Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Camp out for camping permits

Two fathers from Wai’anae will join a crowd of other camping enthusiasts as they camp out overnight at the Kapolei Satellite City for a chance to be first in line for camping permits during the Thanksgiving weekend. Morris and Thurston Kamealoha, two brothers, have also gathered 400 signatures for a petition urging the Department of Parks and Recreation to increase the number of city camping permits, especially on the Wai’anae Coast where there are currently only a little over 30 spots.

“Camping is how we would like to spend our quality family time,” wrote the two brothers, Morris and Thurston Kamealoha, in a letter to Rep. Maile Shimabukuro asking for her support of the petition. “Quality family time is what keeps the love in the family strong.”

“You literally have to camp at the Satellite City Hall if you want to camp,” said Rep. Maile Shimabukuro (D-45th). “This has been going on for years, and now it’s even harder for Wai`anae Coast residents because they have to travel to Kapolei rather than go to the Wai`anae Satellite City Hall to get camping permits for our own beaches on the Wai`anae Coast.”

Currently, there are only 12 campsites (weekends only) at Maili Beach Park, 12 campsites at Nanakuli Beach Park, and 6 campsites (summer only) at Lualualei Beach.

While the state does not allow camping at its parks on the Wai`anae Coast due to the public’s complaints about the homeless, it does issue free one-year overnight access permits at Keawaula Bay, aka “Yokohama,” which allow up to 10 people to fish, star-gaze, etc. overnight. Under the state’s Keawaula permit, groups are allowed to use “EZ corner”-type tents with up to 2 sides, but may not use pop-up or 3-4-sided tents, sleeping bags, or cots.

“There is a draft permit for recreational wilderness camping at Makua Beach which the state is considering,” said Wai`anae harbormaster William Aila, Jr. He added that people can request the one-year Keawaula access permits at any time, either by contacting DLNR’s State Parks division or him, at 697-7095.

“We truly believe that if there are more camping sites, there would be more permits to give out and a better chance at getting one,” the brothers said in their letter to Shimabukuro. “There are so many beautiful pristine beaches, but law forbids overnight camping on over 75 percent of our Wai’anae Coast beaches.”

Standing in long lines for a camping permit only to be denied a spot because all spots fill up is another grievance brought up by the petition.

On behalf of her constituents, Rep. Maile Shimabukuro contacted the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and discovered, through an official statement from Acting Director Lester K.C. Chang, that the city is working on an online permitting process, considering fee charges for camping permits, and modifying city camping rules. The City and Council would also have to approve fee charges for the camping permits.

“DPR is projecting to implement the (online permitting) system in the Fall of 2011,” Chang wrote in a letter to Rep. Shimabukuro. “Several milestones need to be cleared for that to occur. A City Ordinance change must pass the City Council to allow for the reservation system to be implemented with the fees. An online system needs to be selected and staff trained. Once the system is online, this should eliminate the long lines present campers are experiencing.”

However, before the city can even consider increasing the amount of camping sites, the new online system would need to be implemented. There are no current plans to increase the amount of camp sites anywhere on the island. “Once the online system has been implemented, the issue will be revisited,” Chang wrote in the letter to Shimabukuro.

“This petition represents the community taking action on something that is important to their families,” Rep. Shimabukuro said. “I’m encouraged that the city is already working on an online permitting system. I hope that they will seriously consider the suggestion of opening up more camp sites for our Ohana.”


People camping in Kapolei for Camping Permits - Hawaii News Now 
Petition urges more permits for camping - Star Advertiser

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