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Ask the Mayor

By Staff | Sep 25, 2014

Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.

Question: I am writing to make a complaint about excessive private businesses at Ukumehame Park. Large tour buses have been regularly pulling up and dropping off very large groups of patrons, who are escorted to all sides of the park and loaded into at least 40 kayaks. The kayaks then encroach on the surf areas and waves, making it dangerous for surfers and swimmers, as the kayaks are in shallow water and deep reef areas where the surfers wait for waves. In addition, there are multiple surf schools operating from trucks and clogging the surf areas in the ocean. If that weren’t enough, the surf schools are using flying drones equipped with video cameras out in the surf. A drone was level with my face and only a few feet in front of me when I was on a wave. Drones are dangerous, noisy, and remove the peace we find in the surf. They are infringing on our privacy by filming all surfers. What are the rules on private enterprise, and what is your plan to ensure enforcement? I appreciate your response and help in this matter, as many of us residents are upset.

Answer: While Ukumehame is a county park, the task of monitoring the use of flying drones over the ocean falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). According to the FAA website, these business-use drones fall under the “Civil” category of what the FAA labels “Unmanned Aircraft Systems” (UAS). Civil UAS operators may obtain a Special Airworthiness Certificate, Experimental Category, by demonstrating that their unmanned aircraft can operate safely within an assigned flight test area and cause no harm to the public. To file a safety-related complaint about at a UAS, visit “http://www.faa.gov/contact”>www.faa.gov/contact /safety_hotline or call 1-866-835-5322 and dial Option 4.

Regarding the issue of commercial activities, I checked with our parks staff on the number of Commercial Ocean Recreational Activity (CORA) permits at the site. We currently have 11 vendors holding a total of 13 CORA permits at Ukumehame; these permits were grandfathered in when the current CORA rules went into effect in September 2009. The total includes eight surfing permits, three kayak and one scuba permit for the park. Ukumehame is also used by certain vendors who hold secondary permits for utilizing the park when the weather conditions are blown out at other parks, which may explain why you have seen a high number of people in the water.

The rules regulate vendors’ use of parking spaces and allow no more than 14 individuals (including patrons and instructors) at a time, per surfing permit. For kayaking, no more than 22 individuals are allowed at a time, per permit. For scuba, no more than 18 individuals are allowed at a time, per permit.

Enforcement of CORA activities is limited to the three rangers who make their rounds on a regular basis; however, we will again ask the County Council next budget cycle for funding to hire additional rangers.

To voice your suggestions or concerns regarding this issue, you can attend one of the community budget meetings this fall or council budget hearings next spring. To view CORA rules online, visit www.mauicounty.gov/Parks and select “CORA” from the left menu.

Question: Why can’t I sit down on a bench or stand in the shade and wait for the bus at my stop in Kihei? I use the bus regularly and have spent a lot of my hard-earned money to do so, including purchasing daily and monthly passes. I can’t afford any other mode of transportation (apart from my bike, which I use as much as possible), and I know I’m not the only person on the island in this situation.

Answer: While it wasn’t clear from your e-mail which stop in Kihei you use, I can tell you that new bus shelters for Kihei are currently in the design process, with construction tentatively slated for next fiscal year. The Kihei locations include both sides of Kamaole Shopping Center and Kamaole Beach III. Construction of new shelters this fiscal year is focused on the Lahaina area, which does not yet have any bus shelters. The shelters and benches are provided as a convenience to Maui Bus passengers, and while they are not required by law, they are extremely helpful for our residents and visitors who utilize the Maui Bus. I appreciate your support for the Maui Bus and encourage you to send e-mail, written or personal testimony to the Budget Office, our County Transportation Department or the County Council to ask for additional funding that would allow us to work toward improving services, including additional bus shelters. You can also voice your request at the upcoming Community Budget Meeting in Kihei on Monday, Oct. 6, or at any of the other budget meetings; the schedule of meetings in each area is listed on the county website at www.mauicounty.gov/Budget.

Want to “Ask the Mayor?” Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via e-mail at AskTheMayor@mauicounty.gov, phone at 270-7855, or mail to 200 S. High St., Ninth Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the column.