Visitors to Makena State Park don't have to worry about their cars being ticketed if they park outside the lines.
State enforcement officers won't issue citations for people who park on the dirt or gravel in the first parking lot at the popular South Maui beach park, said Randy Awo, Maui branch chief of the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement.
A DLNR officer on Thursday asked some beachgoers to move their cars outside the parking lot because unpaved areas were soft from recent rains, Awo said.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
George “Dr. Leisure” Harker (right) talks with Kihei residents Harvey and Suzie Chapman on Friday near the exit to the first parking lot at Makena’s Oneloa Beach. The Chapmans said that they heard parking tickets were being given Thursday, so they arrived early to the popular beach, just in time to land the last paved parking stall.
He added that the officer felt everyone was compliant and didn't know that "people were getting upset" over his request.
Awo surmised that the officer didn't want anyone to get stuck in the soft areas or cause damage to parking areas, since the state does not have money to make repairs because of the budget crisis.
Visitors to the park Thursday said they were surprised and concerned that an officer was telling people that they couldn't park in areas they had used for years. They said the officer told them that it was a law always in effect that people had to park in designated areas. Visitors said there were no signs or information saying that parking wasn't allowed in certain areas.
Awo said he recognized that "it does raise questions" when there is a sudden change from usual practices.
He said Friday that he'd spoken to Phil Ohta, state parks division chief on Maui, and both agreed to place more signs informing drivers they may park in some areas outside of marked stalls.
The signs will be placed next week at the first parking lot, since it has enough room for off-pavement parking.
Posting signs would mean that drivers who park outside the lines are still in compliance with the law, he noted.
In the meantime, Awo said, people will not be cited if they park in nonpaved and nonmarked areas in the parking lot.
Awo said there was only one vehicle that received citations on Thursday, for parking out of a stall and for having an expired safety check and delinquent motor vehicle tax.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.