Friday, September 21, 2001

Maui mayor reopens
park to camping
with new rules

As many as 40 people had been
living at Kanaha Beach Park
before it was closed

By Gary T. Kubota

KAHULUI >> Maui Mayor James "Kimo" Apana reopened the campgrounds at Kanaha Beach Park yesterday, seven months after closing it for public health reasons.

But some critics said the county needs to make other parks available for camping to reduce overuse of Kanaha and take more steps to keep the parks clean, including those used unofficially by campers.

Kanaha is the only authorized county campground on the Valley Isle, and some 40 people including 24 children had been living in a 10-acre area there before the county closed it in February.

Many of the people moved to other, less visible parks, in South and West Maui, where camping is illegal but detection more difficult.

Art Apana has proposed opening three other parks for camping and said he will review the rules at Kanaha to determine if they might be used at other campgrounds.

The county intends to limit camping to three consecutive days -- a measure it has not enforced in the recent past -- and also require all campers to leave the campground on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

County spokeswoman Karlynn Kawahara said the required departure of campers two days a week allows county workers to clean the campsite without having to ask people to move their belongings.

As before, the daily charge for a permit is $3 for an adult and 50 cents for children.

Campers are required to have a copy of their permits with them to present to a county official or police officer, and only persons with permits are allowed within the campgrounds between midnight and 6 a.m.

Some Maui residents say they do not mind the camping at the beach or homeless people using the camping facilities, but they want to make sure the campgrounds remain clean.

"As long as they keep the place clean and don't make a mess, it's all right with me," said Wailuku resident Ambrose Momoa, whose family occasionally has picnics at Kanaha.

Momoa said that before Apana closed the campground at Kanaha, the site was beginning to look bad, with a number of abandoned cars in the parking lot.

The county has since removed the cars, fixed a broken sprinkler system and installed several barbecue grills and picnic tables.

Maui Councilwoman Jo Anne Johnson said she worried about the park at Papalaua in West Maui, where Apana agreed not to enforce a no-camping ban until the Council reviews if it should become a campground.

Johnson said Papalaua is looking "nasty," with trash everywhere, and she wants the administration to impose some rules to control the number of homeless people living there.

Johnson said she is hoping the county Parks Department can impose interim rules to limit overnight stays to three consecutive days at Papalaua.

One camping advocate would like to see the stays extended at least at Kanaha Beach Park.

David E. Garner, a Kula resident who has lobbied to open more parks to camping on Maui, said the rules for camping at Kanaha also need to be revised to extend camping to five from three days a week.

He said the rules do not encourage visitors, such as European windsurfers, to camp at the park during competitions.

"It's not user-friendly," he said.

German visitors Kerstin Wenzel and Benjamin Schielicke said they had great difficulty figuring out what camping rules applied at what park, especially when there are different rules for county, state and federal parks on Maui.

The two, who had been using a guidebook published three years ago, said police awoke them at 2 a.m. yesterday to tell them that they should not be camping at Kanaha.

"I wish it would be a little bit easier to understand what's allowed and what's not," Wenzel said.

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