Sandbar booze ban alters atmosphere and attendance

Sandbar booze ban alters atmosphere and attendance

KANEOHE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Before the alcohol ban on major three-day holiday weekends took effect, the Kaneohe sandbar drew big crowds and big complaints about drunk and disorderly behavior.

Not this weekend.

Police from the Department of Land and Natural Resources had little to do besides patrol and advise, because no one broke the ban and attendance on the sand strip was very low.

"On a beautiful day, we didn't have the ban, you could be looking at 50 or 60 boats that might be out there," said Meghan Statts, DLNR Boating and Ocean Recreation Oahu District Manager.

The max number of boats around the bar Monday was 28 at low tide, and like the water, the mood was calm.

The no alcohol zone covers a square mile bordered by buoys. At Heeia Kea Boat Harbor, DOCARE officers reminded boaters that beer, wine, and hard liquor are forbidden.

"We're not here chasing people away. We're just down here ensuring that it's safe and we get responsible use of the bay," DOCARE Oahu District Manager Guy Chang said.

"We've actually gotten a positive reaction," Statts said. People are like, 'If we want to be able to drink, we're just going to make sure we stay out of that area.' As long as they do that they're not breaking any laws."

A side effect of the alcohol restriction was evident on shore. More families showed up at the pier to fish.

"We used to come here when the boys were little. I know at one point in time it got a little rowdy here. So we stayed away. But we thought it was a good weekend to come out and enjoy, and it is," Mililani resident Tricia Abad said.

The no booze zone is zero tolerance. Fines could be as high as $1,000.

"Every year we had bigger crowds out there consuming alcohol. The behavior got really bad," Chang said.

What a difference the rule made. The next time the alcohol ban will be tested at the Kaneohe sandbar is next year on Memorial Day weekend.

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