RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
A group says Beach Activities of Maui, Inc., whose blue rental umbrellas were seen yesterday, unfairly uses too much of the beach in front of the Outrigger Waikiki.
Waikiki residents sit down to stand up for spot on beach
Beachgoers reclaimed part of Waikiki beach by setting up their umbrellas at 6:15 a.m.
Mary Ann Mills and a group of beachgoers reclaimed part of a public beach outside the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach Hotel by setting up their umbrellas at 6:15 a.m. yesterday.
The protesters were fed up with large blue umbrellas and lounge chairs put up by the hotel's concessionaire and occupying nearly all the beach in front of the hotel.
"This is a public beach," said Mills, a Waikiki resident. "We understand they have a business. We just want part of the beach."
Mills and about a dozen residents and tourists contend that Beach Activities of Maui Inc., Outrigger's concessionaire, squeezes out beachgoers from the public beach space fronting the hotel.
Beach Activities of Maui took over the concession stand in October 2005, according to hotel general manager Jim Heather.
While neighboring hotels, the Royal Hawaiian and Sheraton Moana Surfrider, have private beach areas within their properties to set up umbrellas, the Outrigger Waikiki must set up the blue umbrellas outside of the property line.
Some residents and tourists complain that they can't walk through the area because of the rows of blue umbrellas and chairs, some that are unoccupied. They also complain the umbrellas block their view of the ocean.
Mills said they hoped to put a dent in the concessionaire's revenue to get the point across: Share the popular beach spot fronting Duke's restaurant with the public.
"What they're doing is disrespectful to everybody," said Shannon Clement of Arizona, who spends her summers in Waikiki with her children, Jutah, 13 and Jaguar, 11, because of the array of activities available that include catamaran rides, canoe paddling and swimming.
"This is a hot spot," Clement said.
The problem is compounded with the peak summer season of tourists vacationing in Hawaii, primarily Waikiki, high tides and the smaller shoreline due to recent storms, Heather said.
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Beach Activities of Maui, Inc., whose canopy of umbrellas can be seen in the far background, unfairly uses too much of the public beach fronting the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel, protesters say.
He acknowledged that they have received complaints from beachgoers about the number of umbrellas and lounge chairs taking up too much space. But Heather said he gets more complaints of the limited number of umbrellas available.
"It's a public area. As long as they follow the law, they're (attendants) not doing anything wrong with what they're doing," he said.
The concession stand has 40 umbrellas available to rent. By 10 a.m., the beach space is filled with umbrellas, two hours after they start renting them out, according to concession stand attendants.
"I understand people's concerns. It's first come, first served. If you set up your towel there, that's your spot," Heather said.
A longtime beachboy, who declined to give his name, said he had to tell the beach attendants at least four times to move their umbrellas because they were encroaching in his designated area where he runs his operation.
"It's more of a courtesy and they haven't learned that yet," the beachboy said.
"It's not our right to be here, it's a privilege. They should have the same attitude," he said.
"We're more conscientious of our neighbors. They're not," said the beachboy, noting that the concessionaire lacks aloha spirit, what Waikiki has long been known for.
"It's kind of a sad thing ... It all revolves around money," he said.
Michael Kelley, owner of Beach Activities of Maui, was not available for comment.
"I think we're acting within our boundaries," said concession stand attendant Chris Gibbons.
"Whether umbrellas are up or not, there're going to be people on top of people," he said.
Officials of the Department of Land and Natural Resources said they are looking into the matter.