Ban on Commercial Permit Operators at Hanakaʻōʻō Becomes Law

July 8, 2019, 11:20 AM HST · Updated July 8, 11:20 AM
Wendy Osher · 23 Comments
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The Maui County Council unanimously passed a ban on commercial activity permit operators at Hanakaʻōʻō Beach Park in West Maui.

The item passed on second reading Friday, with Councilmembers Sinenci and Rawlins-Fernandez excused.  It also passed unanimously out of Councilmember Sinenciʻs Environmental, Agricultural, and Cultural Preservation Committee and unanimously on first reading with Councilmember Hokama excused.

“So everyone voted in favor of this bill at least once during itʻs journey through the legislative process,” said West Councilmember Tamara Paltin who introduced the bill.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino signed the bill on Friday, and the measure became effective upon approval. “Now, it’s law,” said Maui County Communications Director Brian Perry.

Paltin, who served for 17 years as an Ocean Safety officer before being elected to the Maui County Council, called the measure a community led initiative.  “I had witnessed first hand some of the scuba instructors surfacing and submerging within the race course during practices, tying dive floats to canoe lane lines and regularly instructing on public sidewalks forcing beach patrons into the road,” said Paltin in an email communication with Maui Now.

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“In addressing this issue, I also wanted to thank the Parks Department and the Extended Horizons permit holder. I was able to talk and meet with them and was impressed with how solution oriented they were,” said Paltin.

She continued saying the company understood the history of canoe clubs being forced to relocate over the years and is looking to relocate to Ukumehame Beach Park.  “Although scuba is not a permitted activity at that location, (the) Parks (Department) indicated that they would be willing to make a one time adjustment for Commercial Ocean Recreational Activity permit holders, with only one permit, who are displaced by a prohibition of CORA permits at Hanakaʻōʻō,” said Paltin.

“I truly hope this is just the beginning of changes at Hanakaʻōʻō Beach Park,” said Paltin.

Next steps include three canoe clubs–Lahaina, Kahana and Nāpili–meeting with the Parks Department to discuss a lease agreement similar to what the other canoe clubs have at Hoaloha Park and Kanahā in Kahului. They may also pursue a cultural designation by working with Parks and the Cultural Resources Commission.

“It is awesome to see how the West Maui canoe clubs have united on this issue and are engaging in the process,” said Paltin.

Paltin also wants safety in the nearshore waters to be addressed once again by state senators, representatives and the state Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation.

A water death was reported in the area in December of 2011.

In December of 2011, a Maui man died after being struck by a recreational boat while setting lane lines for a canoe regatta in West Maui.

“Shortly after, the community rallied for swim zone buoys to keep these types of propelled vehicles out of the swim area and race course, but maintenance of the buoys has been problematic and at this time none of the buoys are in place–although I have heard that DOBOR has put out the bid once again. The ingress/egress buoys have also been missing for quite some time and need to be addressed as well,” said Paltin.

In 1986, outrigger canoe paddling was adopted as the official Hawaiʻi team sport.  Paltin said she hopes the issue of nearshore management gains support from lawmakers.  “Can you imagine the types of interference canoe paddlers have endured on their race course occurring on a basketball court, baseball diamond, football field or golf course? Itʻs time to bring the State into the discussion about how these nearshore waters are managed,” said Paltin.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served nearly 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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