Protesters urge Blangiardi to veto bill banning commercial activity at windward Oʻahu beaches
Protesters gathered Tuesday in front of Honolulu Hale to protest a bill that would ban commercial activity at city-owned beaches in windward Oʻahu.
Bill 38 was introduced by Councilmember Esther Kiaʻāina in response to some Waimānalo residents who say beaches and roads are overcrowded with commercial activity.
The rally was organized by the Oʻahu Wedding Association, but wedding industry workers were not the only ones in attendance. The bill is controversial with professional photographers and videographers because the bill excludes movie and television crews.
Lauren Carson with Weddings of Hawaiʻi testified at an earlier city council meeting, "The message this bill is currently sending is that big business and Hollywood is more important to Hawaiʻi than our local hard-working families and locals who want to have special moments — and special moments captured at this beach."
Kiaʻāina says the film industry has a minimal impact on the community because shoots are rare and intermittent, while wedding events happen on windward beaches every week. The councilmember says her intent was to free up beach space to provide better access for locals.
"There are so many different options and different solutions for this problem. The community of Waimānalo has legitimate concerns," said Joseph Esser, president of the Oʻahu Wedding Association. "But if it's an issue of overcrowding or overuse, let's fix that."
Esser suggests limiting the number of permits or choosing specific days and times that beaches can be used for commercial activity. He says that's a better compromise than banning commercial activity entirely.
"This is very heavy-handed legislation that really would ban a huge swath of the entire windward coast," Esser said.
Bill 38 passed its third and final reading at the Honolulu City Council and awaits Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s decision.