Officials are trying to find a solution to an overflow of cars parked at the Haines airport, some of which are double- and triple-parked and left for days, weeks, even months.

The Haines airport parking lot is unique in that there are no restrictions, said Lynette Campbell, leasing chief for the Haines airport.

“Some (airports) charge for parking,” Campbell said. In Sitka, for example, Campbell said there are strict time limits on parking, and the lot is patrolled by the city police.

“Haines airport has none of that,” she said. “There’s no signage indicating any sort of parking rules.”

Now, Campbell said, airline passengers are taking advantage of that, leaving their cars for long periods of time, sometimes badly parked.

“It’s getting more and more filled up,” she said. “Just last week, someone was parked with a snowmachine trailer, taking up three spaces, parked sideways,” she said. “There’s one vehicle that is pretty much permanently parked there.”

The parking situation has deteriorated over the past year or so, Campbell said, though it’s unclear why.

The most recent DOT data available show that the number of passengers flying out of Haines has increased only modestly. During the period of May 2015 through April 2016, the number of paying passengers departing from the Haines airport was only 5.5 percent higher than during May 2014 through April 2015.

“The main theory (is) that the ferry schedule is less appealing to people,” said Lori Carter, office manager of the Haines branch of Alaska Seaplanes. Since the cuts to the ferry schedule, including the loss of regular weekend service to Skagway, Carter said, people are turning to airlines, which provide more frequent – and faster – service.

Campbell said the problem was likely due to a combination of factors, among them the fact that the airport’s parking capacity is already limited. “Part of the thing is the Haines parking (lot) is so small,” she said. “If there’s an uptick in just a few cars, it makes a big difference.”

She added that the problem was not unique. “A lot of rural airports have abandoned vehicle issues,” she said. “We don’t want to get to that point in Haines.”

State law gives local DOT foreman Matt Boron – as airport manager – authority to set parking limits. Boron was out of town this week and couldn’t be reached for comment.

For lack of posted limits on parking, Haines Borough police have never levied a fine or towed a car, but they have gotten involved occasionally.

“We have an orange warning sticker that we’ll put on your vehicle,” said Sgt. Josh Dryden. “It’s a nice little way of letting the person know, ‘Hey… you need to move.’” On some occasions, Dryden added, the police have contacted people and ordered them to move their vehicles.

Campbell said DOT is engaged in discussions with local airlines to find a solution. Among the options proposed was having signs made that set out parking rules, such as restrictions on the maximum parking time. But she hopes to avoid that possibility by raising awareness of the problem.

“People could understand they have sort of a gift right now,” Campbell said. “We really don’t want to abuse it, because it’ll be much more pleasant in the future (if they don’t).”