Hawaii state and local policymakers are holding a town hall meeting Tuesday to discuss new restrictions on Maunalua Bay proposed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at Hahaione Elementary School Cafeteria.

NOAA is hoping to give the bay a special designation that is aimed at protecting humpback whales and other marine life, but the idea has faced pushback by Hawaii Kai business owners who are concerned about the impact of additional regulations.

Maunalua Bay Hawaii Kai

Maunalua Bay in Hawaii Kai

Patti Epler/Civil Beat

Rep. Gene Ward, a Republican from Hawaii Kai, announced the meeting in a press release that included the headline, “Ward Promises the Meeting will not be Environmentalists Vs. Bay-Users.”

“The proposal has been met with very strong feelings by both environmentalists and bay-users and each group has taken their case to waving on the highway, so now is the time that we need to sit down at the table hear each other out, “ Ward said.

But the Hawaii Kai Marina Community Association and Friends of Maunalua Bay are already planning a rally at 6 p.m. in front of Hahaione Elementary School prior to the meeting.

“Many East Oahu residents and business owners say they had little to no input and involvement in the drafting of the proposed plan, which includes overly broad and vague language,” the group said in a press release.

Tuesday’s meeting will feature NOAA Sanctuary Superintendent Malia Chow and Suzanne Case, who leads the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Elected officials who are co-sponsoring the event include Sen. Sam Slom, Sen. Laura Thielen, Rep. Mark Hashem, Honolulu City Councilman Trevor Ozawa and Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board Chair Greg Knudsen.

In a press release, Ward promised “there will be strict ground rules enforced to make sure this is a time of reasoning together and does not become a shouting match.”

To learn more about the proposal, read Civil Beat’s prior coverage: Hawaii Kai Abuzz Over Possible New Restrictions on Maunalua Bay

About the Author