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.


Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Biafran War in Nigeria (1968) Vietnam War (1969-73), Iraq in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. 2 Emmys for documentaries. Married to journalist Denby Fawcett; one daughter. Brett Jones, foreign service officer, State Department.

4 replies on “Condo Parking Isn’t A Simple Yes Or No”

  1. Since when did a parking place become not a part of a unit? It appears to be an unethical money making scheme.

    1. Good article. I’d be surprised if there is a condo that has more parking stalls than the residents could use. Usually, in my experience, there are not enough parking stalls to meet the demands of the unit owners. If the developers are required to provide one or more stalls per unit, it at least allows the buyers the option of purchasing a stall. Putting the allocation/sale of stalls in the hands of the Association subjects that decision to condo politics which can be fierce and divisive. If there is doubt about the resistance to giving up cars, drive through any residential neighborhood and see the cars parked on the street while garages are used for home gyms, rec rooms, party rooms, storage, shops, etc.

    2. There are lots of places that already do this.This just makes it mandatory. It’s the same cost over time for those who need a space and less doe those who do not. It’s a win win.

  2. Parking always came with condo purchase. Maximizing development profit does not benefit the neighborhoods, where street parking becomes a zone of wits.
    Unchecked developments is the concern of our day.

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