How do we balance commercial activities in public areas where visitors and residents flock to enjoy the scenic wonders of Kauai Hawaii? This is the challenge that Lenny Rapozo and the Department of Parks and Recreation are tasked with. Recently Rapozo and his staff have brought forth recommendations to do just that in one of the most visited of Kauai’s public parks.
Until the Federal court decision in June that allowed local governments to regulate commercial activities in public spaces it was impossible to get a permit from the County to offer beach activities to visitors in Kauai. The County was simply dead set against turning some of the most revered and visited of Kauai’s landmarks into commercial hot spots. There were deep divisions within communities on both sides of the argument. Quality of life proponents against all commercial activity, versus the business community that insisted that if there are no jobs there will no quality of life.
To the County’s credit they recognized a need to regulate and develop rules for the number of activities on each park and beach. Unpopular decisions needed to be made. How many commercial operations do we want on a particular beach? Will they be awarded by seniority? Will there be a balance of visitor related activities? Will the permits be exclusive, or will there be rotating vendors offering different services?
Difficult questions to be sure. Rapozo and his team held public meetings for the past 9 months around the island to assess the impact to residents and visitors. He welcomed critical input by current unregulated vendors to get their ideas on how to enhance the visitor experience. To a vendor they were all interested in legitimatizing their businesses, some of whom have been providing services for greater than ten years.
Today Rapozo has presented a plan to the Mayor for regulating commercial surfing operations at Black Pot Beach Park, one of three parks fronting Hanalei Bay. They are:
* Interested commercial applicants must apply for a commercial permit to operate
* No commercial boating and surfing activities on Sunday
* Hours of operation from Monday through Saturday from 7 am to 7 pm
The Mayor has 10 days to make a decision on these recommendations. It is our belief that he will approve the counsel of the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Tell us what you think about commercial activities at scenic Kauai landmarks. Are they good for the island and the visitor industry?