Remedies Are Split How To Handle Kailua Beach Vendor Crunch

Is Kailua Beach for business or pleasure?

Kailua residents and neighborhood board members of late have been protesting violations by vendor recreation concessions being offered at the park which, to them, are disturbing the environment as well as the solitude the beach community has enjoyed for decades.

Liz Rizzo and Buddy

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Liz Rizzo and Buddy wave to Kailua motorists March 30 to protest the lack of beach vendor controls.

“City parks rules are being violated daily,” wrote Kailua Neighborhood Board chairman Chuck Prentiss in a letter to the daily paper. “Tour buses illegally park and destroy grassy areas, and dangerous kite boards chase sunbathers away.”

With few enforced rules, residents say, Kailua Beach Park is being overrun by illegal commercial businesses hoping to grab a share of the cash cow that this tourist magnet is. Both inside and outside of the beach park, merchants rent out kite boards, paddle boards, kayaks, body boards and other beach and water equipment to the public.

The neighborhood board has proposed a single-vendor concession at the park, which would consist of a single contract determined by a competitive best-bid approach. It would limit concession hours, prohibiting activity from 1 p.m. Saturday to 6:30 a.m. Monday. The contractor would operate out of the existing snack bar building, or a temporary kiosk. Concession kayaks and paddle boards also would have to be launched into Kaelepulu Stream near the lifeguard stand.

The City Council’s proposal, meanwhile, has changed from two commercial permits with rules made by the parks department, to a no-concession, no-access measure. Bill 11 CD1 as amended was introduced by City Councilman Ikaika Anderson, who has arranged for a special Parks and Cultural Affairs Committee hearing on it at 6:30 p.m. April 18 at Kailua High School. For more information, call his office at 768-5003.

To some established resident vendors, however, such as Bob Twogood of Twogood Kayaks, the board’s single-vendor proposal could seriously impact small business opportunities in the area. Awarding to the highest bidder, he said, would create a “Waikiki-style” concession and increase daily rentals inside the park.

“Naturally, more visitors want to come and enjoy this wonderful place,” stated Twogood, who favors a commercial-activity permit system. “(The permit system) would be limited, well-controlled and strictly enforced … to allow all Oahu residents, as well as visitors, to rent equipment at a ‘brick and mortar’ establishment in the business district of Kailua and have that equipment dropped off at an appropriate location in or near the beach park.”