The Board of Land and Natural Resources will meet next week Friday to consider approval of proposed amendments to state boating rules that would prohibit the possession, use or consumption of alcohol; loud, abusive or disorderly conduct; and the presence of persons under the influence of alcohol, narcotics or non-prescription drugs at the sandbar in Kaneohe Bay.
The public is invited to sign up to present testimony at the BLNR meeting, which will be held on July 27, beginning at 9 a.m. in Land Board conference room 132, Kalanimoku State Office building, 1151 Punchbowl St..
The proposed new rule would create a rectangular safety zone in the middle of Kaneohe Bay that is just over a square mile, comprising the majority of the sandbar and defined by six marker buoys.
Provisions of the rule would serve to protect the public while visiting the sandbar on three designated holiday weekends in summer.
The rule will also serve to foster respect for this historical asset and traditional cultural property.
The safety zone is identical in size and placement to the zone that was approved last year by the Land Board.
Based on testimony received at a public hearing on June 28 at Heeia Kea State Park, the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation is proposing that the rule apply only for three state holidays: Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day, including any three-day weekend associated with these holidays.
These three summer holiday weekends have historically been the times when the greatest numbers of people journey to the sandbar to consume alcohol and party, and when the greatest number of disturbances has occurred.
Boating officials are proposing to adopt these rules permanently in a new section in Title 13-256-73.13 Ocean Recreation Management Rules and areas, Subchapter 5 (Windward Oahu Ocean Recreation Management Area).
There has been a history of disturbances at the sand bar involving crowds and excessive drinking on holiday weekends, when there could be more than 200 boats and 500 people present. As far back as 2004 and 2005, there were brawls involving dozens of people.
To address public concern, DLNR increased its safety outreach at Kaneohe and was joined by other state and federal enforcement agencies. In July 2011, DLNR adopted and began enforcing a temporary 120-day emergency rule following a fatality in that same year that stemmed from excessive drinking and disorderly behavior at the sandbar.