The immediate problem with the Honolulu City Council’s Bill 2 on new condo parking stalls is that it’s mainly “social engineering.”
The definition of that is “the use of centralized planning in an attempt to manage social change and regulate the future development and behavior of a society.”
The original Bill 2 version did not require a condo developer to include enough parking stalls for all the occupants. The city administration supported that. Mayor Kirk Caldwell told the Star-Advertiser “for me, less parking means less cars.” He obviously prefers people walking, biking and using mass transit.
But Americans can be ornery cusses. We like change to be at our pace, not government’s. That was at the heart of this year’s presidential election.
We’re not ready to give up cars (or even switch to electric ones.) So if there’s no condo parking, you park on the street, where the early bird gets the worm — the last parking space.
So the Bill 2 sponsors went back to the rewrite desk and altered the proposal. Developers could include less parking (which in theory would bring down the cost of a condo unit), hand parking over to the condo association, or provide full parking.
That doesn’t satisfy those who prefer the social engineering model that they see as less air polluting, less traffic, fewer cars that mainly use fossil fuels we’d like to get rid of.
The original bill by councilman Ron Menor said no off-street parking is required in the Primary Urban Center Development Plan area and Ewa Development Plan areas, except for those areas located in the residential, agricultural, and preservation zoning districts.
Also, no off-street parking was required in any zoning district within one half-mile of an existing or future Honolulu Rail Transit Station or in the Transit-Oriented Development Special District.
Again — social engineering. Walk or use the bus in town. Use the rail transit (if it’s ever up and running) in the suburban areas.
One excellent part of this proposed legislation is the “unbundling.” If you buy a condo unit, you don’t have to pay for that parking stall. If you want one, you deal with the condo association.
There’s even a money-making scheme in play. I have an acquaintance who works through condo managers to find unit owners who don’t use their parking stall. So he rents them to tourists who don’t want to pay those exorbitant parking fees at hotels. He shares the income with the stall owner. It’s big money when we have tourism.
Anyway, my advice would be to stand back and look at the current Bill 2 version from all angles. We should be wary of any give-backs to developers on height, open space, etc., which we too often hand out.
I like encouraging cheaper units by eliminating non-income-producing parking space, but if that just increases on-street parking, then there’s little public benefit.
I don’t see a simple yes or no vote on this one.