Order closing state beaches prompts confusion, even for Neighbor Island mayors

Beach restrictions prompt pushback from residents and confusion for mayors

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The governor’s move to make beaches off-limits is getting some pushback. People, including at least two of Hawaii’s mayors, are frustrated and confused by the order.

Gov. David Ige says the order lets counties use discretion to allow certain activities.

However, Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino says the language makes it difficult to determine whether the beaches are legally within his jurisdiction.

“I think the governor must clearly define which of the beaches, which are owned by the state, (exercise) should be allowed,” said Victorino.

“It’s still very unclear because they are saying they own all the beaches, but where is the beach line? The vegetation and high water mark changes day-to-day at many of our beaches.”

Kauai County Mayor Derek Kawakami also has questions.

“It is a top priority for our community and our goal is to have clarification on that rule,” said Kawakami, in a video statement Monday.

Victorino says officers are confused and it’s been tough to enforce.

“Our police are not out there to cite people right now until this clarification,” said Victorino.

With no one on beaches, sidewalks have become crowded. Seniors, like Kailua resident Diana Helfand, says that puts them in a dangerous situation.

“I saw an older woman almost get knocked down by someone zooming by on a bike. If someone older falls on pavement they get really, really hurt," said Helfand.

"The beach is soft. If you fall, You’re not falling on a hard surface.”

Helfand, a retired columnist, says the new rules are discriminatory against kupuna.

“My doctor actually told me to breathe in the salt air because I have respiratory problems so I can’t even do that,” said Helfand.

Ige says a solution is in the works.

“The order that I issued refers to state beaches and the county mayors have issued orders that deal with their county beaches and we are working to align it,” said Ige.

The new rules remain in effect through April 30th. Violators can be fined up to $5,000 or face a year in jail.

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