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When Honolulu prohibited tour company vans from stopping at most Waimanalo beach parks earlier this year, the one exception was Waimanalo Bay Beach Park.
Now City Council Chair Ron Menor has proposed Bill 93 to tighten the restrictions at that facility by establishing monthly permit fees for tour vehicles, with the resulting revenue being used to monitor the tour company activities in the park.
The permits allow the companies to stop at Waimanalo Bay Beach Park from 6:30 p.m. Friday through 6:30 a.m. Monday, and on all state and federal holidays. The vehicles can carry up to 15 passengers.
The proposed monthly fees would be $165 per vehicle, up to a maximum of five.
The bill passed a first reading of the full City Council on Nov. 1 and was referred to the council budget committee, which is scheduled to hold a hearing on it Wednesday.
“All of the tour companies and tour buses crowd out the people that come from the community,” said Kalanai Kalima, a member of Na Kua’aina o Waimanalo, a neighborhood watchdog group.
But he’s happy about the prospects of Bill 93 passing, because it might ease the burden on community members who monitor activities and report illegal stops made by tour company vans.
“It’s great that they’re going to utilize the fees to pay for the manpower to follow the regulations,” Kalima said. “That takes the policing out of the community hands.”
Most beach parks in Waimanalo are owned by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and leased to the city to manage. But Waimanalo Bay Beach Park is city-owned and operated.
The proposed permit fees follow up on Ordinance 17-3, which was adopted earlier this year. It prohibits recreational stops by commercial tour companies at Waimanalo Beach Park, as well as Kaiona, Kaupo, Makapuu and Bellows beach parks.
“It’s holding the city accountable for the agreement between DHHL and crown land,” Kalima said.
The ordinance required the Department of Parks and Recreation to introduce fees for making recreational stops at Waimanalo Bay Beach Park, which it has done in the proposal introduced by Menor.
A recreational stop refers to “the use of city beach parks by commercial tour companies for activities that may include, but are not limited to, sightseeing, spectating, picture taking, beach combing, swimming guided tours, and eating of prepared picnic lunches,” according to the Revised Ordinances of the City and County of Honolulu of 1990.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration opposed the original bill prohibiting the tour companies from stopping at the other Waimanalo beach parks. Caldwell left the bill unsigned, meaning it still became law.
Caldwell stated in a letter to Menor, who introduced the bill, that the responsibility of issuing permits is “not legislative but executive in nature … that being the Department of Parks and Recreation.”
Now, however, “the Department of Parks and Recreation plans on hiring part-time staff to help spot-check vehicles to see if they have permits at Waimanalo Bay Beach Park. Therefore, funds will go toward staffing,” said Andrew Pereira, public information officer for the mayor.