Rule requires permits for kayaks
By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Staff Writer
State officials were unaware of a 16-year-old rule requiring kayakers, canoe paddlers and other small-craft users to get a permit to use public beaches until they began getting complaints about it recently.
Dede Mamiya, Land Division administrator with the Department of Land and Natural Resources, said she was as surprised as anyone to learn about the regulation. She said the state neither wants such authority nor can it handle the extra work.
"We're going to review those rules and take that out. We have no intention of requiring people to get permits to land a kayak or a canoe on a beach," Mamiya said. "I appreciate people bringing this to our attention. I'm getting a lot of letters."
The issue came up after state officials sought the power to control commercial uses such as kayak tours on "unencumbered state lands," which refers to state lands that aren't under lease. The term includes most beaches.
When some kayakers and boaters took a look at state regulations, they found that it's already illegal to bring a power boat, sailboard and maybe even an inflatable toy turtle to the beach.
"That is such an outrageous grab of power. The DLNR officers could arrest any boater on any beach in this state. The state should not have that power. They have the authority to intimidate anybody, which intimidates everybody," said Bob Twogood of Kailua, who builds, rents and sells kayaks and surf skis.
Kaua'i canoe paddler Kimberlee Stuart, who trains regularly with one-man outrigger canoes on the Wailua River, started e-mailing Hawai'i paddlers after learning of the rule. She said it's too broad and ambiguous.
"Does it mean that we need permits to work out on (one-man outrigger canoes) in the river? They even include rafts. Does it mean that a tourist on the beach needs a permit when they blow up their raft or get the $500 fine? It just seems like overpermitting and too many rules," Stuart said in the e-mail.
The rule, which has been in place since February 1988, states: "No person shall operate, leave unattended, beach, park, or moor vessels ... including but not limited to boats, motorboats, houseboats, rowboats, powerboats, jet skis, sailboats, fishing boats, towboats, scows, flatboats, cruisers, motor vessels, ships, barges, tugs, floating cabanas, party boats, charter boats, catamarans, ferryboats, canoes, rafts, or any similar buoyant devices permitting or capable of free flotation, on the premises without a written authorization of the (Board of Land and Natural Resources) or its authorized representative except in cases of emergency."
State officials said they did not know what may have prompted the rule, but they do not think it's necessary today.
"We've got enough work to do. We don't need to be doing that," Mamiya said.
Members of the boating community seem to agree.
"It's our beach and our ocean, and this is just crazy," said Kendall Struxness, a Hanalei building contractor who surfs and paddles one-man canoes and sailing canoes.
"Why you need to get a permit to put a one-man canoe in the water is just absurd," Struxness said.
State Sen. Fred Hemmings, R-25th (Kailua, Waimanalo, Portlock), a former champion surfer and paddler, said there may be a place for regulations on certain commercial activities. He said some beaches occasionally may be congested with commercial tour activities. But he said noncommercial uses should be left alone.
"I don't think that's a problem" that government needs to address, Hemmings said.
Reach Jan TenBruggencate at firstname.lastname@example.org or (808) 245-3074.