Kauai County officials weigh out additional options to charge visitors

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii travel numbers are exceeding pre-pandemic days and Garden Isle residents are feeling the heat.

“Going into restaurants or any type of places like grocery stores, the lines are outside the door,” said Amanda Smith, a Kauai resident. “It’s crazy, so as a resident I’m always wanting to get in and out of the store, but it’s literally impossible nowadays.”

Officials said Kauai is already working on overdrive and they are concerned when statewide travel and capacity restrictions will loosen up on July 8.

“I’m getting a lot of calls about restaurants being full for three month out,” said Mason Chock, vice chair of the Kauai County Council. “I went to Lappert’s the other day and they said they run out of ice cream every day. The capacity is not there to handle this opening of the doors.”

Parking, traffic and access to beach parks are frustrating residents. The Kauai County Council is conducting a parking study at Poipu and Hanalei’s Black Pot Beach to test its capacity limits.

“Could there be fees for visitors in the future? Certainly. What I think is emerging of this study is what we might be able to do to get visitors to pay their share of these infrastructure costs,” Chock said.

Entrance and parking fees are already required for visitors at Haena, Koke’e and Waimea Canyon. Some say enforcing it has been a challenge, however.

“I watch and I’ll see all these people get out of their cars and not a one of them put money in that little parking meter,” said Felicia Cowden, councilmember of Kauai County.

The Kauai Police Department issues parking citations daily in Haena and Ke’e. The Kauai County Council will wait for the results of the study and continue to find a balance for kama’aina and visitors.

“Now we have reserve stalls for them and now they can enjoy the area too. No system is perfect, but I think it’s something that we got to continue to monitor and develop,” Chock said. “It should be about the people here and not so much about people being a customer with a mindset that the customer is always right.”

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