SUMMER UPDATE 2018 [HANA HIGHWAY REGULATION COMMITTEE REPORT]
The Hana Highway Regulation has been conducting research on the Road to Hana industries since 2016 through various roadside surveys counting traffic and logging general activity patterns. In 2017, the Hana Community Association adopted the Hana Highway Regulation as an organization initiative to address the growing concerns from the community. We maintain a database of commercial operators based on web research, traffic surveys, hot spot surveillance, offense submissions by the community and field reports by survey volunteers. We have been keeping record of the tours and transportation industry for nearly two years and just began expanding our database to include food and beverage operators.
Based on our research, the Hana Highway has experienced an exponential increase in visitors from both independent travelers to commercial tours. The Road to Hana, its parking and comfort station infrastructure, was never designed or intended for this magnitude of use and its associated traffic and human impact. Based on our most recent traffic data, the Road to Hana is considered to be four times over capacity and is considered to be insufficient to service the current level of use which is creating issues such as but not limited to; overcrowding, illegal parking, unsafe driving conditions, private property trespassing, injuries, emergency rescues, unlicensed commercial activity, economic adversities, waste disposal concerns, public facility cleanliness, plumbing issues, stream and ocean contamination, health hazards and death.
The Road to Hana Code of Conduct is available as a page on our website, it has been published by various media outlets and visitor industry platforms. We continue to push these guidelines for safer embarkments by all Hana Highway travelers, both kama’aina and visitor. We are preparing an infographic brochure to serve as an educational piece that outlines the Code of Conduct which will include a map of the entire route and other helpful points. We are composing various scripts to create media pieces for promotion through our airports, rental car companies, resorts, activity agencies and other avenues of pre-arrival visitor communication.
We recently launched our Commercial Partners Program and Certification opportunity for both tours and transportation as well as food and beverage vendors along the highway. Our Registered Commercial Partners program is an independent verification system to distinguish operators in compliance and our certification opportunity identifies industry leaders in sustainable tourism. Some of the criteria for review include verification of business compliance with all federal, state, and local regulations for all products and services in addition to commitment of abiding by all necessary permit conditions. The company will demonstrate commitment to the Road to Hana Code of Conduct. The company will provide accurate information to guests that can be referenced and utilizes marketing that is accurate. The company demonstrates responsible travel practices in addition to contributing to conservation and community efforts annually. We intend for both the Commercial Partners Program and Certification opportunity to encourage better business practices along the Road to Hana.
We have identified illegal parking and private property trespassing as detriments to visitor safety and resident peace. These issues directly contribute to overcrowding and other intrusive effects on the day to day life of our community. Although increased signage has had some impact, field advisors report that continuing offenses to community policy are extensive. Sites experiencing difficulties have seen a 96% reduction in traffic hazards and resident frustrations when a field advisor is on the premises mediating and alleviating the offenses as they present themselves. Typically one or any combination of the following acts are the culprit of roadside chaos; illegal parking, private property trespassing, unlicensed commercial activity and /or commercial activity within sacred sites.
Over thousands of years, the indigenous people of Hawai’i have developed and harnessed knowledge that strengthens environment sustainability and fosters cultural well-being. We are drafting a visitor safety system program that draws upon this insight and connection to country to protect and manage land and shorelines along the Road to Hana. We would like to implement field advisors at the various areas seeing heaviest impact and complications. Resident volunteers will enter a voluntary agreement with the Hana Community Association and adhere to policies and procedures to protect the biodiversity; animals, plants and other species that call the Road to Hana home and to conserve the area’s cultural resources such as sacred sites and water sources. We will manage district volunteers impressing the effectiveness and value of place-specific expertise for the role of field advisors in relation to the visitor safety system.
More residents are expressing an affinity to protect the culture and wildlife along the Road to Hana but government funding is severely lacking and doesn’t meet the demand to protect the vast land and sea country of our home region. We plan to secure financial resources to implement phase one of our visitor safety system through a crowd-funding campaign and we look forward to your support in that capacity. An announcement will be made when the campaign is live and you will be able to learn more about the system at that time and contribute feedback to the Hana Community Association to help in final considerations as the project moves forward.
The primary nuisances and unfortunate events that occur along the Road to Hana are caused by drivers parking illegally, individuals trespassing on private property and commercial operators that are either conducting unlicensed commercial activity or conducting commercial activity within a sacred sight. All of these incidents, paired with an unregulated visitor count [currently beyond the venue’s capacity] - create a significant compromise to the Road to Hana economy and ecosystem. This situation, left unmanaged, negatively effects the quality of life for residents and jeopardizes the safety of visitors along the Hana Highway.
