Surf Competition Draws Complaints From Maui Neighbors

Dec 20, 2019

WAILUKU— A World Surf League competition has drawn complaints of trespassing, blocked roads and parking overflow from Maui residents.

Residents near Peahi on the island's north shore issued the complaints about the 2019 Jaws Big Wave Championships event Dec. 12, The Maui News reported  Thursday.

Residents of the main access road to the event for both drivers and spectators said traffic was backed up due to minimal parking options, construction and spectator street crossings, while some roads were blocked.

Residents also expressed concerns with the environmental impact from leftover trash and debris.

The volunteer Hana Highway Regulation Committee said it counted more than 400 cars overflowing onto roads and illegally parked.

"Cars in transit have to dodge pedestrians attempting to cross the highway and cars in transit are forced to drive partially on the opposite of the road against oncoming traffic to avoid collision with vehicles parked alongside the highway," said Napua Hueu, the regulation committee chairwoman.

The big wave competition surfing season began Nov. 1 and is scheduled to run until March 31, during which contestants are on standby until conditions are ideal.

The World Surf League said it has prior knowledge of the start date and event details, but cannot predict attendance at the free event.

"While we control all access to the event venue because it is on private property, we were not able to control the County of Maui-owned land where all the spectators gathered," spokesperson Lauren Rolland said.

Resident Kolette Gunnison believes the surfing league should be responsible for ensuring road safety.

"Everybody knows that there's traffic and the worst part about it is the pedestrians in the street, bad parking, cars are sticking out," Gunnison said. "It's just the danger factor of it all."