USAG-HI discourages motorists from parking on grass

| February 2, 2017 | 0 Comments
USAG-HI is discouraging motorists from parking on berms and other unauthorized areas.

USAG-HI is discouraging motorists from parking on berms and other unauthorized areas.

By Karen A. Iwamoto
Staff Writer

Because parking is a premium on U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii installations, many motorists end up parking on berms or other areas that are not authorized parking stalls.

While that solves their problem in the short term, it can lead to erosion of the grass cover, which in turn leads to increased runoff during rainstorms.

This puts the garrison at risk of exceeding its runoff limits under its contract with the State of Hawaii, which is responsible for monitoring pollutants in storm drains for the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, said Rhonda Suzuki, chief of the Environmental Division of USAG-HI’s Directorate of Public Works.

“We have to tell the state what pollutants are going into the storm drains. We are in danger of exceeding our limits,” Suzuki added. “It is possible we could be penalized.”

Her office has put up wooden stakes and cordoned off affected areas to deter motorists from parking in unauthorized zones and to allow the grass to regrow.

“We wanted a way to tell people, ‘Don’t park here,’” Suzuki said. “To help the grass recover, we are trying to change the culture (of how people park).

“It’s like when people go to the mall or the store,” she added. “They’re going to try and park as close to the entrance as possible rather than drive further out to find a parking stall and then walk to the store.”

She pointed out there is a regulation regarding parking on installations; at this time, the emphasis is on educating drivers and encouraging them to re-evaluate their parking habits.

“We acknowledge we have a problem, a challenge,” she said. “While U.S. Army Hawaii policy is not to park on grass, we realize there is a problem with finding enough (authorized) parking.”

In other words, while physical restrictions to protect the grass should prevent erosion and runoff, it doesn’t solve the issue of providing enough authorized parking spaces.

To address that issue, the Directorate of Emergency Services has towed approximately 300 abandoned cars from Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Army Air Field since October, thereby freeing up stalls, said Dan Brush, deputy director of DES.

The abandoned cars were left behind by Soldiers who made permanent changes of stations to other bases, Brush said. Some of the cars were not in running order and had leaking oil pans, thereby presenting additional environmental concerns, he added.

He reminded Soldiers that they should dispose of their inoperable vehicles properly before PCSing.

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Parking on USAG-HI Installations

Parking on USAG-HI installations is covered in the U.S. Army Hawaii Traffic Code, Regulation 190-5, which can be found at www.garrison.hawaii.army.mil; click on “garrison policies,” then select the “publications” tab. Policies and procedures regarding the towing and disposal of abandoned vehicles are also outlined in this regulation.

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