County requests proposed Westside beach access bill be modified

  • The Garden Island file

    This bridge along the road to and from Polihale State Park washes out often, and at one time was rebuilt in a partnership between the state and Kaua‘i residents.

LIHU‘E — A hearing notice proposing a pilot permit program at Polihale State Park and Kekaha Beach Park to allow for beach driving was the first time the County of Kaua‘i heard of such a proposal.

Concurring legislation, Senate Bill 178 and House Bill 120, which would establish a two-year, state Department of Land and Natural Resources pilot beach-protection program at Polihale or any beach in Kekaha, requiring permits to drive on the beach.

If approved, the program would start in July and run through the end of June 2023.

State law prohibits motorized vehicles, including cars, ATVs, motorcycles, scooters and trail bikes on beaches. However, on Kaua‘i, vehicles are allowed to transport people or supplies for picnicking, fishing, camping or swimming. County code specifies that driving back and forth or racing on a beach violates the code.

While the county did not voice support of or opposition to the bills, Managing Director Michael Dahilig did offer comments to the Senate Committee on Water and Land Friday during a public hearing.

“This hearing notice is the first the county was made aware of this proposal,” Dahilig wrote in testimony.

The bills would also require DLNR to work with the county to determine the feasibility of establishing a similar pilot program for Kekaha Beach Park, which would be under the jurisdiction of the county, according to the proposed draft. The county requested that this section be removed from the measure.

“While we appreciate the Legislature’s efforts in thinking ‘outside of the box’ to generate revenue for the DLNR while regulating the transit of unauthorized vehicles on state lands, we believe this is a state matter and the DLNR is the appropriate managing agency,” Dahilig wrote. “We acknowledge enforcement and resource management have been challenging for the state.”

Last summer, DLNR shut down Polihale, citing overuse, illegal activity and no way to enforce rules. After five months, Polihale reopened with new rules, hours and speed bumps. Camping permits are still unavailable.

Board of Land and Natural Resources Chair Suzanne Case said the DLNR appreciates the intent of the bill, but DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement does not have the resources to enforce a no-driving moratorium or a permit system, as the bill would create.

“Simply put, DOCARE does not have sufficient manpower to address the large numbers of potential violators,” Case wrote. “There are only 13 officers for the entire Island of Kaua‘i who must address the full range of DOCARE enforcement duties, and all of these officers are not working at the same time. Addressing all violators on an extensive, multi-mile stretch of beach with current resources is a nearly-impossible task.”

“Piecemeal enforcement,” Case said, could create implications of “disparate treatment and create fairness issues, where some people may receive enforcement action and others may not.”

For the hearing on Friday, the committee received nearly 400 pieces of written testimony.

Cory Keone Riley spoke to the committee Friday, and said that the Westside used to feel “very free,” and the island has changed, “not for the better for the community.”

“We used to sleep on the sand and watch the stars on the Westside without looking over our shoulder,” Riley said. “That time is gone. I can’t understand what would motivate such heavy regulation on this island to become normal. Shutting off access has become a normal part of this recent eras.”

Taryn Dizon of Kekaha felt there was no way to enforce the permits.

“Being able to legally drive on the sand may be the main objective of this pilot program, but we need to strengthen our pillars to have a solid foundation by enhancing enforcement and include the recreational area,” Dizon said.

Dizon also noted that restricting access will have a negative effect on cultural practices.

“Enhancing our systems is critical, but protecting access to Na Pali Coast is imperative to perpetuate and continue our generational knowledge of ‘ike ‘aina, learning from the land,” Dizon said. “People say Pohoiki or Kikiaola boat harbors are one of the scariest harbors to navigate in the state, but only a few have the knowledge to navigate from Polihale, which makes this cultural practice scarce.”

The committee will reconvene on Wednesday at 1 p.m.

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Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or sbodon@thegardenisland.com.

5 Comments
  1. Kekaha kane January 31, 2021 7:46 am Reply

    There was a Tacoma that recently got swept into the ocean at targets and is still in the ocean till this day. How is that even possible ?? I remember when you could go camping and people would drive slowly pass your campsite with caution for children. Those times are long gone. I watch the younger generation speed up and down the beach every weekend. It’s out of control. Driving on the sand has always been a privilege and we all knew this day would come. This is a classic case of bad apples ruining it for everyone !! The state has to do something before someone gets runned over or another truck pollutes our ocean. Blame the younger generation for this not the State !!


