Beach closings will be inadequate without enforcement
The city will close four more beach parks on the Leeward Coast in an effort to discourage illegal activity.
The city's continuing health and safety program will place four more beaches off limits to the public at night, extending park closures across nearly half of the shoreline on the Leeward Coast.
The program is an attempt to rid the parks of homeless people and tamp down criminal activity as well as noise and other disturbances that have upset nearby residents. However, closing parks and parking lots is inadequate without law enforcement. A parks patrol of police officers, as Mayor Mufi Hannemann proposed earlier this year, will be necessary.
Later this month, signs will go up warning that people are banned from Pokai Bay, Nanakuli, Tracks and parts of Lualualei beach parks from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., except to get to the shoreline. Earlier this summer, the city shut down Mokuleia, prohibiting the public's use of the park from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., adding to the list of nighttime closures that already covered Ala Moana, Maili and Ulehewa, among others.
Parking at some of the sites has been banned but evidently has had little effect in reducing problems. Moreover, Leeward area community groups were worried that illegal activities were reflecting poorly on their neighborhoods. Of particular concern was publicity about the manslaughter trial in the death of a visitor at Zablan Beach.
"We don't want to show that our beach parks are unsafe," Nanakuli Neighborhood Board Chairwoman Patty Teruya told the Star-Bulletin's Gene Park. "We want the tourists to feel safe."
Her anxiety is understandable, but no one - tourists or residents - will be safe until the parks are secured, and that won't happen until those intent on doing others harm or breaking laws are discouraged by law enforcement from frequenting the parks.
In his State of the City address in February, Hannemann voiced his intention to create a cadre of police officers specifically aimed at enforcing park closures. He also sought funding of $63,000 to start up the patrols, both of which would be steps in the right direction. In the meantime, police officials should consider sending more nighttime patrols through the parks to deter criminal behavior.
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