If you think that converting a large parking lot from one dedicated to free parking (and never more than half full, even at that) into one that charges people to park is simply a matter of installing parking gates and ticket validators and dispensers, you’d be wrong, Wrong, WRONG. Well, maybe it is that simple in places other than the Shops at Wailea, but then we wouldn’t have much of a story.
Since the tony shopping complex in South Maui began charging people who wanted to shop there to park their cars last May, stories of Wailea auto drama have poured in. First there was the outrage from Shops tenants and customers that caused a delay in activating the gates. Then in August the county Fire Department complained about the gates and the narrow lanes in and out of the complex, leading to a long period of time when the gate arms pointed skyward. Now the Shops management–apparently still fielding complaints from people who think it’s unfair to charge them to park at a place where they already intend to spend money–is lowering the rates.
“We appreciate the input we have received from our retailers and customers,” states a Mar. 23 press release from Gilbert & Associates, which does public relations for the Shops. “The Shops at Wailea has updated its parking program to ensure the first-hour of parking is always free. We are pleased to announce that regardless of how long you spend at The Shops you will never be charged for the first hour.”
Gilbert & Associates also announced that retailers at the Shops will validate customers for three hours beyond that first free hour with a minimum $25 purchase.
“We are continuing to listen to customer feedback and are always striving to improve the parking program,” states the press release. “This program is being implemented to assist with monitoring cars that are not parking to shop at the center. This means customers will have more open parking for their shopping needs.”
Ha! More open parking! Even when the Maui Film Festival is going on–and people are told to park at the Shops and then take shuttles to and from the event–there was still plenty of parking there, even before the gates went in.