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Board bans alcohol at Kaneohe sandbar during holidays

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    CTY BOATING - Even at high tide Ahu O Laka sandbar was busy with Labor Day weekend visitors on Sunday in Kaneohe Bay. The DNLR's Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation was at Heeia Kea Pier pier to renew ramp and boat registration, hand out pamphlets about marine safety and to lend life vests for individuals heading out to Kaneohe Bay on boats. Honolulu Star-Bulletin Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell, September 6, 2009

Members of the Board of the Land and Natural Resources unanimously approved an emergency rule today to ban alcohol at the Kaneohe sandbar during the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends. 

The emergency rule is being imposed in the aftermath of the death of Nelden Torres, 26, who was involved in a fight at the Heeia Kea Small Boat Harbor during Memorial Day weekend. More than 200 boats and 500 people congregated at the sandbar, Ahu o Laka, during the three-day holiday. 

Many who testified at today’s board meeting said most problems at Ahu o Laka occur during three-day holidays, prompting members to ban alcohol and disorderly conduct at the sandbar during holidays over a 120-day period. In addition, people who appear under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not be allowed there. Many people have complained about the alcohol and drug use and fights at the site.

“This decision gives us the tools to go out and deal more effectively with the problem causers while allowing the public the use of Ahu o Laka in a responsible manner,” said Board Chairman William Aila Jr. 

Board members plan to discuss dogs and loud noise at the sandbar, and recommendations by regular boaters at the sandbar to implement a permitting process for boaters to access Ahu o Laka. A woman was seriously injured Tuesday at the sandbar when a 130-pound bull mastiff attacked her.

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