Kee Beach, Haena State Park

Why $50 Hawaii Green Fee Simply Won’t Happen

Be careful what you read in the news; who doesn’t know that? Some articles would make you think you are about to pay a $50 “green” or “visitor impact” fee on your upcoming Hawaii vacation.

It was first discussed by now-Governor Josh Green, who made it a focus when he ran for governor. Later he retrenched on it because an entrance fee to a state is clearly illegal. How he ever thought that it wasn’t is even more bizarre.

What about the $50 fee for state parks, beaches, trails, etc.?

Still, don’t worry about it. While some bills may move forward, even soon, to require that visitors pay an annual $50 fee for state-owned and managed resources, that is also not happening for now.

Of all the bills being considered, just one appears likely to continue (SB304). It will, in the end, result in no changes for the foreseeable future, if ever. That bill is putting the amount of the annual fee on hold, while virtually all proposals have called for a five-year moratorium on implementing any such ones.

If it ever comes to being enacted, the bill would allow for permits or licenses, as they are now being called, to be acquired online or through physical locations. Remember that any penalties for non-compliance are years off, if ever.

How could this ever be enforced?

Even as the state envisions its Department of Land and Natural Resources hiring five staff, this is ludicrous. DLNR wasn’t able to answer questions posed to it about enforcement. Since some are physically adjacent, how will visitors even know when they cross between a county park and a state park? And what about beaches? Those of us who live here don’t know whether we are at a county or state beach necessarily. So how could visitors be expected to know? Should we ping them on their phones whenever they approach a state facility so that they pay up or get fined?

That all presumes that the way in which Hawaii might implement such a fee would fly in court.

These statewide plans cannot be compared with park-specific rules such as those for Diamond Head State Monument, Hanauma Bay State Park, or Haena State Park, which are easy to enforce due to clear physical isolation, among other things.

Future money collected to go to a special fund? Ha.

The state is notorious for earmarking funds for special needs, like protecting and preserving its natural resources. In the end, many believe the money would end up in the state’s general fund.  If the money was invested directly for its intended purposes, perhaps there would be more widespread support. Otherwise, it can easily be seen as another aspect of Hawaii’s bottomless pit of tourism greed.

DLNR is a proponent of such fees and wants to create grants for funding nonprofits in some form. DLNR said, “The establishment of green fees in several other tourism-focused economies has allowed places like the Republic of Palau, Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, and the Maldives to allow greater investment in their natural resources — reducing the overall impact of tourism on their environments, improving the quality of visitor experiences, and supporting community stewardship of these special places.”

Visitors deserve to know where the 18% accommodation tax they currently pay is going.

Visitors naturally wonder where the highest accommodation tax in the country goes. It certainly isn’t apparent in the woefully lacking Hawaii infrastructure.

Furthermore, there is widespread disgust, by residents and visitors, at how the state (and counties) are maintaining these areas. Roads and restrooms in disrepair, as one example, are abhorrent to many and are antithetical to asking for more money.

The additional $50, albeit far off in the future, adds insult to injury.

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20 thoughts on “Why $50 Hawaii Green Fee Simply Won’t Happen”

  1. Green Fees that would benefit Green. Not the Green that everyone envisions, that wouldn’t help the other Green who undoubtedly enjoys the ‘Green’ in his Accounts and Pockets. When will Hawaiians begin to choose their Politicians Better, why do they worship them as if they were the reincarnation of Pele? How can they continue down this road of dismissive denials, failed policies, and Bankrupt Government?

  2. I love Hawaii and the Ohana
    I have been coming here for 50 plus years
    and own a second home here for 25 years.
    I do complain about taxes like many others,knowing that it is necessary to provide roads, safety and infrastructure. Having the highest taxation in the Rebublic I am amazed and embarrassed with all this massive revenue collected from tourism and taxes that restrooms at the parks in Hawaii are not maintained or cleaned to anywhere near exceptable standards. In my extensive travels I would give us a 2 out of 10 on this issue. I think this is a great forum here and miss the charm of historical Hawaii and hope we can handle the hard issues that come with growth. If we pay the most we should get way closer to a 10 on this subject.

    1. That’s because the people vote for the same crooks time and again who never spend anything fixing anything; there needs to be an accounting of where all that tax money is going.

      I have been going to Maui for 15 years and in all that time have not seen the roads fixed or anything to help the people who voted for them. Time to vote all of those people out and elect some that will actually make lives better for the people that voted for them.

  3. Your comment about “Hawaii’s bottomless pit of tourism greed” is absolutely on point. Sad, but true…

  4. Once again, name one thing the state of Hawaii does well (with the possible exception of ocean safety). DLNR is widely accepted as an inept and incompetent agency with too much power and money with little to no accountability. I totally agree with BOH that a thorough accounting of where the 18% goes, but don’t hold your breath!

    1. A Thorough, Indepth…not the typical Inept, Forensic and Current Accounting of Every Facet needs to be accomplished. From the State Level, including Every Department, through the County and Local Levels to allow the Public the Knowledge to determine Where all of the Money has gone. Possibly then the Voters will Referendum Meaningful Changes. There’s Plenty of Places in Budgets where programs can be Curtailed, other’s Cut Back! Maybe even some changes in Politicians! Take the Necessary Steps.

  5. Until Hawaii can get its Fiscal Responsibilities in Order, which also means showing where the money is being spent, nothing additional should be implemented. Collecting more money that is earmarked for different purposes should be allocated appropriately and not disappear to the General Fund or some other deep dark Hawaiian hole. The DLNR wants to allocate money to non profits, how about Not. Use the money appropriately, no giving it away, and maybe everyone will see the Improvements they Expect!


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