Controversial Beach Parking Fees on Kauai

Kauai County is set to impose a new parking fee policy that has so far proven unusually controversial. The $10 parking fee will be charged at three of The Garden Island’s most popular beaches: Hanalei’s Black Pot, Wailua’s Lydgate, and (by far the most popular as far as cars are concerned) Poipu Beach. It will also reportedly be imposed only on non-residents. 

Why these beaches? They were designated after a study conducted earlier this year by the Department of Parks and Recreation which tracked how many cars each beach saw per day. The Department themselves stated within the study that it may not be an accurate representation of “normal” traffic due to a variety of situational factors at the time the study was conducted, and that the actual daily average may be considerably higher across the board.

Regardless, the study still concluded emphatically that these popular parks are being vastly overused. One of the most severe consequences of this overuse is its resulting in numerous visitors parking illegally and often in dangerous locations, be they off the side of the road or elsewhere.

Why only non-locals? This is a more controversial point. According to Beat of Hawaii, one of the proposed methods for enforcing the fee is to charge only rental cars; thereby effectively targeting tourists and avoiding local residents. The efficacy of this approach has been questioned, as has the likelihood that paid parking will indeed discourage illegal parking as intended, even if heavy fines are also threatened for violations.

This is surely part of a statewide move to actually reduce the quantity, and thereby increase the quality, of tourism in Hawaii. Moves like these will likely continue to roll out over the coming months and years. But will this one work? Despite being unanimously approved by the Kauai City Council, the bill seems to have many divided.

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