Traffic Fix, Hanauma Problems

Bob Jones
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Wednesday - June 29, 2005
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The critics probably are right. The rail system is not by itself going to solve our traffic problem. It will not be selfsupporting with just rider fees. It will not get us out of our cars right away.

Families have two working parents and kids in various after-school activities. That means two cars doing different- place pickups and dropoffs, plus mom and dad’s work and shopping and social needs.

The sensible road-jam solution would have been to put a limit on car importation years ago, to raise all vehicle weight taxes to make two-vehicle households expensive, increase the tax on non-resident car rentals, and impose a big special-use tax on each new vehicle sale or importation.

I don’t know if the loudest boos will come from twovehicle families or the car sales business that’s a source of major advertising revenue for newspapers, radio and TV.

But the good side of my taxing proposal is that it would discourage the sale of new vehicles while adding revenue to the rail transit pot.

An easy exception to the new-vehicle-sale edict would be a certificate from a buyer that he had scrapped or removed from the state another vehicle he owned at the time of the sale.

We need to economically force people to begin figuring out schedules that will enable them to use rail/buses and then make sure we provide them with sufficient ways to meet their needs if they live in suburban, exurban or rural areas.

Meanwhile, keeping better track of vehicle ownership in order to catch the many loopholes and scams that will pop up also will help us keep better track of people avoiding insurance coverage.

I’ll surely hear from the car dealers on this. It will toss people out of work. It will kill advertising. It’s against the American Way of Life.

But while I’m hearing, I’d hope to hear from some state lawmakers that they think there’s enough merit to warrant scheduling off-session hearings.

That Hanauma Bay usage thing keeps popping up and hitting us in the face, and nobody at the top clearly deals with it.

It was in the ’80s, during one of the Fasi administrations, that I first raised the “commercialization” issue in a report broadcast on KGMBTV. That’s when tour operators were not only taking large groups for snorkel and scuba outings there, they were hauling down portable kitchens and providing sit-down, catered lunches.

Much to his credit, then parks director Walter Ozawa jumped on the problem and that’s when the first system was set up to permit a limited number of daily water tours and stop use of the beach area as a dining room.

But as all residents know, the popularity of the bay, especially with Japanese tour groups, kept growing. Many years have passed since local residents made much use of the place. It was always too crowded with tourists feeding frozen peas and bread to the fish — who became increasing aggressive and started biting children’s fingers.

Then came Mayor Harris’s re-do of the park entrance, the controlled parking lot, the admission fee and the education center. Also rules against “tours” and a new permit system for dive shops who would outfit clients with masks and snorkels, drop them off and pick them up.

The system has never worked. Taxi and van operators quickly found ways to cheat. They claim to just be dropping off casual passengers, but everyone knows they are running outlawed tours. So don’t shed one tear of sympathy as they moan that “You’re trying to kill our humble businesses, Bob.”

The system at Hanauma Bay is broken. The bay is still overused. And we must devise a way to keep some of our best parks and recreation areas available primarily for those who live here.

You can’t make it “Residents Only.”

You can charge a discouraging $20 fee for non-residents and make entrance free for residents. You can close the bay on weekends to all but residents with an ID card. You can close the bay to everyone on more than just the current Tuesdays. That would not only let it rest, it might begin discouraging tourists as word gets out that the bay’s often not available.

Drastic situations need drastic solutions.

Or we can just let this one stagnate — the way we did with the Oahu traffic problem.

The local — and vocal — anti-communist Vietnamese community must be going apoplectic to see Vietnam’s very-communist prime minister Khai being given the friend-of-the-house treatment on his first visit to America.

The no-commies-allowed expatriates here got all upset even when the famous Water Puppet Theater performed at the Waikiki Shell and pressured expat Vietnamese suppliers not to help feed them. At a recent U.S. memorial ceremony at Punchbowl, they were permitted to fly the flag of the former Vietnam military government — an odd bit of protocol.

They need to let go, if only for practical reasons. Vietnam is in the United Nations, is our Asian hedge against China and may soon allow the U.S. naval basing rights. We do lots of business there.

We have an embassy in Hanoi. My daughter, Brett Jones, lives in that capital and directs tens of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Vietnam’s not on George W’s axis of evil list.

Somebody’s decided we can live with those bad-humanrights communists, even if not with others.

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