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LETTERS for June 2 issue

By Staff | Jun 2, 2016

Hospital situation is dangerous

I agree with the “shock and dismay” expressed in the May 19 editorial in The Maui News regarding the injunction of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that halted the transition of the Maui County hospitals from the present status to Kaiser as scheduled for July 1. However, the statement that it “would be a shame if service cuts turned into merely a funnel for Oahu hospitals” seriously understates the enormity of the situation resulting for Maui.

At this late date, many critical assets of Maui Memorial Medical Center have already either been cut or have left in anticipation of Kaiser replacing those assets, but now can’t. These critical assets are needed for the immediate care, within the “Golden Hour,” for patients with heart attacks, strokes and serious accidents. These patients cannot be sent to Oahu – there just isn’t time. This situation is therefore dangerous and can be life-threatening for locals to live on Maui and tourists to visit Maui. And then what happens to these people and to our islands?

We have had excellent and world-class heart, stroke and trauma services. As a physician with a long history in critical care medicine, and older, I have been more than comfortable with the care that we have had here on Maui.

This situation needs to be resolved immediately, somehow, before as the editorial said, “more services will be cut and probably won’t be restored,” and Maui and all of us will be in real trouble.



Thanks, but no thanks, for West Maui projects

Shame on you for trying to shove two developments down our throats: Wailele Ridge and Kaiaulu.

The Wailele Ridge project says that they are building a retention basin to catch all runoff… then turn around and say that any overflow will go down toward the ocean. You can’t have it both ways. We have already seen earth being bulldozed and heavy rains taking that contaminated soil right down the hill to the ocean!

They advertise this project as being in Kapalua… it is not Kapalua; it is in Napili (false advertising). This project is only affordable to wealthy people.

Now, they are trying to build the Kaiaulu project to house the workforce… meaning plain and simple: local people. And where does he put these people he grew up with? On trash land right by the highway and the smelly sewer station. Thanks a lot for your love of your fellow residents of our beautiful island!

It scares me to death as I watch developers like this ramrod projects through the Planning Department and County Council. We need to stop this ridiculous practice of allowing this crap to be built.

So, thanks – but NO thanks – for your developments!



Condos seal access to the ocean

Whoever wrote the letter in a recent edition of the Lahaina News and falsely signed Aunty Patty Nishiyama’s name, that was not pono.

But I agree with you.

The condos from Mahinahina to Honokowai are slowly closing off our shoreline.

The Kuleana doesn’t have enough parking spaces, so they send people up to the neighborhood mauka and tell them to park there during the busy season. BUT, if someone parks in “their” parking lot to access what they call “their beach and ocean,” they get towed.

I heard one owner say at the beach one day, “We don’t want these kids swimming in our ocean.”



Bezane’s column has been an exceptional gift

Community voices are important, and none more so than Norm Bezane’s comments, reflections and wisdom via his column in the Lahaina News. His writing has been an exceptional gift to all of us on West Maui.

We will miss your inimitable style, wit and truth telling, Norm. Wishing you well with your next book.



New Surf Patrol members needed in Lahaina

The visibly most crowded beach in Lahaina is the one from Lahaina Breakwater south to Lahaina Shores. There are up to seven surf schools; dozens of renters of surfboards, kayaks, canoes, snorkels and SUPs; and crowds of tourists from the 505 restaurants, shops and hotels. Why are there no lifeguards at a town beach that has been crowded for three decades? The Maui Surfing Association’s Surf Patrol has rescued and warned countless people of the extremely dangerous, very shallow, razor-sharp coral near shore, as well as the many sea urchin needles to step on.

The Surf Patrol was founded by Ron Picker and I in 2000 with the advice and help of Maui’s most famous lifeguard, Archie Kalepa. It consisted of volunteer, unpaid, off-duty and former lifeguards, as well as expert and legendary surfers in the Maui Surfing Association.

Surf Patrol T-shirts were worn on the beach and in the water, and members were encouraged to paddle up to tourists in danger (in front of the park and shopping center) and warn them of the coral and urchins only inches below the waves. Part of this reef even sticks out of the water at low to medium tides, yet it is hidden by whitewater at higher tides. The reef has broken countless fins off surfboards and also damaged the fronts of the boards in wipeouts. The Surf Patrol has treated many wounds from this reef, because there are no nearby hospitals and no emergency nurses or doctors available nearby.

