Is there too much commercial activity at Maunalua Bay in East Oahu?

The state wants to hear from the bay’s many stakeholders, so it’s helping to create an advisory committee to get input and answers.

The gathering at Koko Head Elementary School was relatively small Monday night, but for those who make their living on Maunalua Bay, the stakes are high.

“We are a permitted company, meaning the state has issued us a bidded permit to operate in the bay. We have three commercial permits. One for Jet Ski and two for parasailing and we probably pay about $10,000 a month in permit fees,” said Kathy Takahashi of H2O Sports Hawaii.

H2O Sports has been operating in the bay for more than 20 years, following the rules and paying all their taxes and fees.

Until last September, permits covered only jet skiing and parasailing. But with more businesses providing recreational opportunities, the state wants everyone to play by the same rules

“We want to hear what the input is. We have so many different users here within the bay and everywhere else, we want to focus on here because there seems to be a lot of input coming from this area,” said Megan Statts of the DLNR.

Some Hawaii Kai community groups claim the state has gone too far. The new permitting process will lead to even more activity in the bay.

“The community has spent 30 years trying to decrease commercial activity in the bay. This new DOBOR (Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation) commercial activity permit actually opens up the bay all over, not only here in Maunalua but statewide,” said Ann Marie Kirk of Livable Hawaii Kai Hui.

DLNR says since the new permitting process went into effect last September, only one company has even inquired about a permit. Because in addition to to having a GET license and insurance, all new businesses must have a physical location.

“I think in the past, there were some businesses that didn’t have offices or do the correct access and may been operating from a phone in the van, but I don’t see that at all anymore,” said Takahashi.

“We’re not saying commercial permits or bad idea, but we’re saying in Maunalua, it’s very clear that people do not want any more commercial activity in the bay,” said Kirk.

Once selected, the advisory committee will communicate concerns and recommendations to the state’s Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation.