The Explainer: Paid Parking for Visitors is Coming—How Will it Affect You?

For more than eight years, Maui County has been gearing up to collect parking fees at certain county beaches and parks, and at public parking areas in the heart of busy towns like Lahaina and Wailuku. Consultants were hired, meetings were held, and the result is Park Maui—a new parking management program that officials assure us will generate revenue from visitors and improve access to parking for residents. How’s it gonna work?

Courtesy Park Maui

Officials from the County Department of Management have said the concerns of Maui residents will be given priority. It’s not written in stone, but here’s the current plan:

Payment kiosks will be placed at pilot locations, including Ulua and Mokapu Beaches and the Kamaole Beach Parks in Kihei, followed by Lahaina and Wailuku. Payment can be made via credit or debit card either at the kiosk or using a mobile app. The car is identified by entering the license plate number. Discounted weekly and monthly passes will be offered. Revenue from fees and citations would be invested in the facilities or used for park maintenance and transportation infrastructure. 

Visitors will pay a flat daily rate, while residents who register will enjoy free parking at county beaches and parks. In order to register, residents will need to enter or scan their driver’s license with a Maui County zip code. At the beach, you’ll have to enter your plate number into the app or kiosk.

Parked cars will be monitored using license plate recognition technology. Some view this as a privacy issue, but, on the plus side, the app could provide users with information about the availability of parking spaces in real time.

To avoid abuse, the system will allow only one car at a time to be parked using each resident’s driver’s license. As a perk for locals, parking at the designated beaches will be reserved for residents until 10 a.m.

Kiosks are slated to be installed at the pilot beach parks by next summer. Implementation of the program in Lahaina and Wailuku will come later. Visitors and residents will pay an hourly fee at county lots and garages, but residents registered with Park Maui may be given a discounted rate and parking fees might be waived for certain morning hours. Workers at downtown businesses can purchase an employee parking pass at a special rate, and low-income workers can request an even bigger discount.

Residents who park in the heart of our two most crowded towns may have to pay to park. On the other hand, “locals only” at the beach in the morning sounds pretty cool. What’s the worry? For one, the issuing and processing of citations will be handed over to an outside vendor and the appeals process remains uncertain. Not everyone is comfortable sharing their personal information with a county contractor. Own a home or business here, but drive with a license from another state, or even another county? Tough luck. 

Dan Collins