In a blow to the embattled wedding and tour industries, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi approved a measure Tuesday banning unregulated commercial activity at Windward beaches.
Long touted by residents as essential for defending neighborhoods from floods of wedding parties, photo shoots and tour buses, Bill 38 officially prohibits businesses from operating on the stretch of beach parks from Waimanalo to Makapuu.
In a recorded statement Tuesday, Blangiardi said he originally opposed restricting businesses from Waimanalo beaches as part of his general opposition of “government overregulation.” However, he changed his mind after seeing how the city’s previous 2012 ban on most commercial activity from Kailua beaches pushed businesses south.
“We can balance the rights of local residents, respect our natural resources and support our businesses if we work together on an island-wide solution,” Blangiardi said.
The measure, which took effect immediately, exempts commercial film productions from the ban, which drew protests from business operators complaining that restrictions were unfair.
“We are both disappointed and devastated by Mayor Blangiardi’s decision to sign Bill 38 into law,” Oahu Wedding Association president Joseph Esser said to Hawaii News Now. “This blanket ban overtly discriminates against local, small businesses that operate in public places, yet exempts big, mainland production studios at these same locations.”
The bill first passed the city council mid-March on a 7-2 vote, with Councilman Calvin Say and Councilwoman Andria Tupola voting no.