Thursday, June 23, 2011

New Rules for Kaneohe Bay Sandbar

HONOLULU -- A controversial move to get control over free flowing alcohol at a popular Windward Oahu boating spot is drawing support from a grieving family.Friends and relatives of Nelden Maka Torres, 26, are still trying to cope with their loss.. The father of two young girls, ages seven and 2 months, died after a fight on Memorial Day weekend that started at the Kaneohe sandbar and ended at Heeia Kea pier.

Those close to Torres say it is sad things had to get to this point"Everything we feared was going to happen, did happen," says Shalomar Silva, a friend of Torres.

The state land board will take up a proposal to approve emergency rules that set up a safety zone around the sandbar.  The restrictions banning alcohol and disorderly conduct would be in place on weekends and holidays.

Earlier this month, Silva took part in a vigil for Torres calling for an end to alcohol-related violence. He is all for the crackdown on booze and unruly conduct at the sand bar for the sake of public health and safety."From people getting to hurt, it has escalated to what we really didn’t want to see, and that's losing someone. Maybe we should try it this way," said Silva.  Silva has been out at the sandbar when it is peaceful, and when things have been out of control. He worries about enforcement, but is all for using Torres’ death as an example to spare others the grief his family his going through.

Makala Pua Kanuha who is Torres' aunt, says she too supports the new proposal for the safey of others.  City lawyers decided not to prosecute the case after witnesses says that Torres threw the first punch and that the other man was defending himself.  Torres died after he fell and hit his head on the pavement. The Medical Examiner’s Office found both alcohol and cocaine in Torres’ system.  "A change needs to happen. People need to take responsibility for their actions and we make to come together and make a change, make a difference," says Silva.  Other close friends of the Torres family are considering testifying at the land board meeting in favor of the emergency rules. 

State land board chairman William Aila told KITV that if the board gives him the authority to move ahead with the rules, they will go in effect almost right away.  "If the board gives me that approval, we will walk it over to the lieutenant governor and upon the lieutenant governor signing, it becomes a rule for the next 120 days," says Aila.  The state will then have four months to decide how to make the rules permanent after evaluating it's effectiveness and getting public input about the restrictions.

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