CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
The public surf storage racks on Kuhio Beach behind the Waikiki police substation offer surfers easy access to their boards. The City Council has plans to clean up the locker system, which has a wait list of 600 people. CLICK FOR LARGE
City looks to wipe out surfboard locker backlog
A Council bill would impose limits on surfboard lockers
When Don Apa, 73, is not surfing at Waikiki five days a week, he stores his 10-foot surfboard at the Waikiki surf racks behind the Waikiki police substation.
For Apa and other surfers, the 600 public surf storage racks on Kuhio Beach offer easy access to their boards -- they do not have to carry them from distant parking stalls.
But with a wait list of 600 people that has remained unchanged for the past four years, the City Council wants to clean up the locker system.
That drew concern from Apa, who worried that the City Council's plans would raise the $10 monthly rate or force him out of the storage area that has allowed him to surf regularly in Waikiki.
To alleviate the backlog, the Council wants to give the city Department of Enterprise Services, currently in charge of the area, the authority to open up the surf racks to others by shortening the amount of time surfers could use them. Elderly and handicapped persons could use the racks for longer periods.
Sean Copp, president of Palekaiko Beachboys Club, a nonprofit association, testified yesterday against Bill 67, saying the jurisdiction of the area is under the Department of Land and Natural Resources, not with the City Council.
Both Djou and Sidney Quintal, director of the Enterprise Services Department, said that should not be a concern, with clarification expected from the DLNR by next week.
If Bill 67 passes, the city's Enterprise Department plans to limit a person to one surfboard locker instead of two, beginning January 2008.
To help reduce the wait list, a class system would divide the racks among senior citizens, people with physical disabilities, local residents and nonlocal residents. Each group would have a certain number of spaces, Quintal said.
Rates would probably increase two times or more to cover maintenance of the area and personnel, Quintal said.
Most surfers say they are willing to pay more, with the main concern being a time limit imposed on the lease, Quintal said.
"You've got people that have been down there a long time, some in excess of 20 years," Quintal said. "The old-timers, we have to respect them."
Quintal expects senior citizens and people with disabilities would have no term limits, which might disappoint younger surfers.
Officials say they hope the increased fee and oversight will eliminate problems: a growing black market for surfboard storage with some leaseholders renting out their spaces for $50 or more per week; people dealing drugs; homeless gathering in the area; and a decline in appearance.
Nate Mau, 61, who has used the surfboard rack for at least 10 years, says he is comfortable with Quintal's plans.
"If he cleans it up, it may really open up a whole lot," he said.
The Council will hold a hearing on Bill 67 on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. The measure is scheduled for a final reading on Nov. 15.