Hawaii residents are suing to preserve a historic pier crowded with tourists


a century ago Hawaii’s Mala Wharf was built as a mooring for transport steamships Pineapple and sugar cane in front of the island. (It was ultimately unsuccessful for that purpose, as currents that were too strong hindered its landing.) But after that heyday of World War IIthe port of Maui fell into a desolate state – and was finally decimated by Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

Over those three decades, the port has grown into a hugely popular tourist destination in Hawaii, considered a premier snorkeling and diving spot. and residents according to a KITV report posted on April 7, are unhappy at how crowded the area has become with tourists – fueled in large part by social media and the internet in general. (After all, almost the entire first page of Google searches for Mala Kai are tourist and diving websites.)

Now a coalition of Maui residents is suing the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, KITV reports, saying it failed to adequately regulate the level of commercial activity at Mala Wharf. Sixteen companies have received commercial permits, the station reports, but many other unregistered companies are believed to operate boat tours, snorkeling and diving programs, and other underwater adventures at the pier.

As a result, native Hawaiians and residents are being excluded from the area.

“… They basically get a permit, and then they have a free hand on what to do down there,” attorney Christina Lizzi told KITV. “One problem with this is that the agency issues these permits without really looking at the laws it’s supposed to do when it does that.”

One of the clients Lizzi represents, Tiare Lawrence, is from Maui and says the sheer volume of crowds has prevented her and her family from participating in Hawaiian customs like fishing and canoeing.

“We’ve had situations where we’re launching our canoes, we don’t have trailer parking because all commercial operators are taking up all of the trailer parking,” Lawrence told the station.

KITV reports that two appeals are pending and a final decision is expected by June.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources declined to comment to SFGATE, citing pending litigation.


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