Bill seeks a carrying capacity study for Mākena State Park due to increased visitors
The state House Finance Committee will hear a bill this week that requests a carrying capacity study for Mākena State Park, also known as Oneloa Beach. The hearing on SB 1136, SD1, HD1 is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5, 2023.
“As with other state beach parks, the increase in tourism volume has resulted in an excess of visitor traffic to Mākena State Park, necessitating further investment in this iconic area,” lawmakers noted in the bill.
Because of the increase of visitors, “amenities offered at the park are being stretched and park upkeep and maintenance are being tested,” according to the bill’s language.
Lawmakers who drafted the legislation noted that when the same phenomenon created a strain at Hāʻena and Waiʻānapanapa State Parks, a carrying capacity study was conducted and a tourism management plan was put into place.
“The plan allowed for the generation of additional revenue from the increased traffic and ensured that residents’ public access to these important community assets would be preserved,” according to the bill.
Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to appropriate funds for the Office of Planning and Sustainable Development to conduct a carrying capacity study, which will be submitted to the legislature by July 1, 2024.
The bill would assess the effectiveness of existing use restrictions and management practices, including current park hours, entrance fees, and parking fees.
The nonprofit group Maui Tomorrow thanked House Finance Chair Kyle Yamashita for holding a hearing on the bill, calling the measure a priority for the community.
The organization reports that: “Due to overtourism and the increasing tourism volume at Mākena State Park, residents are often unable to access the park due to lack of parking. Additionally, the park is at risk of irreparable harm due to overuse and lack of action to monitor the number of people who can access the park daily.”
In an email update from Maui Tomorrow, the organization states, “This is a critical first step in ensuring that Mākena State Park is well-managed and sustained for future generations to enjoy.”
The hearing is available for viewing live at the Hawaiʻi House of Representatives YouTube Channel.