Council advances overnight parking ban

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HILO — Over the objections of some local businesses, the County Council on Wednesday advanced a bill closing the parking lot between Kuakini Highway and Likana Lane from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m.

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HILO — Over the objections of some local businesses, the County Council on Wednesday advanced a bill closing the parking lot between Kuakini Highway and Likana Lane from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m.

The council voted 6-0 to send Bill 239 to its second and final reading after discussing whether businesses that had been using the free parking lot for years could be somehow grandfathered in.

That approach was favored by Brett Curtis, an official with the Youth With A Mission Christian missionary group. He said his organization uses 18 of the 120 spaces in the lot overnight, in addition to eight spaces it has on-site at its nearby location.

“I’m just not sure emptying the parking lot at night will do anything for the daytime,” Curtis said.

He suggested that the county look at ticketing vehicles that are in the lot for more than 24 hours at a time. Homeless drivers camping overnight, however, haven’t been a real problem there, he said.

Bill sponsor Dru Kanuha of Kona, the council chairman, pushed for passage, saying vehicles parking overnight take way from resident and visitor parking for shopping and sightseeing in Kailua Village. The bill would make spaces more available while keeping parking free, he said.

He said his family has lived in the area for generations.

“It’s been decades of complaints that have led to this,” Kanuha said. “I’m looking out for the entire community here.”

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At a Sept. 20 meeting of the council’s Committee on Public Works and Parks and Recreation, Public Works Director Warren Lee said a gate or chain across the lot may be used to avoid having to cite or tow offenders. The committee at that time voted 9-0 to send the bill to first reading with a positive recommendation.

North Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff, who at the committee hearing had voiced concerns that people frequenting local bars might try to drive themselves home rather than leaving their cars in the lot and taking a cab home, continued to support the bill Wednesday.

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