Hawaii Airport Parking Lots Suffer From Overcrowding, Thefts

April 10, 2023

Apr. 8—The situation has been aggravated by the growing popularity of peer-to-peer car-sharing, with local "hosts " parking their vehicles at airport lots for pickup by arriving passengers—even though it is illegal to do so.

KAHULUI—The parking crunch at Hawaii's busiest airports might ease under a measure nearing final consideration at the Legislature authorizing the state Department of Transportation to regulate Turo rentals and other "shared cars " that take up limited parking spaces at state airports.

The state House passed Senate Bill 1502 on Thursday after amending the proposal, which also authorizes the counties to regulate the parking of shared cars on highways under their jurisdiction and amends the required insurance coverage for vehicles used for peer-to-peer car-sharing to quadruple the minimum liability coverage for death, bodily injury and property damage per accident.

The bill was transmitted to the state Senate for possible further action.

It's not unusual for DOT to issue advisories for holiday weekends and other busy travel periods about limited parking availability at state airports, or to send alerts when certain airport lots are over capacity. As recently as March 16, DOT announced that the Lihue Airport parking lot was full and that vehicles would be allowed in on a "one-in /one-out policy."

The situation has been aggravated by the growing popularity of peer-to-peer car-sharing, with local "hosts " parking their vehicles at airport lots for pickup by arriving passengers—even though it is illegal to do so.

"Yes, it is illegal for anyone to do commercial business on airports grounds without a permit. Taxis, tour buses, rental car companies all have permits to conduct business on airport grounds, " said DOT spokesperson Jai Cunningham.

In recent months, parking issues, including a spate of auto thefts, have cropped up at Kahului Airport, Hawaii's second-busiest airport.

Heading into the Easter weekend, the Turo website showed 200-plus vehicles available for pickup at the Maui airport. Some of the listings provide instructions for picking up vehicles from the airport lot using lockboxes, while others note that vehicles were parked a few minutes away in the surrounding commercial area or offer personal pickup and drop-off by the Turo host.

On Thursday morning ample parking was available in the back half of the public lot at the Maui airport, and a number of vehicles were spotted with telltale lockboxes attached next to the rear license plate.

The practice is not endorsed by Turo, according to the company. "Turo reminds hosts throughout the year to conduct vehicle exchanges off airport property and has a that requires compliance with parking regulations. Failure to comply may result in punitive action from Turo, " the company said in a statement to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Turo spokesperson Catherine Mejia said in a statement that the company "supports SB 1502 in its current form as it prioritizes the safety of our guests and hosts in Hawaii. The peer-to-peer car-sharing industry not only provides residents with economic opportunities but also enhances mobility options and expands consumer choice."

Daniel K. Inouye International Airport has 5, 500 public parking stalls ; Kahului Airport, 1, 650 ; Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole, 1, 450 ; Lihue Airport, 570 ; and Hilo International Airport, 475.

To accommodate the parking crush over the most recent Christmas and New Year's period, Kahului Airport moved its employee parking to its rental car facility, opening up a few hundred more stalls for the public. The airports in Kona and Lihue also have taken steps when needed to increase parking availability.

Cunningham said there are no plans to expand any of the airport parking lots, which are also used by airport employees.

The state agency acknowledges that car-share vehicles taking up spaces meant for the public "has been an issue at our airports. We have authored up solutions, " he said. "In Lihue, we have worked with Turo putting them in touch with property managers at four off-site locations to keep our public parking lot open for users of the airport."

The problem has become more evident on Maui, which recorded 2.91 million visitor arrivals in 2022, representing 95.1 % recovery from the pre-pandemic 2019 total, according to state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism statistics.

DOT Airports Maui District Manager Marvin Moniz was not available for comment this week, but told MauiNow.com in December that about 200 citations had been issued to Turo hosts in the previous six months.

Meanwhile, in the first three months of 2023, the Maui airport has seen 28 vehicles stolen from its parking lot, according to Cunningham, similar to what happened almost two years ago at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport when DOT in July 2021 reported a series of auto thefts at parking lots there. The agency said 12 of the 13 thefts at the time were associated with car-sharing or peer-to-peer rentals.

"Kahului has had some issues lately, " Cunningham said, and DOT is working closely with the Maui Police Department "in issuing warnings to let people know that dropping off a car to be picked up by a renter is illegal and dangerous."

He said DOT and MPD together have been successful in clamping down on illegal car-share parking and vehicle thefts at Kahului Airport while officials seek long-term remedies.

"We are hoping to find a similar solution at (Kahului ) as we have in Lihue with off-site drop-off locations, " he added.

Airport parking safety


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