On an island where parking can come at a premium, residents, businesses and anyone looking for a spot to park on Robello lane in Kalihi are left in disbelief when they pull up to see concrete barriers blocking off a newly paved parking lot.
“It was an eyesore before when it was just gravel and people used it to dump. Now it’s back to being, look at it, it’s now another eyesore,” said Mike Irish, CEO of Diamond Head Seafood Wholesale.
Irish runs his business just up the street on Robello lane. He’s still baffled at why the city would block of the parking lot that he says everyone in the area has benefited from. Irish and others say this lot used to be run down and littered with drug activity.
“Now we feel safe but before we were really worried and we made sure none of our people came down to this end of Robello lane and just stayed more up by our shop,” said Irish.
The Robello Group LLC. owns the building next to the parking lot and it’s owner says he spent around $30,000 to clean up the area and pave the lot. The problem is that the parcel isn’t owned by the Robello Group, instead it’s owned by the city who says the improvements are illegal.
“Public property is not designed to be used by any one individual or any group of individuals for any personal gain or personal benefit,” said Ross Sasamura, the City’s Department of Facility Maintenance Director.
In this case, it was the building owner making money off of renting stalls. That’s why the city says it stepped in.
“The barriers went up to curtail the unauthorized activity and they’ll remain in place until such time there is a need to remove them,” said Sasamura.
Still, some residents say they don’t mind paying to park, especially when the barriers have led to damages of their cars.
“It’s hard, it’s hard because you know why, the other day my niece banged the post,” said Rogelio Tan, a resident.
Those who use the stalls want the barriers removed and they hope to work with the city to find a solution.
“I think it could easily be a win win for everybody and I’m hoping we can come to that type of conclusion,” said Irish.
One solution that the city says its exploring is doing a story term lease of the land so someone could temporarily operate a legal parking lot.
Another option would be selling the land but the city says it has yet to put the property up for sale. That would have to be approved by the City Council first. If it goes that route the city expects to complete the sale by the end of the year.