HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city is holding a series of public meetings to create regulations for commercial activities at all of its parks. City attorneys decided that a new law aimed at businesses at Kailua beaches actually applies to commercial activities at nearly 300 Oahu parks. That means sports classes, wedding photography, and temporary food vendors are all technically illegal. Now the city is trying to come up with new rules and a permit system.
Before Bill 11 banned nearly all commercial activity at Kailua and Kalama Beach Parks, Bill 5 restricted the businesses on weekends. After the measure became law earlier this year, city lawyers found the measure actually has impacts across the island.
For Emily Boll, exercising outdoors beats being stuck in a gym. She founded Boot Camp Hawaii three years ago, offering classes at Ala Moana Beach Park. Now the small business owner will probably have to pay for a permit as the city creates new regulations for commercial activities at its 288 parks.
"I think it's fair and at the same time, it's kind of sad, too, just because we're used to just being here freely, running our commercial activity, enjoying the space," said Boll.
The city held its first public meeting on Monday night to discuss which activities should be allowed at parks from Ala Moana to Sandy Beach.
"Tennis is a lifetime sport so I hope through this whole process that we'll come to the conclusion that it should be allowed, but I do agree that maybe a fee should be collected from certified pros," said Kapolei resident Jenny Chang.
Events with temporary vendors like cultural festivals, surf meets, and AYSO soccer are also affected. The city's parks and recreation director said he didn't support Bill 5's wording and he warned the Honolulu City Council that the measure could affect the entire island.
"I really don't think that they thought it would stretch that far," said Gary Cabato.
"At no time were we told that Bill 5 or Bill 11 was going to have any bearing on whether or not these additional hearings and whether or not environmental impact statements would be required," said council member Ikaika Anderson.
Anderson said he does not believe that Bill 5 needs to be amended.
"The city had a long time to define what commercial activities were and to be able to enforce the law at the time. The city was unable to do either one. Due to the fact that this activity has been going on for so many years, the people needed relief. They came to us, they asked for relief, and the council acted accordingly," explained Anderson.
Cabato said with the public hearings and the environmental assessment process, it could take up to two years before the regulations and permit fees are in place. He admits without enforcement power, people will bend the rules, so he wants to make sure citations are issued for violations.
"That's why it's so important for me to deputize or to commission these park attendants or park rangers so they're strategically in different parks," said Cabato.
The remaining public hearings run from 5 to 7 p.m. at these locations:
September 18: Waialua District Park (all parks from Makapuu to Mokuleia)
September 19: Kaneohe District Park (all parks from Lanikai to Kaneohe)