Public Lands; Liability

Declares that the government is not liable for accidents and
injuries occurring on unimproved public property; requires the
State or county operating a public beach park develop and
implement a plan for warning of dangerous natural conditions;
repeals Act 190, SLH 1996. 

THE SENATE                              S.B. NO.           621
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 1999                                
STATE OF HAWAII                                            

                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT



 1      SECTION 1.  The Hawaii Revised Statutes is amended by adding
 2 a new chapter to be appropriately designated and to read as
 3 follows:
 4                             "CHAPTER
 6         -1  Definitions.  As used in this chapter:
 7      "Government" means any unit of government in this State,
 8 including any county or combination of counties, any department,
 9 agency, institution, board, commission, district, council,
10 bureau, office, governing authority, or other instrumentality of
11 state or county government, or any corporation or other
12 establishment owned, operated, or managed by or on behalf of this
13 State or any county.
14      "Public beach" means beaches and shoreline fronting public
15 beach parks and public beach accesses.
16         -2  Natural condition of unimproved public land;
17 liability.  Neither a government nor a government officer or
18 employee shall be liable for an injury caused by a natural
19 condition of any unimproved public land, including but not

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                                     S.B. NO.           621

 1 limited to any natural condition of any lake, stream, bay, river,
 2 ocean, trail access, or beach.  
 3         -3  Public beaches; other public lands.(a)  Public
 4 beaches shall be deemed to be in a natural condition and
 5 unimproved notwithstanding the provision or absence of public
 6 services such as lifeguards, police or sheriff patrols, medical
 7 services, fire protection services, beach cleanup services,
 8 restrooms, parking lots, seawalls, revetments, groins, signs, or
 9 other shore protection structures.
10      (b)  Public lands shall be deemed to be in a natural
11 condition and unimproved notwithstanding the existence of or
12 maintenance of trails and pathways on the land.
13         -4  Rescue services.  Nothing in this chapter shall be
14 construed to immunize the government from liability for the
15 negligent performance of rescue services. 
16         -5  Public beach; warnings and signage.  The State or
17 county entity operating a public beach park shall submit to the
18 chairperson of the board of land and natural resources, a
19 comprehensive plan of signage to be posted warning of dangerous
20 natural conditions in the ocean adjacent to a public beach.  The
21 chairperson shall review the plan for adequacy of the warning as
22 well as the design and placement of the warning signs, devices,
23 and system.  The chairperson shall approve or amend each plan

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                                     S.B. NO.           621

 1 within ninety days of submission; provided that plans not
 2 approved by the chairperson within ninety days of submission
 3 shall be deemed approved.  Nothing in this section shall be
 4 construed to impose liability to the State or counties with
 5 respect to signage."
 6      SECTION 2.  Act 190, Session Laws of Hawaii 1996, is
 7 repealed.
 8      SECTION 3.  This Act shall take effect on June 30, 1999.
10                           INTRODUCED BY:  _______________________