To tackle illegal activity, these rangers are coming to a city beach park near you

But there are questions about whether they will make a difference.
Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 6:53 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 26, 2023 at 8:42 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city has launched a new program aimed at putting more eyes at city beach parks to spot illegal commercial activity — and they’re accepting applicants.

The Parks Department is calling them “park rangers.”

The city is investing approximately $800,000 into the program.

Officials say it’s an “assessment” program because the rangers have no enforcement power and will focus on education and documenting illegal activity by patrolling more than 400 parks on Oahu.

“We want to be able to see what kind of unauthorized commercial activity we’re seeing,” said Head Park Ranger Leina Diamond who now has to hire four other rangers.

“The volume the hotspots and all those nitty gritty details.”

Diamond said the main focus will be at beach parks like Kailua and Waimanalo, where many commercial activities are banned.

But they will also focus on Waikiki where commercial activity is allowed with proper permits.

For some members of the Waimanalo Neighborhood Board who say they’ve been trying to stop illegal activity at their parks, the news is a step in the right direction.

“Our community members shouldn’t have to take time out of their day to sit at a beach to stop people from breaking the law,” said board member Kapua Medeiros.

Meanwhile, others are skeptical.

“I’ve been in the tourism business 40 years and I can tell you with no teeth ... it won’t work,” said Steve Walther, of Hawaii Tour Experts.

City officials said enforcement is a possibility down the road.

The park ranger position pays $19.72 an hour.

Officials say they are looking for people familiar with Oahu with great communication and people skills. They’re hoping to have at least five park rangers patrolling parks by this summer.

If you’re interested in applying to become a park ranger, you can apply here.