Maui News

Proposal paves way for more public parking at coveted South Maui beach

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The red square shows possible public beach parking on a state parcel in yellow.

After years of sparring over beach parking at popular Keawakapu in South Maui, a new bill is paving the way for additional public parking on nearby state land.

Maui County Council in committee Tuesday voted unanimously to recommend approval for Bill 65, which gives the mayor the green light to enter an agreement with the state so a half-acre parcel of nearby state land can be cleared and used for public parking. 

The bill now heads to full council.

Before the council Government Relations, Ethics and Transparency Committee vote, Council Member Yuki Lei Sugimura called the measure “great progress” on a long-debated issue. 

“This is going to be huge for residents to be able to park,” she said.

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Shoreline advocate Kai Nishiki in testimony said she’s been working with Maui County’s administration to provide more public access at Keawakapu. Historically, residents have had to compete with nearby hotels and commercial tour users for spots. 

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“We look forward to providing more access to Keawakapu,” she said.

Nishiki credited Mayor Michael Victorino for his work on the bill. 

Victorino has said Maui County residents have “concerns about previous attempts to block public beach access in the area and a chronic lack of parking along South Kīhei Road for residents.”

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The mayor has been working on Park Maui, a plan to charge out-of-state visitors for parking at county beach parks.

Keawakapu’s public parking expansion, while still in its early stages, will fall under Park Maui in the future, county Budget Director Michele Yoshimura said during Tuesday’s meeting. 

County officials said a half-acre portion of the approximately 2.2-acre state Keawakapu parcel will be cleared of brush and used for about 50 stalls in a one-year deal with the state Board of Land and Natural Resources. 

Eventually, the county is working to get public parking on more of the state land. 

The portion of the parcel that will be converted to public parking soon if the bill is approved is filled with kiawe trees and will be cleared and prepared by the county at its own expense. 

The area is located off South Kihei Road and bordered on remaining sides by an access road, parking for the Mana Kai Maui and parking for the neighboring Days Inn by Wyndham Maui Oceanfront. 

Kehaulani Cerizo
Kehaulani Cerizo was born and raised on Maui and worked for nearly 15 years as a news reporter, copy editor and features editor at daily newspapers. She earned awards at The Maui News in Wailuku and at Today’s Local News in San Diego.
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