psychological price point where people would be willing to pay and not seek another means of parking their car,” County Managing Director Michael Dahilig said.

How the implementation of the bill, which is up for a public hearing in February, would come to fruition, is still up in the air, and may well be determined by a request for proposals for vendors to implement the parking plan in the future, Dahilig explained to the council.

Conversations on whether the fees would be hourly or flat rates, whether this will be metered or as a phone app, are also forthcoming.

“We don’t necessarily believe that we would want to constrain a specific type of technology in an RFP (request for proposal) process simply because we’re not clear whether all of the conditions for meeting that type of objective,” Dahilig said. “We want that to be fleshed out via a proposal rather than us necessarily saying how to do this.”

Councilmembers were generally in agreement about the visitor fee, pointing to limiting overcrowding in these areas and potentially making more space for locals to enjoy these spaces.

Councilmember Billy DeCosta, who previously worked in Koke‘e, said he often noticed that locals would avoid scenic overlooks because there weren’t parking spots.

“Once (the state) put in those parking fees, there were spots for locals to enjoy,” DeCosta said. “Yes, there was some overflow parking by tourists on the side of the road, but that’s an easy fix if we have some kind of official checking on it.”

Councilmember Felicia Cowden expressed that she would like more outreach to be done before moving ahead, especially with the business community that may be affected by visitors parking in their lots to avoid paying.

“What happens is somebody comes to your business to get the product that they’re going to take to the beach and then they simply walk to the beach?” Cowden asked. “So what then happens is those parking lots that are paid for and maintained by the businesses that have the commercial lots … those end up housing all that leftover parking.”

Cowden’s motion to defer the resolution ultimately failed to receive a second.

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Sabrina Bodon, editor, can be reached at 245-0441 or sbodon@thegardenisland.com.

11 Comments
  1. Freedom for Kauai January 13, 2022 6:41 am Reply

    It’s sad to see what Kauai is turning into, the parking and fees and reservations, I couldn’t bring my mother in law to Ke’e because she wasn’t a resident and hadn’t made a reservation even though we were in the same car, have you ever heard of making a reservation to go to a beach? This is getting insane


  2. Kauaidoug January 13, 2022 7:19 am Reply

    Which is it, make money or keep spaces for locals? What you will do is make headaches for surrounding Business and tax paying residents. This is not a solution to overcrowded parking lots and as in Kokee you are charged out the wazoo and the same potholes are still in the parking lots and roads. Fix what you are doing and prove this works. Otherwise you are going to a lot of grumbling from visitors and voting residents. Listening council?


  3. nobody January 13, 2022 7:40 am Reply

    There will be many unintended circumstances created by this.

    Locals already have found new spots to hang out. Now tourists will be finding them.

    Read “Beat of Hawaii” comments from tourists about this plan. Much resentment. No Aloha.

    I agree the tourist industry should be highly taxed to pay their way. This is NOT the way to do it. Really dumb.


  4. Rick Bundschuh January 13, 2022 8:27 am Reply

    The proposal to start charging a fee for beach parking brings up a lot of questions.
    1. How does this actually free up parking at the beach? Does the council really think that a visitor driving over from Kapaa to go to Poipu Beach Park will try to find some other place to park rather than pony up $10?
    Not likely, so rather than solving the situation this seems at first glance just another way to add more cash to the county till.
    2. What kind of rock solid guarantee is there that sooner or later locals won’t be charged to park at their own beaches? Once the nose of the camel is invited into your tent it is just a matter of time before the whole beast is in there as well. (Look at the history of once free beach parking in California as an example)
    3. Does this proposal include charging our own kin who are now living off island but were born and raised enjoying these beaches when they come to visit the family?

    The situation of overcrowding on Kauai…on the roads and on the beaches is the result of the State and County allowing expanded resorts without dealing with infrastructure to handle the expansion of visitors. (As anyone could tell when during the COVID shutdown of resorts roads and beaches were virtually empty)
    To simply add fees does nothing to mitigate the problem created by lack of wise planning.
    The County and State created this problem and they should come up with a much better solution than bleeding visitors without solving anything.


  5. Doug January 13, 2022 10:11 am Reply

    “So what then happens is those parking lots that are paid for and maintained by the businesses that have the commercial lots … those end up housing all that leftover parking.” It’s called enforcement Felicia! Kauai should try it sometime! With the money from fines you pay a roving parking enforcement division to enforce the law. If we can afford to have TWO officers sit all day while construction is proceeding in Kapa’a, (with no revenue coming in) then we can afford a couple of lower paid parking enforcement officers (not full police officers) to ticket cars that are illegally parked. Businesses on the mainland issue limited time parking tokens for their customers to put on their cars in areas where parking is abused, and the abusers are ticketed and fined.


  6. Lawaibob January 13, 2022 3:45 pm Reply

    When are we going to start talking about limiting incoming flights?


  7. Jayna McClaran January 13, 2022 5:30 pm Reply

    Aloha, I’d like to suggest looking into how Washington state’s Discover Pass works and modify it to fit our states needs. The Discover Pass is a seasonal or one-time pass that is purchased, placed on the dash or rear view mirror and is required to enter and/or park in certain recreational areas. In Hawaii, this type of pass could be sold to tourists upon arrival and locals could reserve a free pass every year. This is just a quick idea and maybe a starting off point for more discussion and studies into other options. Using precedents can help us see what works in other places and how we can shape it to meet our needs so that we create an environment that is fair and enjoyable for everyone.

    Aloha!


  8. George Ho January 13, 2022 7:08 pm Reply

    Cowden is correct – the board is out of touch and should consider nearby businesses’ lots, which WILL be abused. Without action plans, this cannot move forward.


  9. Parking January 13, 2022 8:52 pm Reply

    No more taxes. Maybe they should
    Fix the fact Po’ipū beach parking lot floods and water sits for days with any substantial rains.


  10. common sense January 14, 2022 3:52 am Reply

    The problem on the island is the amount of tourists they have built accommodation for over the years. Limiting access to the beach will not help the situation. More parking is the only answer. Just like the only answer to the traffic is adding more lanes. You can’t have it both ways. Lots of accommodation with no infrastructure to support it, is moronic. Kauai is basically dying . Time to turn some of those time share places into worker housing instead of space form tourists the island can’t sustain


  11. Joe Public January 14, 2022 11:37 am Reply

    Good, they should help pay for the maintenance at Parks on Kauai


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