Kailua seeks balance
Businesses and jobs vs. preserving a residential community
(page 2 of 3)
From Annoying to Dangerous
Randy Cates, who runs a marine salvage business, remembers a popular Kailua canoe regatta a few years ago when the races were interrupted four times because visitors in kayaks paddled into the way of oncoming Hawaiian canoes.
“I was sitting with an old-time paddler, Cappy Vickery, one of my dad’s paddling buddies, and he said, ‘How is it that we have a Hawaiian sport that had to have a permit, being stopped by kayak companies that don’t have permits?’ ”
Sometimes encounters with tourists are more dangerous. Many residents have stories of helping tourists who couldn’t control their kayaks in Kailua’s normal conditions, who capsized or were drifting out to sea. Some swimmers have even been banged by wayward kayaks.
Kailua Bay’s popularity with locals and visitors means there are frequent offshore rescues. However, when rescuers or ambulances have to drive in and out of Lanikai and Kailua Beach Park on busy days, they have to navigate narrow streets lined with cars – many parked illegally – or jammed with traffic.
Capt. Terry Seelig, spokesman for the Honolulu Fire Department, says not all incidents are recorded, so comprehensive numbers are not available. However, he believes the number of rescues in Kailua has remained relatively stable over the past two years. For the 13 months from March 2011 through March 2012, records indicate 28 active “ocean rescue responses” in Kailua Bay and Lanikai, averaging more than two a month. These include boaters and kayakers in distress, and various other calls. There were 56 other dispatches to the Kailua Bay area, which included medical calls and others. Those rescued include both locals and tourists.
He acknowledged that there are many calls that don’t make it into the HFD logs, including rescues and assistance by county lifeguards, by officers of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and by private citizens.
Seelig, who grew up in Kailua and on its beach, sees the increased competition for beach and trail access in Kailua. “It’s just a pressure-cooker situation,” he says. “It used to be more relaxed, but it’s changed.”
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