Randy Draper recognized for long history of protecting locals’ rights
NAPILI – Last week, Su Campos, president of Napili Action Group, honored local resident Randy Draper with the “West Maui Super Hero of the Decades Award.”
The certificate partly read: “In Recognition of all your good works the past 30 years. Our kids wouldn’t have a park in Napili, our locals wouldn’t have parking at Kaanapali, and our drainage would be all plugged up. Mahalo plenty, Randy; we value you.”
Additionally, in appreciation of Draper, ever-community-minded “Dooma” of Dooma Photos presented Draper with a matted photo of the Napili man taken at his 65th birthday celebration earlier this year at Wayno Saunders’ house.
Dooma told the Lahaina News about the picture. “He (Randy) told Wayno that he never had a birthday party, so Wayno said, ‘Well, we are going to throw one for you this year,’ and he invited all Randy’s friends.”
Many don’t know who Draper is. He’s not just a Dudley-do-right; he’s been a behind-the-scenes environmental activist over the years with dogged determination to protect our rights.
Born in 1951 in Renton, Washington, Draper spent his formative years in Southern California – Hermosa Beach and Costa Mesa – surfing and building boards, in the day.
“I worked with Grant Reynolds fixing boards down on the beach. I was his first employee; that was in 1968. He went on to become the largest glass shop anywhere,” Draper noted and added, “I worked in the middle of the biggest surf board manufacturing area in the world at that time.”
Draper moved to Maui “about 1972, because I was tired of making surfboards and breathing all that crap,” he told the Lahaina News.
“I came here to start a surfboard (materials) business, and I first started right where Ole is now in the Lahaina Storage Depot. There were buildings back there that cost $150 each. For $300 a month, I got two big warehouses to put blanks and fiberglass. Then I moved to where Moose McGillycuddy’s was previously located. I rented the whole block for $300 a month. This is just before they built Kimo’s.”
It was called Maui Blanks and Fiberglass. He closed shop, he said, “pretty close to 1980.”
A man with salt in his veins, he then worked in the harbor for about 40 years, earning his 200-ton U.S. Coast Guard captain’s license working on sailboats and fishing boats.
“I liked sailboats the best, but I did fishing boats, rafts, the big huge catamarans; I did all of them,” Draper said.
His on the side activism bloomed when he would run the beach at the popular destination resort at Kaanapali. He noticed that public beach access parking was not being provided as conditioned in each hotel’s county Special Management Area Permit.
This has been a thorn in his side for decades.
“I never let go of the parking issue, never. It was in my face everyday. Then the surf schools started happening and then all of a sudden all the vendors were parking in the spots all the timeshare people. Everybody that worked on the front beach of the hotels, all the boat companies would use these public stalls,” Draper commented.
All his dedication and hard work paid off; he has given the community a legacy not easily forgotten: “to use the beach or any public beach parking lot stall to park their car, at any time day or night, until the end of time!”
Campos recalled Draper and other community issues he championed.
“I first met Randy back in the early ’90s when a handful of Napili residents formed the Napili Action Group. We were one of the first group of activists in our area. We managed to stop a major development in Napili by just attending council (Maui County Council) hearings and giving testimony.
“In the beginning of our crusade, Randy was a bit timid and shy; but, through many meetings and giving oral testimony, he became a strong advocate for saving Maui’s environment,” Campos continued.
“Since then he has been fighting for the betterment of West Maui. He always has the time and passion to fight for what is right. I am proud to call Randy a friend and a fellow ‘Haole-Hawaiian’ who sincerely cares about our island,” Campos said.
With the intent of protecting the community from urban sprawl, Draper extended his approach.
He was appointed by former County Councilman Wayne Nishiki to serve on Lahaina Citizen’s Advisory Committee to rewrite the West Maui Community Plan, adopted in 1996.
At the same time, he was a strong advocate of the development of Napili Park.
“We were lobbying for that a long time. We actually negotiated with Linda Lingle (then mayor of Maui County) and Maui Land and Pine on that. This is where the community is,” Draper reasoned about why the park is situated where it is today.
He was a member of the Lahaina Open Space Society, and one of seven interveners in the Save Keka’a campaign opposing the application from AMFAC to develop a vacation timeshare resort on Lot 1 in the North Beach subdivision.
Although not an entirely successful intervention, Draper was generally pleased with the outcome.
“We got a few concessions out of North Beach,” he recalled. “Believe it or not, if we didn’t do something, it would be a lot worse today. We wouldn’t have the big ten-acre open space and 150-foot setback that’s all public.”
Draper’s name is indexed many times in the book “Keka’a: The Making and Saving of North Beach West Maui” written by Sydney Lehua Laukea.
Currently, “due to health reasons,” Draper said, “I am out of commission for a while.”
But don’t consider the win for public beach access parking at Kaanapali Beach Resort Draper’s last stand.
He has an exemplary community spirit. “If I see something going on that is not right and taking away from the local people – our rights as beach goers, that is my thing. Being able to go to the beach when I want to and where I want to, and not have those rights taken away,” he concluded.