Lawmaker aims to help residents frustrated with neighborhood parking crunch

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A Honolulu city council member is hoping to ease the parking crunch in some of Oahu’s most crowded neighborhoods.

Right now, it’s illegal for residents to park in front of their own driveway, but Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi says she’s hoping to change that after numerous complaints.

She’s proposing a solution, not just for her district, but other neighborhoods who have the same parking problems.

One frustrated viewer contacted us through the Report It feature on our website.

She told us Saint Louis Heights residents have been blocking their own driveways for years, due to lack of parking in the neighborhood.

“Sometimes we have to park way down, or sometimes we have to park way, way up (the hill),” agreed resident Pam French.

But they were recently warned that they can no longer do so.

The resident, who did not want to go on camera, told us that Honolulu police officers knocked on her door at around 11 p.m. to warn her about blocking her own driveway.

Kobayashi says she received so many complaints about the lack of street parking that she wants to try something new.

“We thought maybe we can allow the property owner to park in front of their own driveway, but they would have to have a permit, because we have to control who parks in front of a driveway,” she said.

She says her proposal applies only to residential areas, older neighborhoods where you have narrow roads and parking is limited to just one side of the street.

Only the property owner can apply for the permit and you can only get one. The cost would be around $10 a month, which is the cost to administer the fee.

She believes it will help older communities in Waipahu, Kalihi, and Maunalani Heights, where she says the parking problem is worse than ever.

“I guess there’s just more and more people, and because of the cost of housing, you have more generations of people living in one house, which wasn’t the case before,” Kobayashi said.

“I think it would be a fine idea,” French said. “If that was my home, I wouldn’t mind having that spot right in front of my driveway. It would make it a lot easier.”

There are some people who believe that changing the law could create other problems.

“(There are) people who don’t even live in this neighborhood who just choose to park their cars here for a while. There have been times when cars sit here for weeks at a time,” said resident Glen Posner.

Kobayashi says the policy has not been tried here before, but other cities have and the idea is worth exploring.

She’s currently drawing up the bill. It should get its first reading at the next council hearing on Feb. 22.

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