The act of drivers parking vehicles in an illegal, prohibited or restricted area that causes an obstruction to traffic, a traffic hazard or a dangerous situation.
Any vehicle parked outside the white lines that mark the shoulders of roadways is considered to be an illegal parking violation. At various sights along the highway there is adequate room for a few cars to park alongside the road however, if a vehicle is protruding outside the white lines and into the roadway, or if the vehicle is parked beneath a no parking sign or within the area of a designated no parking zone, it would be considered a parking violation. Danger increases when cars are parked outside the white lines, facing the opposite direction of traffic flow and / or hindering bridge clearance.
Entering or remaining on a premises or property in which one does not have the authorization, license or privilege to do so causing danger to themselves and a liability to the property owner. It also causes overcrowding and sight desecration.
Laws vary slightly from state to state with some being very basic and others having very detailed requirements for providing proper notice. Outlined in §708-814, Hawaii trespassing laws state that a person commits trespassing when they knowingly enter and remain on a property after a reasonable warning by the owner, an authorized representative or law enforcement officer. This is applicable to commercial properties as well. For agricultural lands that are neither enclose nor designed to keep intruders out, signage must be visibly displayed and clearly noticeable from outside the property. With the lack of property management, most of the highlight sights become unrightfully crowded causing the area’s ecosystem to be disregarded; desecrated with litter and feces.
UNLICENSED COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY:
Soliciting and or facilitating commercial services without the adequate legalities in place, causing overcrowding and economic instability for the Road to Hana industry.
The State of Hawaii requires all individuals/entities engaged in commercial, for-profit tour activity by vehicle on public roads, be licensed and permitted by the State of Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission. Legally Licensed Tour Operators are assigned a PUC License Number which by law must be displayed in a conspicuous location on the outside of touring vehicles. Most are located on the front and rear bumper area of the touring vehicle and look similar to this: PUC–1234-C. It is ILLEGAL for anyone to engage in for-profit, commercial tours on public roadways without a PUC License and those engaging in such activities are breaking the law.
Legally Licensed Food Vendors are issued a department of health permit which by law must be displayed in a conspicuous location within the eatery. It is against the law for an unlicensed individual/entity to advertise or solicit commercial services without the proper legalities.
Presently there are numerous unlicensed tour operations advertising illegal tours online. TripAdvisor has (35) Listings Under Private Tours on Maui, at least (18) are unlicensed or illegal. Of the (35) Restaurants logged along the Road to Hana on Tripadvisor, at least (5) lack a health permit and therefore considered unlicensed commercial activity. There is a lack of regulation presence by the public utilities commission and the department of health which festers the black market that currently thrives. This creates overcrowding, a dangerous predicament for the general public and an unfair competitive advantage for the illegal operators at the expense of legitimate, licensed companies. Although many of these unlicensed ground tours have stellar reviews, great employees and some have been operating for several years - the fact still remains that they are operating illegally, likely lacking other adequate insurances, permits or certificates and subsequently possibly miscounting the appropriate scope of taxations in the realms of both government and community give-back.
You can see if a tour operator is licensed via the PUC website at www.puc.hawaii.gov in the Advanced Docket Search section.
COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY WITHIN A SACRED SIGHT:
Commercial activity within a sacred sight by either a legal tour operator or illegal tour operator, both create an unfair competitive advantage for those soliciting and facilitating commercial services on or beyond private property which creates a dangerous predicament for the trespassing party and a severe liability to property owners. It causes unrightful overcrowding and sight desecration. Commercial activity within a sacred sight also creates an economic instability for the Road to Hana industry with legal operators in compliance and held accountable by various State and Federal agencies to following the rules and regulations. Legal operators in full compliance are not allowed to offer accommodations to sights located on or beyond private property which creates an unfair competitive advantage for the illegal and some of the daring legal operators who disregard laws and community policy, continuing to solicit / facilitate access to sights on or beyond private property. The majority of sacred sights (most on private property) rank the highest online based on the search for most popular sights on the island. Concierge and activity agents are more likely to book with companies who will agree to guest expectations therefore choosing those illegal and daring legal operators who will disregard laws and community policy to satisfy guest interests. This pushes those illegal and daring legal operators to the top of the list for most recommended or reviewed tour companies.
You can browse photos of visitor experiences at Kaihalulu and Waioka on most of the vendor pages featured within the “Private Tours on Maui” search at www.tripadvisor.com