Coveted permits worth waiting for, campers say
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer
Those aren't protesters gathering in front of the Fasi Municipal Building and Kapolei Hale. They're campers literally camping out for a camping permit.
City park rules state camping enthusiasts can seek reservations on a first-come, first-serve basis no earlier than two Fridays prior to the camping period requested.
So families hoping to grab a good camping spot for the Memorial Day weekend will get their one, and likely only, chance at 8 a.m. today.
Kalihi resident Andy Ramos, first in line at the Municipal Building, said he set down his lawn chair in front of the South King Street building at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Ramos, who came with three other family members, said he wants to secure a camping spot at Waimānalo Beach Park for his family that is "close to the water ... and there's a sink setup for washing."
It's become a traditional thing for his family to wait overnight for a camping permit. "We do this for Memorial Day, sometimes the Fourth of July and, of course, Labor Day," said Ramos, a 58-year-old retired glazier.
The Ramos family came a day earlier this time, anticipating more people will be in line today because it's a furlough Friday.
Ramos and his family came armed with lawn chairs, blankets, and coolers filled with soda, water and snacks. "And in the evening, we run to Zippy's," he said.
Wai'anae resident Mauna Kekua said she traveled to Honolulu to get in line for a camping permit at Mā'ili Beach Park after learning that at least 20 people were already camped out at Kapolei Hale.
Kekua, who showed up in line with her family at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, said she has no choice but to get a permit. Granddaughter Braeley's second birthday party is scheduled to be held at Mā'ili on the Memorial Day weekend.
"We already gave out the invitations!" Kekua said. "It's a must we get a permit, and there are only 12 campsites (at Mā'ili)."
Kekua suggested that she and others wouldn't need to stand in line for days if the city established more campsites.
City Parks Director Lester Chang said he and his staff are looking at both creating new sites at the 14 existing O'ahu camping areas as well as in areas that have no campsites.
All O'ahu campsites are "pretty slammed" throughout the summer, and especially during the three summertime holiday weekends, Chang said.
It's common for all the permits to be gone during the first day they're available, Chang said. In fact, "I'm pretty comfortable in saying they'll go in a couple of hours."
Besides the municipal building and Kapolei Hale, permits will also be issued from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Wahiawā and Windward satellite city hall locations.
An applicant must be 18 or older, and may only obtain one permit at a time. Each permit accommodates up to 10 people and two family-sized tents.