Sides in dispute over sea permits urged to work it out

The Maui News

WAILUKU — After denying a state request to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the issuing of permits to tour boat operators to anchor off Kaanapali Beach, a judge suggested that both sides work to resolve the case.

During an Environmental Court hearing Wednesday, 2nd Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza also denied a plaintiffs’ motion seeking to stop activities related to the commercial-use permits until environmental assessments are done.

Na Papa’i Wawae ‘Ula’ula, the West Maui Preservation Association and West Maui waterman Randy Draper filed the lawsuit last year against the Department of Land and Natural Resources over the current permitting system for operators of personal watercraft and parasailing, snorkeling and whale-watch tours off Kaanapali Beach.

At the time, 25 permits had been issued for ocean-based operations at the anchorage directly offshore from Kaanapali Beach.

The plaintiffs argued that the environmental impacts of the tour boat operations have not been reviewed.

The lawsuit alleges that waste from the permitted boats is being discharged directly into the ocean. In addition, customers of the tour operations are using parking stalls set aside by hotels for noncommercial recreational beach use, according to the lawsuit.

Attorney Lance Collins, representing the plaintiffs, said the court found Wednesday that public parking for beach access was relevant if it impacts public trust resources. The court also found that the state has made a good-faith effort to try to manage the Kaanapali area, Collins said.

He said the plaintiffs’ motion was denied without prejudice, so it could be refiled.

Judge Cardoza suggested Wednesday that “the two sides come together and see if we can resolve the case,” either directly or with a mediator, Collins said after the hearing.

Na Papa’i Wawae ‘Ula’ula is a hui of West Maui residents dedicated to protecting and enhancing shoreline access for the public and for Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practices.

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