Bill to ban commercial activity at Kailua Beach advances, with conditions

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu City Council moved closer to banning commercial activity at Kailua Beach Park and Kalama Beach Park Wednesday, but it appears almost certain the proposed ban will be amended to allow some business to continue to operate in the park.
The council passed the second reading of Bill 11 by a unanimous 8-0 vote during its full council meeting at the the Pali Golf Course.  The bill now goes to the council's Committee on Parks and Cultural Affairs.  If it passes out of that committee, it will go back to the full council for a third and final reading (vote).
Councilman Ikaika Anderson, who represents Kailua, authored the bill after receiving numerous complaints about the proliferation of commercial ventures at Kailua Beach Park.  Anderson also wrote Bill 5 which prohibits commercial activity at Kailua Beach Park beginning Saturdays at 1 p.m. until 6 a.m. Mondays.  Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle signed Bill 5 and it goes into effect July 1, 2012.  Bill 11 would extend the prohibition on commercial activity throughout the week.
The majority of the almost 60 people who testified spoke in favor of Bill 11 Wednesday.  Most of them oppose tour buses making stops in the beach parks and believe the number of kayak rentals in Kailua needs to be curtailed.
"I support Bill 11 because of the kayaks at the Mokuluas.  (Mokulua Islands)  I feel they (the islands) are being overrun and over commercialized," said Kailua resident Tait Rusnak who supports the bill.
People who oppose the measure said it will have an unintended impact on other businesses.
Stroller Strides, for example, operates in the park.  It offers exercise programs for new mothers.  They walk their newborns through the park in strollers and stop in grassy areas to perform yoga exercises.  It is "fitness for mom and fun for baby."  That fun would be forced to move elsewhere if Bill 11 is adopted as written.
Aloha Rentals, a Kailua business for more than 45 years, provides tents, tables, and chairs for baby luaus, weddings, and funerals in the park.
"We've never had any problems with anyone, with the parks or police or the community," said Ricky Pestana, Aloha Rentals manager.  But if Bill 11 were to pass as written, Aloha Rentals would no longer be allowed to set up tents for people or have its trucks deliver chairs on park property.
Catering a family function at the park?  Sorry.  Bill 11 as written would not allow a catering company on park property.  Need a rental company to set up a bounce house for a child's birthday party?  Nope.  And forget that clown or magician.  They would not be allowed to come to the party either.  City law would prohibit them.
"The bill is not perfect.  I will admit that," Anderson said near the end of Wednesday's discussion on Bill 11.  And he said he is willing to make changes to tailor the bill to fit the communities needs and desires.
Three kayak rental companies that say Anderson's bill could put them out of business have given the city council a counter proposal to Bill 11.  Windward Watersports, Hawaiian Watersports, and Twogood Kayaks collaborated on the counter proposal.  It calls for the city to issue as many as four permits to water sports operators.  Those companies would be able to drop-off and pick-up kayaks at a designated spot on the mauka side of Kawailoa Road along Kaelepulu Stream.  They would be limited to operating just one kayak transport vehicle at a time and prohibited from being in the park for more than 20 minutes at a time.  The three companies propose fines of $150 for a first offense, escalating $500 for a third offense if caught violating the rules.
"We're letting people know we are willing to limit numbers, set up fines for ourselves and make this a sustainable solution for Kailua and not just ban everything," said Jeff Tobias, owner of Windward Watersports.
City Parks Director Gary Cabato told the council he is working on his own set of amendments to Bill 11.  His changes would allow as many as four kayak rental companies to acquire permits granting them access to the beach park.  He is also exploring possible permits for Stroller Strides and other companies that use the park without generating a flood of complaints.  Cabato told the council his permit plan would generate money for the city and that his own staff could serve as "park rangers" to enforce park rules.
Bill 11 will be discussed next during the Parks and Cultural Affairs Committee meeting later this month.

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