Bill to restrict commercial activities now a flash point for wed - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Bill to restrict commercial activities now a flash point for wedding photographers

WAIMANALO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Waimanalo has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and a lot of people go there to have a wedding. But a bill before the Honolulu City Council could put a halt to that.

Statistics show that Hawaii is the second most popular destination for a wedding, behind Las Vegas. And that popularity has some Waimanalo residents upset.

"We have city lifeguards who have shared with me instances where you'll have a wedding operation in place, a wedding director will ask families to move out of the way so that setting up of chairs and arches can happen," said Honolulu city councilman Ikaika Anderson.

Anderson has introduced Bill 8, which would restrict commercial activities in an area from Lanikai to Makapuu. The proposal mainly targets tour buses and limousines, which residents complain are clogging their neighborhoods and parking lots. But an amendment also would completely ban professional wedding photographers from Waimanalo Beach and Waimanalo Bay parks.

"If we're not allowed to photograph professionally here, then we're not going to be ale to have weddings at all on Waimanalo Beach," said Jeanne Viggiano, a professional photographer who has snapped thousands of wedding photos in the area in the past eight years.

Viggiano has to get permits from the city and the state to do that.

"Wedding officiants and coordinators and those types of people aren't required to obtain a permit for county parks," said Viggiano. "So we believe that's probably the reason why we're being targeted."

"The State Department of Land and Natural Resources awards the permit for weddings on the beach, but folks at the city could regulate wedding photography," said Anderson. "So we threw that out there as a possible amendment for discussion."

The amendment has become a flash point for photographers. Some wedding vendors said the bill could have an even larger impact.

"You can't have a professional photographer at your baby's birthday party," said Karen Russ of Weddings of Hawaii, about other events at the beach. "You can't take a graduation picture. You can't take a Christmas card. You can't do anything that would require having a professional photographer there."

Russ and Viggiano also said if the bill becomes law, it could damage Oahu's reputation as a place for destination weddings.

"The economic impact is greater than just myself," said Viggiano. "It trickles down to planners and videographers, hotel rooms being emptied."

The bill has its next hearing before a city council committee on Nov. 19.

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