Okay, I admit it, I muddled the lead because I wanted to riff on Joni Mitchel’s song. The real problem isn’t enough parking lots, it’s too many cars. Yesterday morning, far too early, I woke up and went to sell at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet. It was a good first experience there – I was mobbed before light by vendors and early birds who knew that I was fresh meat – and then I stayed four hours in a not very good location and still made more than a day of work at my day job. By noon, I was home and loading my family into the car for a day at the beach – now to be fair – I should have known better than to head to Waikiki on a Sunday – but that was where the girls wanted to go and I figured we would find parking somewhere…I was wrong. We had plate lunches in the back of the car getting cold and by 1:30 we had not found a single parking space but I nearly got in fisticuffs with another guy who decided to zip by me when I thought I found a space (it was a fire hydrant) and then changed my mind. His road rage was such that I thought he might ram my car with his truck and then he started yelling and making threatening gestures and me, I just ignored him and drove on knowing that my wife and daughter were in the car and that engaging with a road rager put them in danger – eventually, he stopped following me. Granted, I did veer in front of him – which was an accident – but it wouldn’t have been a big deal if he hadn’t of decided to try to zip around me at a high and unexpected speed. So, there we were – lunch getting cold, not finding a parking space, and everyone in the car getting grumpy while other drivers were doing the same. Finally, I decided to give up and we headed to Ala Moana beach park where there is more parking usually – or used to be. One parking lot was shut down with a sign “shut down for workers’ – on a Sunday? And the only space we saw open up had three people lined up waiting for it. After two hours of wanting to enjoy the beach but instead being in the car, I was done. We weren’t going to go to Waikiki or Ala Moana so instead we drove East to Aina Haina and found a parking space close enough to a nice little rocky beachpark where we ate our pokebowls and I taught the girls how to snorkel. It was a lovely afternoon – but the parking thing. Parking isn’t the problem. Cars on Oahu are the problem. Cars need to be removed and banned from this island. I love my personal vehicle as much as the next guy, but the problem is too far gone. Cars are destroying the Hawaiian vibe – to a large extent have already destroyed it. I have the solution – it wouldn’t be impossible but people wouldn’t like it until they realized just how good it is. Step 1) A taxpayer funded buyback of clunkers and low value cars. $1000-$1500 per vehicle for any and all vehicles with no title, paperwork, running or not running. Ship all those cars to a junker on the mainland to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. This would also include all the abandoned vehicles and impounded vehicles. If the transport to the mainland could be negotiated well, this could actually result in a profit for taxpayers.
Step 2) A moratorium on new vehicles being brought to the island. For each vehicle brought to Hawaii, a vehicle would need to be exported. Auto dealerships would need to buy and export as many vehicles as they intend to sell. Thise would create a brisk business for future clunkers and abandoned vehicles. The same rule would apply to car rental agencies. Trade in values would go up with dealers. Step 3) A ban on military POVs (personally owned vehicles). Our troops don’t need to bring their huge Iowa trucks and their spouses and children’s vehicles to Oahu. The military could be a good neighbor with this policy and could also provide additional transport options for garrissoned troops like buses, military taxis, etc. Step 4 – This one would be very controversial – banning vehicles from downtown Honolulu, banning personal vehicles from Waikiki and from Ala Moana. Setting up park and ride lots nearby with free shuttle service to these areas.
I realize that banning cars in the United States is about as realistic as banning guns – but the truth is – cars are turning paradise into a parasite (hat tip to my wife for that one) by sucking the time and the joy from people without them even knowing it.