The Department of Land and Natural Resources has issued a Notice of Alleged Violations to Simon Valej of Hang Loose Boat Tours for Alleged Unauthorized Alteration of Historic Properties and Unauthorized Land Use Within the Conservation District Located at Punalu‘u Wharf, Ka‘u, Hawai‘i.
A site inspection conducted on June 26, 2017, revealed remnants of the historic Punalu‘u Wharf have been impacted allegedly with heavy equipment, and significant ground disturbance has occurred with the State Land Use Conservation District.
State of Hawai‘i historic preservation laws state that it is a civil and administrative violation for any person to take, appropriate, excavate, injure, destroy, or alter any historic property or burial site during the course of land development or land alteration activities, without obtaining the required approvals; and State of Hawai‘i Administrative Rules for land use(s) within the State Land Use Conservation District state that no land use (s) shall be conducted in a Conservation District unless a permit or approval is first obtained from the DLNR or the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR). It is alleged that Mr. Valej failed to obtain any such approvals from the State.
For historic preservation violations, the statute states: Any person who violates this section shall be fined not more than $10,000 for each separate violation. If the violator directly or indirectly has caused the loss of, or damage to, any historic property or burial site, the violator shall be fined an additional amount determined by the court or an administrative adjudicative authority to be equivalent to the value of the lost or damaged historic property or burial site. Each day of continued violation of this provision shall constitute a distinct and separate violation for which the violator may be punished. Equipment used by a violator for the taking, appropriation, excavation, injury, destruction, or alteration of any historic property or burial site, shall be subject to seizure and disposition by the State without compensation to tits owner or owners.
For violations of Land Use Conservation District administrative rules: the BLNR may subject individuals to fines of up to $15,000.00 per violation in addition to administrative costs. If activity continues after written or verbal notice from the DLNR, willful violation may incur an additional fine of up to $15,000.00 per day per violation for each day in which the violation persists.
In the Notice of Alleged Violations sent to Mr. Valej, DLNR Chair Suzanne Case writes, “This notice is to inform you that the alleged alteration and destruction of historic properties, and permanent change in the land area within the Conservation District created by the land use was not reviewed nor authorized by the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The matter will be scheduled for a decision by the Board of Land and Natural Resources at a time and date to be announced.”
DLNR is working with Hawai‘i County to further investigate allegations that the company left two piles of dirt on the shore after trying to excavate land for a launch. It is also attempting to work with the land owner on mitigation measures with respect to potential impacts in the ocean.
Hang Loose Boat Tours has a valid commercial use permit (CUP) from the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR). Its access permit from the private land owner was revoked, so unless the company can show it has another access point, which is required for the commercial use permit, DOBOR could ask the Land Board to revoke it.