  2. Jamie Rainbow January 31, 2021 2:31 pm Reply

    Don’t let them do it. I am 56 years old and when I was a teenager me and my 3 brothers used to head for Highway one along the California coast and when we got there we would find a pullout and head down to a beach and camp for a night or 2. This lasted for about 10 or so years. Then the state in its infinite wisdom said you can’t do it anymore you are ruining the beach, leaving trash and homeless people are taking advantage. This all did happen and it still does, the only difference is now I am a criminal if I camp on the beach. I plead with all the people of Kauai to stand together and call your Congress person, your Mayor and your Governor tell them to put more decent camp sites at Polihale, add more trash cans and regular trash service, add a couple of people who check on the area daily to help people not do the wrong things. Implement an island pass for all parks and have visitors pay $50 for a week long pass or $100 for an annual pass, Have a lifetime pass for locals for $10. Register for it online and at local stores, give the 2 new hires a card reader and let them ask visitors who do not have a pass to get one or leave the park. This can be done with the aloha spirit.

    Mahalo to all people of Kauai
    Stand together or be disassembled


  3. Sheeples January 31, 2021 3:46 pm Reply

    Just to let everyone know, Polihale will soon be shut down again if things continue on this course. Saturday had 29 trucks and 200 people frolicking, swanning and defecating in the dunes(from queens pond to pillbox only). Most were gen z Covid rebels, which is understandable.

    The permit process should involve educating people that everything(rubbish, human waste, burn pits) need to be extricated from the beaches. Give groover bags to anyone who receives said permit. Otherwise, swim into the ocean and defecate there. Do not bury your glass bottles in the sand, bring your baby’s diapers home to be buried in mount kouchi.
    Humans are on the way out, but let’s try to have a nice few last years, especially in the most beautiful place on earth.
    Ignorance is not bliss, knowledge is freedom and happiness , no matter the situation.


  4. USAF Brat February 1, 2021 5:13 am Reply

    Polihale “solution” is not about We the peoples acting poorly or how DLNR is under funded to properly care for this site. It is all about, “USAF settles on Kauai” as TGI published. In 2018, C-span II showed a video where a group of high-ranking military met with congress and requested 1.2 Billion dollars for a 12-story ballistic missile intercept lauch facility at PMRF and that under “national security” does not require an EIS. It is the military U.S. moves to control civilian activity in a region that is on two Napali north-facing ridges east of Polihale that boasts NASA, Navy, Airforce and their interactives with the HAARP ship that was recently viewed last week off the east Kauai coast. HAARP returning from the south china seas. In concert with the China virus, the CCP, the Canadian-American Fentanyl drug lords, where the back-story of 128-years to now LIES. Hawaii Politico-Judicio-collusion has our Kauai Prosecuting Attorney in a TGI publishing, asserting that if we the people do not follow his bidding and wayward comments, we will be arrested and Eventually, like Brun, be federally held, no due process courted, or as our mayor interjected, we will be made to “cut bait”? Just as the six GMO that continue their manifestations of terrorism, the U.S. military is using “stacks of military bases” in these islands, since long before and known By DC’s presidents and his men, the Pearl Harbor attack and/or the U.S. Marines that assisted wealthy european sugar barons to overthrow Hawaii’s Queen Liliuokalani and eventually stealing all of Hawaii-aina, then selling land to the highest bidders, NOT from here. Look at Zuckerberg, Omidyer, Ellison, Grove Farm, A&B, and Ohana Robinson with his owning the island Niihau, where those Kanaka are still in a “slavery” model helping THAT slave driving family with their federally funded monk seal habitat, that continues to be in control exactly as the democrats AND republicans of the U.S.A. When exactly did Hawaii receive a treaty of annexation, much less a ratified treaty? The courts have not been able to show us this document, when in fact this goverment does not have such a document and now has us in mask-wearing AND blinders, because a union state cannot be, via “joint resolution”. We are not America, nor are we American, neither is Obum! So Federal Recognition and their DHHL idea to now place a casino instead of “rehabilitation” kanaka homes, when none ZERO, of that mentioned above is pono, but completely hewa. Yet the monied, not from here since plantations were erected, are given Carte Blanche. The more we have said No, the more all of them say Go! Wake up or pay the ultimate price, “pushing up daisies” with your children and grandchildren.


  5. Resident February 1, 2021 8:39 am Reply

    Standard Move by the county. Kawakami administration wiping there hands from taking any responsibility in matters that concern Kauai Residents. Why would they think the state knows better? This administration continues to turn a blind eye to the community.


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