Aerial ad fight escalates as Mayor asks people to report banners to 911
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Keep your eyes on the skies over Diamond Head because we're told the aerial banners company will be flying a marriage proposal there around sunset. While the bride to be might say yes the City is saying a resounding no to aerial advertising. Aerial Banners Inc. sends messages via plane. The Mayor is making his point via press conference.
"Send a clear message to anyone who may be even thinking about doing this in the future, you're going to face the full extent. You're going to have the Chief of Police and the Prosecutor on your butt," said Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu Mayor.
It is the first time the three officials have stood their ground together on an issue, thus elevating the fight over aerial advertising.
"It's the exact wrong thing to do for a new company coming into our community not to do it in a way that is respectful and humble and asking can we come in we want to follow the laws, it's more 'I don't care," said Mayor Caldwell, as he punched his hand.
"You can snub your nose at the City, and the Mayor and the Prosecutor but you can't snub your nose at the courts," said Keith Kaneshiro, Prosecutor for the City & County of Honolulu.
"Scared isn't the right word. This is an issue that needs to be resolved. There is a difference of opinions. We believe we are on the right side of the law. Obviously they have their own opinion," said Michael McAllister, attorney for Aerial Banners Inc.
Aerial Banners says it has a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration and claims changes to federal rules trump local and state laws. They also believe it is a free speech issue.
"Corporate speech is also protected by the First Amendment. People do have a right to get their message out. There should not be any content discrimination in Hawaii either," said McAllister. "Honolulu is not a sign free place. There are a lot of political signs. There are signs on sides of buildings and more importantly there are advertising signs on the sides of trucks. You can go anywhere in Honolulu and see this. So the impact is minimal.
There is almost no difference between what Aerial Banners North is doing and what is already being done in Honolulu."
"It is not freedom of speech, it is not a violation of equal protection. The airspace is a nonpublic forum," said Kaneshiro.
When asked to clarify, Ian Gregor with the FAA emailed this response.
"Aerial Banner North's waiver allows it to operate throughout the U.S. The waiver also states, "This certificate of waiver does not waive any state law or local ordinance. Should the proposed operations conflict with any state law or local ordinance or require permission of local authorities or property owners, it is the operator's responsibility to resolve the matter"."
Aerial Banners is capable of flying day and night. Complaints may come in around the clock as well until the fight is resolved.
"At this time Aerial Banners North is flying lawfully and it will continue to fly," said McAllister. "There is absolutely no harm. Aerial banners are actually a public service."
"Many of us in Hawaii have seen this before, people coming from the mainland, disregarding the laws, disregarding the views of the people, telling us what is right and what is wrong," said Mayor Caldwell. "We're not going to allow a company coming from the mainland to say we're going to do what we want, we're going to interpret the law how we want, and we're going to blight the natural beauty."
It will likely take a judge to order the company to stop flying. There is a court date scheduled for August 5. Until then they'll be up the air and the Mayor is asking people to call 911 if you see the banners so police can go cite the pilot. They also want people to call in the location where the plane is picking up and dropping off the banner.