At his briefing today, Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino detailed mitigation efforts to relieve traffic congestion and illegal parking that have coincided with the recent return of tourism to the island of Maui.
“I understand the anger and frustration of our residents, especially those who live in the Hana region,” Mayor Victorino said. “I don’t believe these visitors would stop in the middle of the road or park illegally in their own hometowns and endanger the safety of others, so why are they doing it here?”
Since the return of tourism during spring break, Mayor Victorino has worked with state legislators to install approximately 70 signs along the road to Hana to discourage illegal parking by warning of a $35 no parking fine and a $200 surcharge for illegal stopping on a state highway.
Between June 1 and June 23, the Maui Police Department issued 389 parking citations and 83 warnings to violators on Hana Highway between Haiku and Hana town. Similar to other organizations after the pandemic, MPD is short of manpower and operating with 90 fewer officers than needed.
“A choice must be made between enforcing parking violations or responding to the thousands of calls that MPD receives each week,” explained Mayor Victorino. “I’m sure our citizens agree that enforcing crime is a higher priority than parking violations, but we are working toward other solutions.”
Mayor Victorino has met with MPD officials to discuss the possibility of establishing a category for parking enforcement officers. Another temporary solution may be augmenting the effort with Maui County Park Rangers, however both options require an agreement with the unions representing both groups.
As the Mayor’s Office works through these challenges, other possible solutions have been discussed, including restricting access to Hana Highway. However, because federal funds were used in the state highway’s construction, limiting access is prohibited except in the event of a health or safety crisis such as the COVID-19 outbreak.
Towing the vehicles of violators has also been discussed, but it has been determined that a safety hazard would result from stranding people without transportation in remote rural areas without reliable cellphone service. He has also reached out to the state for additional enforcement support.
The mayor recently met with airline executives to determine their willingness to voluntarily reduce airlift into Kahului Airport. Similarly, he has met with State of Hawaii officials, including Ford Fuchigami, an administrator in the state DOT Airports Division, and Maui Airports District Manager Marvin Moniz about gate congestion at Kahului Airport. The airport is now operating over capacity.
At the same time, Mayor’s Office staff members have been talking with hotel and car rental management to request their help in educating their customers about consideration for the people and places of Maui County.
“This is a complex problem that requires many solutions,” explained Mayor Victorino. “Solving it will require a new mindset and willingness to try new ideas. This is much bigger than passing new laws or assigning more police. Maui County needs the cooperation of the business sector, our community leaders and the visitors themselves. We must change the mindset and lack of courtesy that creates these situations in the first place.”