Maui Discussion

Ask The Mayor: Why do Hotels Still Block Public Beach Access?

March 10, 2019, 1:00 PM HST
* Updated March 10, 11:03 AM
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Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his staff.

Q:  Several years ago, I read that hotels were prohibited from placing lounges and umbrellas on the public beaches for their guests to use until the guests were actually present and requesting that service. All of the Wailea hotels seem to be following this policy except for one. I took a photo this morning before 7 a.m. showing over 30 umbrellas and over 60 lounges occupying nearly all of Polo Beach, with not a single hotel guest visible. The preemptive placement of the umbrellas in advance of customer demand has basically placed the large majority of this public beach under the control of the Fairmont Kea Lani. If this is not legal, why is it tolerated?

A: Mahalo for bringing this to my attention. The public must always have first access to our beaches and I am a strong advocate of keeping them open to our local families and residents.

The “pre-setting” of beach chairs as a commercial activity on public beaches is prohibited by state law. My staff notified the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources about this particular issue and they contacted their enforcement division, which made contact with hotel staff and documented the incident. Maui DLNR officials contacted my staff and told us that the hotel, for its part, showed a strong willingness to comply and understand that it is illegal to preset chairs on the beach.

The DLNR explained that this issue sometimes comes up when hotel management changes, and staff need to be re-educated about the law. Part of the DLNR’s civil enforcement procedures includes putting the responsible parties on notice. If they have a reoccurrence, then the state has the ability to issue fines per day until the issue is resolved.

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The public can report enforcement of state lands, including the pre-setting of beach chairs to the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement at (808) 643-3567.

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While the state does its part on our beaches, we as a county also are committed to protecting our parks and resources. We hope to fill seven park security officer positions within our Department of Parks and Recreation very soon, with candidates taking part in a one-day recruitment and interview process on March 14.

The department’s Park Security Unit exists to educate, enforce and enrich the park experience for all community members and visitors who use our hundreds of parks and facilities. The Park Security Officers address park permit and enforcement issues, in cooperation with the other county and state regulatory agencies, by providing education to the public, observing and reporting on their daily findings and interactions, and issuing citations as necessary.

This unit also initiates communication with other departmental staff to ensure that safety hazards, such as repair needs or health/safety risks are addressed as quickly as possible.

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Want to Ask The Mayor?

Submit your Maui County related questions to Mayor Michael Victorino by email at [email protected], by phone at (808) 270-7855 or via mail to 200 S. High Street, ninth floor, Wailuku, Hawaiʻi 96793.

Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column.

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