WAILUKU, Hawaii — A Hawaii lawmaker is calling for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to enforce rules that prevent resorts and vendors from reserving space on public beaches.
State Rep. Angus McKelvey sent a letter to department officials on Wednesday after reports surfaced that documented unused chairs, umbrellas and other gear placed along Kaanapali Beach on western Maui.
“Our public beaches are legally protected and the public’s access should be unfettered,” McKelvey said in the letter. “Attempts of this nature to reserve beach space disallow the general public’s use and enjoyment of that space and is unacceptable.”
Kaanapali Beach is in an ocean recreation management area. The rules allow the renting of beach equipment, but the items are not permitted to be set up until the guest is present. If the guest leaves the item unattended for more than an hour, it must be removed.
Maui resident Kai Nishiki said she has filed several complaints to the department after observing several resorts and vendors violate the rules. She said sometimes the beach chairs will stay in place all day and overnight.
“Resorts are selling space on our public beaches and completely blocking the entire coast in front of their hotels with hundreds of cabanas/chairs/umbrellas daily,” Nishiki told The Maui News.
In a recent statement, department officials said the rules are periodically enforced, but the department does not have enough personnel to enforce the rules daily.
McKelvey said he plans to help secure more funding for conservation officers, but the department is still obligated to ensure that the rules are enforced.