Amendments made to Westside beach driving bill

LIHU‘E — Wednesday, the state Senate’s Committee on Land and Water amended and removed Kekaha Beach Park specific portions of a bill that would require permits to drive on the beach.

Hawai‘i state law prohibits motorized vehicles on beaches, but Kaua‘i code allows users to transport people or supplies for picnicking, fishing, camping or swimming on the beach. County code specifies that driving back and forth or racing on a beach violates the code.

Senate Bill 178 calls for a Department of Land and Natural Resource-enforced two-year permit program to be piloted at Polihale State Park to allow driving on the beach.

Chair Sen. Lorraine R. Inouye recommended to pass the bill with recommendations, removing all references to Kekaha Beach Park, which belong to the county, not the state like Polihale does.

This removal is specific to the part of the bill that would create a separate program that would 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.

County of Kaua‘i Managing Director Michael Dahilig, writing on behalf of the county in testimony last week, asked that this portion of the bill be removed.

“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.”

There was no discussion during the decision-making portion of the committee’s meeting, but Inouye’s recommendations passed unanimously. Sens. Bennette E. Mislucha and Kurt Fevella voted in favor, with reservations.

Enforcing beach driving has been a long-standing issue. Last summer, Polihale was shut down by the state for five months citing overuse, illegal activity and no way to enforce rules, including driving on the beach.

Board of Land and Natural Resources Chair Suzanne Case said the DLNR in testimony appreciated 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.

The bill, which has companion legislation as House Bill 120 (which was referred to the House’s Water and Land Committee). If the bill is approved, the program would start in July and run through the end of June 2023.

  1. I saw a Vampire once February 4, 2021 5:06 am Reply

    Any business is good business. DLNR is state under the state. That means if you work for the state you get paid. If you work for the county such as your uneducated county councilmembers who ran for politics, they don’t get paid under a CIP portion. These councilmembers will be violating tax payers money by collecting it from CIP. I don’t know where they are getting paid. That is the difference in state and county.

  2. Joe Public February 4, 2021 9:45 am Reply

    Again, the State is trying to make rules it can not enforce so it is trying to push it on to the County. Go do something productive, like use your time to get Unemployment money and the economy back on track, what a waste of tax payers money, which we have little of.

  3. WestKauai February 4, 2021 3:34 pm Reply

    Why is Michael Dahilig writing on behalf of the County when he is not an elected official???

  4. A realist February 5, 2021 7:35 am Reply

    Ok, so yes racing and driving recklessly on the sand is not allowed. Transporting family, fishing equipment, surf etc is allowed. I do recall the same rules Apply to driving on the road. Reckless driving- citations. Racing- citations. Now apply the same common sense to driving on the sand. There will always be a small percentage of people who break laws. Just because some people decide to drink and drive, drive without insurance, or a license, exceed the speed limit. Doesn’t make it so that no one else should be able to drive. Make the state and county fine super high to discourage the risky behavior. I can tell you after 25 years of safe beach driving the biggest offenders of reckless driving on the beach are teenagers in their sh!tbox trucks or their daddy’s truck.

    Now the more practical argument. Accessibility to where you are fishing or surfing or swimming. Unless you are right in front of the lifeguard tower at kekaha beach the chances of the guards being the first responders are slim to none. That’s nothing against them. Is just the reality of the vast expanse of the west side. Surfers/fishermans/beachgoers are most often the first responders in the event of an emergency. I can’t give you specific numbers but I can promise more lives have been saved than potentially lost because someone happened to be driving up or down the beach. Or the 4×4 was needed to transport injured person to emts, guards, etc.

  5. Andrew February 5, 2021 8:03 am Reply

    DLNR is unwilling or unable to enforce its existing rules, so why give them more rules they won’t enforce. No, they didn’t even make a half hearted attempt to regulate Polihale, blamed the public and shut down our public access to the resource. Yea Yea Yea, no money or personnel for enforcement. My dog ate my homework. All it would have taken. is one guy a few days a week on an ATV engaging park goers on the beach, explaining the rules.

    This is the time for them to show us they are worthy of our respect, because as of now they have very little. Enforce. the existing camping and park use rules for their coming summer. If additional rules are needed let’s discuss them then.

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