Ongoing Complaints Along Maui’s Scenic Hāna Highway Lead to 387 Parking Citations
387 Parking Citations Issued Along Hāna Highway
The Maui Police Department issued 387 parking citations and 83 warnings to violators on Hāna Highway between Haʻikū and Hāna town over a three week period from June 1 and June 23.
It’s part of an effort to mitigate and relieve traffic congestion and illegal parking along the scenic route that has grown with the recent return of tourism.
County and state officials worked together to install signs along the Hāna Highway, to discourage illegal parking by warning of a $35 no parking fine and a $200 surcharge for illegal stopping on a state highway.
Sign installation began June 10 at the Waikamoi Stream Bridge at Mile 10. A total of approximately 70 signs are being placed along problem areas identified for the increased fines including: Waikamoi Stream Bridge; Twin Falls; Bamboo Forest; Ching’s Pond; Waikani Bridge; Pua‘a Ka‘a Park; and Hanawī Bridge.
“I understand the anger and frustration of our residents, especially those who live in the Hāna region,” Mayor Victorino said. “I don’t believe these visitors would stop in the middle of the road or park illegally in their own hometowns and endanger the safety of others, so why are they doing it here?”
Until this recent change by the legislature, all unadjudicated parking fines went straight to the state to support the judicial system. With the new parking increase of a $200 surcharge, Mayor Victorino said it’s his understanding that it will go to the state Department of Finance, and each jurisdiction’s police department will get half of that fine for enforcement purposes.
Enforcement Conducted Amid Officer Shortage
“The Maui Police Department continues to operate with a tremendous shortage of staff. Eighty percent of our manpower is what we are dealing with right now. We are 20% short–that’s approximately 90 officers,” fewer than that is needed county-wide, according to Maui Mayor Michael Victorino.
According to the mayor, the Maui Police Department has been sending four to five extra officers out daily from the Wailuku Station to traverse the Highway between Twin Falls out to Hāna Town, and at times out towards Kaupō.
Also over the same three week period, Hāna officers have responded to more than 200 calls for service, and Wailuku officers have responded to more than 4,400 calls for service, for a range of emergencies.
“A choice must be made between enforcing parking violations or responding to the thousands of calls that MPD receives each week,” said Mayor Victorino. “I’m sure our citizens agree that enforcing crime is a higher priority than parking violations, but we are working toward other solutions.”
Mayor Victorino has met with officials at the MPD to discuss the possibility of establishing a category for parking enforcement officers. Another temporary solution, he said, may be augmenting the effort with Maui County Park Rangers, however both options require an agreement with the unions representing both groups.
“We’re still looking at other areas where we can help improve,” said Mayor Victorino. “We’ve been talking to SHOPO and UPW about adding parking enforcement officers or County Park rangers. Limiting access to Hāna Highway is not possible and towing cars from the area leaves visitors stranded with probably no service provider or no ability with a cell phone, and is a safety hazard,” he said.
Because federal funds were used in the state highway’s construction, county officials note that the idea of restricting or limiting access is prohibited except in the event of a health or safety crisis such as the COVID-19 outbreak.
During the pandemic, lawmakers re-evaluated tourism impacts and explored ideas surrounding traffic management in East Maui. Out of this discussion, a reservation system was born that is now in place at Waiʻānapanapa State Park, which had seen increased crowding and commercial tours. As of March 1, parking and entry fees were implemented for out-of-state visitors and commercial vehicles, requiring visitors to select a time slot, to spread out visitation across the day.
Long-Term Steps: Kahului Airport is “Over Capacity”
From a broader perspective, a list of long-term steps were identified to deal with overcrowding, visitor education and safe parking solutions.
During a press briefing on Friday, Mayor Victorino said Kahului Airport is “over capacity.”
“We have been meeting with airlines executives about limiting the airlift to Kahului Airport. That is the first step in many steps that we need to work on,” he said. “We’ve asked for our state Department of Transportation about gate issues… They are now looking at having people walk off the plane, get on the tarmac, jump on a bus and now come in from the tarmac to the terminal–an extremely dangerous condition.”
The mayor said he met with Maui District Airports Manager Marvin Moniz and Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation Director Ford Fuchigami to work on addressing these problem areas.
Once on island, visitor education is identified as a key component to ensure tourists are aware of proper protocols and policies. “My staff is asking hotels and rental car companies to educate tourists about Hāna Highway considerations,” said Mayor Victorino.
As visitors explore the island, “We are looking to paid parking and other types of parking facilities that are available not only in our parks, but along our roadways for a safe place for people to park and enjoy sightseeing.”
“This is a complex problem that requires many solutions,” Mayor Victorino said in a press release. “Solving it will require a new mindset and willingness to try new ideas. This is much bigger than passing new laws or assigning more police. Maui County needs the cooperation of the business sector, our community leaders and the visitors themselves. We must change the mindset and lack of courtesy that creates these situations in the first place.”