Controversy Erupts as Single Owner Snags Majority of Surf Permits in Hawaii's Lottery System

Nomad

Well-known member
Aug 26, 2023
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Surf school owners on Hawaii's Big Island are fuming after a recent lottery-style permit allocation. The provision led to one individual monopolizing three out of four permits, leaving 15 other hopefuls unable to operate legally at Kona's Kahalu'u Beach Park, a vital spot for surf lessons. The state, however, defends its process, asserting that the lottery is a strategic move to manage surfer crowds and commercial instructors.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) justified the lottery as a response to the county's struggle in selecting a surf school. The state opted for a lottery after a vetoed legislative measure. Despite acknowledging the potential for such outcomes, the DLNR emphasizes their hands were tied by existing rules. They express plans to introduce legislative changes in 2024.

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This doesn't seem like that big a deal to me. As the State DLNR points out, they were simply following the lottery rules, which required random selection based on individual distinct companies, rather than company ownership. That was always the situation going into the drawing. The only thing I'm wondering is whether the owner of the three companies purposefully formed three separate companies to increase their odds of getting a permit, i.e., if any "gaming the system" was involved.
 
This doesn't seem like that big a deal to me. As the State DLNR points out, they were simply following the lottery rules, which required random selection based on individual distinct companies, rather than company ownership. That was always the situation going into the drawing. The only thing I'm wondering is whether the owner of the three companies purposefully formed three separate companies to increase their odds of getting a permit, i.e., if any "gaming the system" was involved.

That seems awfully clever if the owner did indeed form three separate companies in order to increase their odds of getting a permit. By having 3 permits now, he has eliminated his competition. I hope lawmakers realize how their "fair" lottery has some drawbacks and isn't very fair at all to those who know how to find the loopholes. Thankfully these permits are only for one year and maybe things will change.
 
The recent permit allocation for surf schools in Hawaii's Big Island raises concerns about fairness and access. Allowing one person to monopolize multiple permits while leaving others unable to operate legally is an unfair outcome. The state should reassess its lottery system and ensure a more equitable distribution of permits to support a thriving and diverse surf school community.
 
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