It is a shame that many of the Lahaina shops and surfing schools that rent surfboards, stand up paddle boards, snorkel sets and kayaks have not warned these renters of these dangers! We left some a warning sheet to post and warn in 2014; it was not even shown to customers. These employees do not even tell renters where the safe waves are located, which is only off the corner at the south end of Lahaina Breakwater. Most of the instructors hold classes there, yet when it gets so crowded with students, they collide or block rides. Some of these guys take their classes to the shallow, sharp, dangerous next break, which in the 1970s was called Insanities. It is located in front of the grade school, and that wave goes to the storm drain creek bed. It was named that for a good reason – after all the bloody wipeouts. It is possible to teach beginners there at the high tides, but at low tide it is too dangerous.

Most original members of the patrol have left Maui, or retired, as they were then off-duty surf instructors. Many moved out of Lahaina. The ONLY member left patrolling Lahaina is myself, and I can only be there part-time, since I live in Makawao. We are all required to pick up the litter at all beaches we surf or teach at, and I continue, because the many drug addicts, homeless and alcoholics in that park leave a lot of it. There is no visibly public trash can! There is one, but it is part of the Native Hawaiian canoe hut and does not even look public.

We need VOLUNTEERS for the surf patrol NOW, and they need to be above average surfers and swimmers, know first-aid and carry it to the beach. One day a week is a good shift, or otherwise after or before surf lessons or other work spread out for days. They don’t have to be lifeguards, but be strong enough to rescue people and own a longboard to bring people to shore.

On big surf days, the current here is very strong and sucks beginners into the boulders on the breakwater, where we have rescued people. We even rescued some people from surf schools with careless instructors. There are also too many collisions caused by beginner renters and students who were NEVER taught by instructors the world surfing right-of-way rules and etiquette!

Good surfers find students at the bottom of the waves they are going down, or catching waves directly in front of them as they exit tubes or crashing whitewater, as well as surfers on the nose, unable to turn in these situations. Rentals are the same hazards. A surfer goes off the lip and comes down backside on top of a student or renter who does not paddle out of the way! Instructors who refuse to tell students and renters to never have a surfboard sideways with an approaching whitewater, and how to turtle-roll, will see students lose their big and heavy surfboards, only to crash into people paddling out and riding waves. Some of the instructors are very good about teaching all the above safety, and it is usually the younger and newer ones to Maui and their job that blow it.

When I owned and managed surf schools, I required all my instructors to take an MSA training and safety certification course; enforce the rules, etiquette and procedures; and be laid-off for violations. Most of my instructors were contest winners or surf media stars, and some were national or world champions! However, it seems we have seen too many instructors, and even some owners, who surf so poorly they need intermediate surf lessons themselves! Some have surfed little better than their students, after lots of money bought them in.

We also have no lifeguards at the most crowded beach park in West Maui at Launiupoko; the best longboard point break in Hawaii at Mala Wharf (very dangerous and crowded); and Maui’s most famous wave, Honolua Bay! We have rescued way too many bloody people at Honolua, where powerful waves snap safety leashes and boards in pieces, while the surfers get crashed into the boulder cliffs, sharp rocks, and the cave.

Budget Director Riki Hokama is not a surfer, lives on Lanai, and is totally out of touch with this problem. Maui is a world-famous, world-class surfing, SUP and windsurfing destination. Most of the crowds are visitors, and few know the dangers. The mayor is no help either, and the only surfer in our County Council is Elle Cochran, who has done nothing about this serious problem! Lifeguards were just approved a needed pay raise, yet there was no funding for more towers and guards at our most popular surfing beaches! Only Hookipa got a long-overdue tower with guards, after decades of bloody wipeouts at the windsurfing capital of the world and most crowded north side surf break.

Sprecklesville is even more crowded with windsurfers than Hookipa, and the area has no lifeguards. Meanwhile, there are lifeguards at some of the safest Maui beaches located in the Kihei/South Maui zone.

STEVE OMAR, Founder, Maui Surfing Association