Taxis spark controversy at popular attraction

Local News

Thousands of people visit Diamond Head Monument State park every day, but the state fears several problems are putting a black eye on the popular tourist attraction.

“Everyone wants to get up there and get to the peak and look out over Waikiki,” said Diamond Head Citizens Advisory Committee member Clark Hatch.

From people who live in Hawaii, to the tourists, and even taxis, Diamond Head is very popular.

But The Department of Land and Natural Resources is worried about some taxi drivers not following the rules.

“Unfortunately we have a lot of illicit taxi drivers in there blocking traffic, parking illegally, soliciting for fares, and fighting for fares,” said Curt Cottrell with the Department of Land and Natural Resources. “I do know and I have seen the taxi drivers being very aggressive and following hikers as they leave trying to make deals.”

Taxi drivers are allowed to enter Diamond Head, but they can only pick up and drop off customers.

“They are conducting commercial activity inside the state park,” said Cottrell “If they were just dropping off their patrons there is not a problem, but they are essentially setting up shop and that is going to trigger the commercial regulation.”

So what is the DLNR doing to address the issue?

“What we are doing is working to establish an authorized area for the taxis and we will spend some money and make it look nice ,but in the same time we are going to be requiring that they have permits to use that area.”

The area would be close to where the taxis are currently parking. It would only allow five to six taxis to wait in the lot.

“I think it will be an improvement, but I think in addition to adding the roundabouts they are going to have to enforce the rules and they will need someone up there to look after it,” said Hatch.

The state is also getting some help from the city who is conducting random compliance checks. So far 12 citations have been given out to taxi drivers at Diamond Head.

“They have been in Diamond Head at least two times and their actions will help bring these guys into greater compliance with the city and county ordinances,” said Cottrell. “We need taxis, but we don’t need them to behave this way.”

“Some are doing good, but unfortunately the bad ones are showing through and that is what everyone is talking about,” said Hatch.

The state also says there is a growing homeless issue at Diamond Head State Park.

They have done sweeps of the area, but officials are now saying it is a “chronic problem.”

The DLNR says it is working with the administration to solve the issue.

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