Amendments made to parking limits bill

Sep. 19—A City Council committee has approved amendments to a proposed measure to make permanent a years-long program to restrict parking in Kalihi Valley—including a proposed fee structure with fixed, annual permit fees.

A City Council committee has approved amendments to a proposed measure to make permanent a years-long program to restrict parking in Kalihi Valley—including a proposed fee structure with fixed, annual permit fees.

Controversial Bill 20 stalled in the City Council earlier this month, when on Sept. 6 the Council decided to steer it back to the Council's Committee on Transportation for further review.

Last week that committee offered amendments to the bill that would transition Kalihi Valley's restricted parking zone, or RPZ, pilot program—first established in 2017 and located in three spots around the valley—to permanent status, while paving the way for similar types of restricted on-street parking zones around the island.

Bill 20 is intended to reduce parking congestion, noise, crime and other quality-of-life concerns. Council members Tyler Dos Santos-­Tam and Radiant Cordero introduced Bill 20 in March. Dos Santos-­Tam and Cordero are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the five-member transportation committee.

As proposed, the amendments—some of which offered by Council Chair Tommy Waters and Vice Chair Esther Kia 'aina, submitted in their own floor drafts of the measure—include a proposed fee structure with fixed, annual permit fees.

"So the first car is $125, " Dos Santos-Tam said Wednesday at the committee's meeting.

He said every car submitted for an RPZ permit thereafter will see the base permit fee rate multiplied. That means a second car will be charged two times the base fee rate, or $250 ; a third car three times that rate, or $375 ; and a fourth car four times the rate, or $500.

Any car after the fourth vehicle will be charged five times the base fee rate, or $625.

Similarly, the RPZ program will have visitor and single-day permits at $10 each.

Another amendment makes clear that the Kalihi Valley RPZ established by the bill could be modified only the same way that all subsequent RPZ's could be modified.

Additional amendments would see RPZs prohibited within a half-mile of a shoreline or "legal " hiking and hunting areas, and that a "five-year reassessment date " be included, allowing the Council to consider future changes for the program.

Under the proposed bill, a restricted parking zone on a public street would be reserved "for the exclusive use of those vehicles displaying a valid RPZ permit or other identification issued by the director as part of the RPZ program."

In addition, parking on the street would be reserved during certain posted hours for vehicles displaying the RPZ permit or other identification issued by the DTS director, the bill reads. An ordinance, if approved, would establish time limits that apply to all permitted vehicles.

An approved ordinance would allow the city's Department of Transportation Services director to oversee the program and set and collect annual permit fees, while residents could, based on the city's yet-to-be-determined criteria, potentially lobby for future RPZs in their own neighborhoods.

Ultimately, the transportation committee voted to approve the Bill 20 amendments.

Prior to the vote, many from the city and public commented for and against the measure. Some, like local lobbyist and Kalihi resident Max Sword, affirmed the need for Bill 20.

"It's been a revelation and a very good, positive movement in the neighborhood, " Sword said of Kalihi Valley's restricted parking program. "And I urge your support of the measure."

Micah Munekata, representing the Ulupono Initiative, an organization that studies sustainability issues including those surrounding transportation, said managed parking, as proposed by Bill 20, can give the community more choices.

"Since 2000, population growth is just over 16 %, but vehicle growth is up 29 %—almost twice population growth, " he said. "Effective parking reform, according to a recent study, can reduce up to 29 % of our travel."

But resident James Manaku Sr. suggested part of the problem of having too many cars and too few parking spots lay with the development of so-called "monster houses " on Oahu.

"If we stop building all of these monster homes—these extra homes atop these big lots that we have—then we wouldn't have all these RP zones, " he said.

Resident Natalie Iwasa said she was opposed to spending the public's money on a restrictive program.

"Every year, you folks lament the funding for city services and the agreed-upon salary increases that are required to go through, and there's always this discussion about not having enough money, " she told Council members. "Then, here you are using taxpayer funds for a program that doesn't benefit the public as a whole and even costs us more money."

Likewise, Council member Val Okimoto—who voted to approve the latest amendments to Bill 20—voiced reservations over future program costs before her vote. Among other things, she noted the city's estimated cost to process RPZ permits was $280 per permit.

"My concern has been the fee structure, " said Okimoto, adding she did not favor expensive, city-subsidized programs. "But the fact that we're continuing to have parking programs that we're subsidizing ... I was hoping that the fee would be a little bit higher just so we are not overburdening our taxpayers."

Still, Dos Santos-Tam said the proposed fee structure would help "address some of the concerns about additional cars and the financial impact " to the city.

Next, the full City Council is expected to hold its third reading of Bill 20 at its meeting in early October.