It’s a popular parking lot for locals who venture into Waikiki. But changes are coming to prevent anyone from parking outside the Honolulu Zoo late at night. And it’s not sitting well, especially for the nearby businesses.

Those who use the lot say it’s convenient, reasonably priced, and safe during those late night hours. So they can’t understand why the city is closing it from midnight to five in the morning.

The city recently put up signs at the Honolulu Zoo parking lot saying starting January 22, it will be closed from midnight to five a.m. It took nearby businesses by surprise, specially those whose workers and customers use the lot during those overnight hours.

“Number one thing, safety. Safety, safety, safety! We have workers coming in at 4:30 in the morning so it’s really convenient for them to be able to pay there, park, come in to work, it’s well lit and a well known area,” said Ian Miller, general manager at Lulu’s Waikiki.

“It’s used a lot by people that live on the island, it’s used a lot by people that work on the island, and it’s used a lot by people that play in Waikiki, and that’s what it’s all about,” said Jack Law, owner of Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand.

Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand is open until two in the morning, as well as Lulu’s Waikiki. They point out that the parking lot is busy late at night because locals use it as a cheaper and more convenient option than the garages in Waikiki.

“Their biggest gripe is parking isn’t easy and the parking that is available is dear. So let’s not take that away,” said Law.

The Kapiolani Park Preservation Society says it supports the move by the city and has been pushing it for years because the parking lot is for those who visit the zoo and Kapiolani Park.

The president, Alethea Rebman, says the lot “… Became viewed by Waikiki businesses and hotels as their employee and customer parking lots… which pushes out zoo visitors and park users because they park there at all hours, not just when the park is closed.”
She adds, “The trust and court rules designed to keep the park ‘free and open to the public forever’ shouldn’t be chipped away.”

The councilman for the area, Tommy Waters, says he’s trying to get more answers from the city because he’s received numerous complaints from the nearby businesses. The city says it is currently reviewing the situation and will have more information at a later date.