HONOLULU (KHON2) — Back-to-back arson fires at Waikiki’s public surf lockers left many surfers without a space to store their boards, now the City is looking for a safer place to build out new racks but the question is where?
More than 1,000 surfboards went up in flames in two separate fires that the Honolulu Fire Department said were set intentionally. The Waikiki police substation is located next to the surf racks, but that did not stop the acts of arson.
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Uncle Dewey is well-known in the Waikiki community. He said the fire deprived many of a place to keep their surfboards, and a new storage facility is very needed.
Uncle Dewey said, “We definitely need it because the kupuna, the kupuna can’t carry their boards down here and a lot of them are really vintage, 10-12 feet, saves them trouble from carrying it.”
The surf rack was set on fire first in February 2020. The City repaired the damage and reopened the facility in August, but the joy did not last, as the racks were set on fire again less than a year later.
Rocky Iaukea lost several boards during both fires. He said, “I lost boards in both fires and was disappointed. That’s why I was hoping if the City were to rebuild, they would utilize the chess tables that are down on the sidewalk.”
Iaukea referred to pavilions along Kuhio Beach but those are currently being rented out to vendors.
A resolution was passed by the City Council Committee on Parks, Enterprise Services and Culture & the Arts to encourage the administration to find a suitable location for new surfboard storage.
While some like Uncle Dewey said the same location works but the City needs to make the surf racks more secure.
He said, “Have a gate where it has a code so only the people who have the racks can get in, and maybe change the code maybe every month or so.”
While others said that location is troublesome.
Iaukea said, “It’s been lit on fire twice here, let’s get this stuff out of here.”
In a statement, the City’s Department of Enterprise Services Director Jerry Pupillo said they are exploring new locations and are open to finding a partner if someone in the private sector is willing to provide a space to store surfboards.
“We are open to and would happily explore opportunities brought forth by community stakeholders in the area who are interested in the City’s surfboard racks. Trying to find an acceptable and suitable location for all is our collective logical next step. Like many in Waikīkī, we continue to be saddened by the impact that the senseless acts of destruction have had on members of our surfing community, along with the substantial losses incurred to both public and private property by the repeated acts of vandalism.”
Acts of arson are ultimately the cause of the disruption to the surfer community in Waikiki.
Iaukea said, “It’s a different world down here than when I grew up in the 60s you know, it’s unfortunate.”
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For now, the search for a new surf rack location continues.