The Dept. of Land and Natural Resources will enforce the state boating rule over the Memorial Day holiday weekend — from Saturday, May 24, to Monday, May 26 — that prohibits the possession, use or consumption of alcohol; loud, abusive or disorderly conduct; and the presence of persons under the influence of alcohol, narcotics or non-prescription drugs in an area designated as the Ahu o Laka safety zone, also known as the Kaneohe Sandbar, in Kaneohe Bay.
“The state continues to act to support public safety and respect for Ahu o Laka as a unique natural resource and cultural area,” said William Aila Jr., DLNR chairperson. “We have listened to the concerns of families and responsible boaters in striking a balance that applies needed rules and enforcement to three summer holiday weekends, which were historically the times when there were larger crowds, and when drinking and unruly behavior caused more disturbances.”
DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers will be present, patrolling both on the water and in Heeia Kea small boat harbor in an effort to promote safe boating during the three-day weekend.
The Ahu O Laka rule establishes a rectangular safety zone in the middle of Kaneohe Bay that is just over a square mile in area, comprising the majority of the sandbar and defined by six marker buoys. Provisions of the rule are meant to protect the public while visiting Ahu o Laka on three designated holiday weekends in summer – Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day, including any three-day weekend associated with these holidays.
The sandbar rule first took effect over the July 4, 2012, weekend and has a sunset provision in three years to allow the department time to monitor and evaluate its effectiveness and need for continuance or modification at that time. The rule is posted online here.
Under Hawaii Administrative Rules Chapter 13-256-73.13 Ahu o Laka Safety Zone, violations may be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $1,000 or less than $50 for each violation, in addition to administrative fines, fees, costs and damages. Persons cited will be processed administratively at a public meeting before the Land Board. Persons wishing to contest the infraction(s) may request a contested case hearing.
A 120-day emergency rule that was in operation during the Independence Day, Admission Day and Labor Day weekends in 2011 resulted in a calmer, family-friendly environment. During that time DLNR issued a total of eight citations for unauthorized possession of alcohol, and fines issued by the land board ranged from $50 to $500. The safety zone is identical in size and placement to the zone that was approved last year by the Land Board.