Surf schools needed
As a kama‘aina of Kahalu‘u and the director of The Kohala Center’s Kahalu‘u Bay Education Center for the past eight years, I am also very passionate about the issue of surf schools operating in Kahalu‘u Bay.
Many area residents and people concerned about the health of the bay’s ecosystem, safety issues and overcrowding would like to see commercial activity in the water prohibited outright. Surf school operators do not want their ability to conduct business restricted, and the business community does not want to see contributions to our local economy reduced.
What has not been mentioned in coverage of the surf school pilot program is that state law explicitly restricts the number of schools and students that can occupy Kahalu‘u Bay at any given time.
Hawaii Administrative Rules (section 13-256-152) requires surf schools to obtain permits from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to conduct commercial water sports instruction in the bay, limits the number of permits issued to four schools and restricts each school to eight students in the water at a time.
Because schools must access county property to access state waters, the county has a role to play in monitoring and regulating these activities. We will work with all stakeholders to ensure compliance with these regulations.
The Kohala Center based its budget and fees on our best estimates of the costs to plan, launch and administer this new program. After a six-month pilot, we will collaborate with the county to evaluate and revise the fees based on actual expenses and experience.
The Kohala Center’s vision has always been to foster a state of pono. This pilot program seeks to find middle ground that supports a healthy bay, a healthy economy, a healthy community and public safety.
Learn more about the history of this program at koha.la/surfschool-faq.
Director, Kahalu‘u Bay Education Center