Some of the biggest names in big wave surfing sue the State Dept. of Transportation
Some of the biggest names in big wave surfing are teaming up and suing The Hawaii State Department of Transportation.
Click here to watch Nana Ohkawa's report.
The battle over the controversial barriers along Laniakea beach on the North Shore just went to a new level. The big wave surfers include Reno Abellira, Mark Cunningham, Keone Downing and Jock Sutherland. The Save Laniakea Coalition is also a part of the lawsuit.
The big wave surfers have big problems with the barriers. First and foremost, they say the barriers block access to Laniakea Support Park. Abellira's been surfing the Laniakea break for more than 50 years.
"The Laniakea barricade the DOT made is not a solution, it's a punishment and I'm very upset about it," said Abellira.
"The state is trying to pretend its doing this as a maintenance procedure, or repair, or exception to state and county laws that require it to get a shoreline management permit as well as an environmental assessment," said attorney Bill Saunders.
The DOT installed the 45 concrete barriers to test if that would help keep traffic moving in the heavily congested area. It's popular place for tourists and residents to park across the street and cross over to see turtles or to surf.
But the plaintiffs say the barriers have actually increased traffic and danger in the area.
"All they've really done is push the congestion up to now where Chun's Reef is. Everyone's slowing down, people who want to see the turtles they are basically (parking) above and below Laniakea now," said Allebira.
That's forcing people to along the highway.
"We are talking about families with strollers, me in a wheelchair that's really heavy. There's only a bike strip paved area along the side of the highway," said surfer Bill Martin who is also a plaintiff.
The people suing said they agree that there's a problem in the area. They just don't agree with how the state has decided to try and fix it.
"The smarter solutions that have come from grassroots in the community have been ignored and this sledge hammer approach of we will block off the parking is probably the worst option of all," said Saunders.
When the barriers were first installed the DOT said it was a month project to see if it could be a long term solution.
Regarding the lawsuit the DOT says it hasn't seen it and doesn't comment on ongoing litigation.
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