Residents baffled after dozens of parked vehicles ticketed within days

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A move to ease parking problems led to dozens of vehicles getting ticketed over a three-day period, and some drivers are still wondering what they did wrong.

It happened in Maunalani Heights. People who have lived there for years, parking their vehicles on the street, asked us to look into it.

We learned Honolulu police handed out 38 tickets on Nov. 13, and 18 more two days later. But why now, and why is parking there illegal?

Residents are in disbelief because it’s something they’ve always done with no problems. They say it’s also safer than what the law requires them to do.

Resident Ben Komer still can’t understand it. He’s been parking on the same street in front of his house for years and never got a ticket. In one day, he and two of his tenants each got a ticket for obstructing the sidewalk.

“For the last eight years, the thinking is get as close to the wall as possible to get your vehicle out of the street, you know, safety,” he said.

HPD says the parking violations were for those who were parking in what’s known as an unimproved sidewalk, where there are no actual sidewalks but drivers are still supposed to leave enough room for pedestrians.

HPD says an unimproved sidewalk is the area between the roadway and the property line. Whether it’s grassy or paved, it’s still considered a sidewalk so parking is illegal and can lead to a $35 fine.

Residents say they’ve been parking this way for years. Otherwise their cars would be sticking too far out into the street.

“I do live on a very blind turn here and there’s people that just come screaming up here sometimes, and if my car is out in the middle of the street, I’m going to hear a crash in the middle of the night, and then what?” Komer said.

HPD says the law is only enforced when there’s a complaint, and the department received one from Councilman Trevor Ozawa’s office. But Ozawa says that’s not true.

“We had a couple of concerned residents in the area saying there’s not enough parking and what is the city going to do about that. That’s the inquiry that we made on behalf of that constituent in Maunalani Heights,” he said.

Ozawa says it must have been misinterpreted, so now he’s looking into changing the law that will allow residents to park on the unimproved sidewalks.

“In addition, my office is willing to write a letter to the prosecutor’s office, asking that all those infractions up there in the Maunalani Heights area be tossed out because of the fact that this is a miscommunication,” he said.

KHON2 asked a spokesman from the mayor’s office who says the Department of Transportation Services received a letter from the councilman, but the city did not ask HPD to enforce any parking regulations.

We’ll follow up to see where the miscommunication actually happened.

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