(BIVN) – The start of a controversial surf school permit program was legally blocked on Thursday.
Kona Circuit Court Judge Robert Kim granted a temporary restraining order, preventing the State Department of Land and Natural Resources from issuing the permits to the companies that were awarded through a recent lottery.
The DLNR said it settled on the lottery as the fairest way to award the permits. However, three of the four companies that were awarded permits through the luck of the draw were owned by one individual, Wesley Moore. It was later reported that Moore owned seven of the 17 companies that were entered into the lotto.
According to a report on Big Island Now, the plaintiffs who filed the application for a TRO with the court – Kona Mike’s Surf Adventures LLC, Surf Lessons Hawai’i LLC (doing business as Hawai’i Lifeguard Surf Instructors), Kona Adventure Division Inc. and Tifani Stegehuis – said the implementation of the new permits would “result in loss of business, and livelihoods, and likely the shuttering of their schools.”
Judge Kim granted the plaintiff’s TRO application and set a new hearing for January 12.
In a statement, the DLNR said it “respects the Court’s ruling and as stated previously would have preferred to award permits on the basis of seniority. However, HB 1090 which allowed such a system was vetoed during the 2023 legislative session.”
“The DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) will continue to assess and monitor the situation at Kahalu’u Bay to ensure public safety,” DLNR wrote. “We are assessing our options, including proposed legislation, rule-amendments, or some alternative means of issuing commercial surf permits. We also appreciated the coordination with the Hawai’i County Parks Department.”