Surf school violating law, judge finds
A recent judge's ruling could end the Hans Hedemann Surf School's four-year presence at Kaimana Beach, which has been marked by complaints that the commercial venture was incompatible with the residential neighborhood.
Circuit Court Judge Eden Elizabeth Hifo issued an order last week saying the business is operating out of the New Otani Hotel in violation of city zoning laws. Her ruling was reported in a news release Tuesday.
Hifo's ruling was on an appeal of a June Board of Zoning Appeals decision that said the surf school could continue to offer lessons from the hotel if it limited classes to no more than 12 students and three times a day.
Two residents, Mike Beason and Richard K. Quinn, both of whom live in the nearby Tropic Seas apartments, and two nonprofit organizations, Save Diamond Head Waters and the Kapiolani Park Preservation Society, sought the Board of Zoning Appeals decision and then appealed it to Circuit Court.
"It's a judgment in our favor," said Beason, whose wife, Alethea Rebman, is president of the Kapiolani Park Preservation Society, a nonprofit group dedicated to upholding the requirements of the Kapiolani Park Trust which owns the beach and permits the city to operate it.*
Rebman said in November 2003 that Hedemann's school regularly took large classes of 20 to 45 students from Kaimana Beach to the Tongg's Reef surfing spot without enough instructors. Rebman and others alleged at an informational meeting in November 2003 that the school was pushing out local beach users and surfers, making too much noise and creating unsafe conditions for the students.
The city Board of Zoning Appeals and Department of Planning and Permitting received the judge's order yesterday, city spokesman Bill Brennan said.
Hedemann, a former professional surfer whose company also offers surfing lessons at four other Waikiki locations and at Turtle Bay, said he will continue to conduct lessons at Kaimana Beach until he hears something official from the city.
Hedemann said his company tried to "be a good neighbor" by reducing class sizes and stopping class trips to Tongg's Reef, which crossed through Kaimana Beach swimming area, after the June 2005 city decision. "We'll be conducting business as usual and probably seek a clarification on the ruling," Hedemann said.
But Beason said yesterday that as recently as last weekend Hedemann classes were at Tongg's and that noisy onlookers were on the sea wall behind private condominiums.
"In meetings they say they're doing one thing, and then I see them do another," Beason said of Hedemann's school. "It doesn't seem like anything's going to change unless it is gone."
Sunday, February 19, 2006
» Kapiolani Park is owned by the Kapiolani Park Trust, whose board of directors is the Honolulu City Council. The Kapiolani Park Preservation Society is a nonprofit group dedicated to upholding the requirements of the trust. In a Thursday Page A3 article about a surf school at Kaimana Beach, the society was incorrectly named as the owner of Kapiolani Park, which includes the grassy area near Kaimana Beach.