Gov. Lingle goes over Legislature’s head, establishes 2 surfing reserves on Oahu

By Herbert A. Sample, AP
Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lingle establishes 2 Oahu surfing reserves

HONOLULU — Gov. Linda Lingle on Wednesday established two surfing reserves on Oahu, weeks after state House Democrats killed legislation to do the same thing.

The governor’s executive order created the Duke Kahanamoku Surfing Reserve in Waikiki and the North Shore Surfing Reserve that stretches from Alii Beach to Sunset Beach.

The order is similar to legislation pushed by retiring GOP Sen. Fred Hemmings of Lanikai that the Democrat-controlled House killed on April 29, the last day of the legislative session. GOP lawmakers were furious at the time.

Lingle, a Republican, alluded to the action at a press conference Wednesday. “There are a variety of ways we can approach an issue” if the Legislature refuses, she said. The order “does what Sen. Hemmings was trying to achieve.”

In a statement, House Speaker Calvin Say, a Democrat, said no slight at Hemmings was intended. But House members heard from surfers and others with concerns about the actual impact of the reserves, such as whether they would give commercial surfing operations an advantage over recreational surfers, he said.

“My suggestion was that the governor hold a public meeting in the affected communities before designating surfing reserves by executive order,” Say added.

Hemmings on Wednesday voiced no anger about his bill, calling its demise a combination of miscommunication and politics.

Hemmings, who in 1968 won the world amateur surfing championship and a lifelong surfer, called the sport “Hawaii’s gift to the world.”

When surfers are waiting for a wave and looking back at the shore, “you think we’re the richest people in the world,” said Hemmings, 64. “Money can’t buy the blessings that we’re given here.”

Hemmings said the two reserves will help Hawaii regain some prominence in professional surfing, which he said has been lost to Australia and California, even though the North Shore remains a prime location for competitions.

The reserves won’t affect the state’s management of the areas or restrict use of them but simply marks them as landmarks important to Hawaii’s culture and history, Hemmings said.

Lingle’s order designates the reserves as places “of great cultural significance and heritage, and we’re celebrating it,” he said.

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