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'Still too much': community input stalls bill allowing commercial activity at parks

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The Honolulu City Council’s parks committee held a second discussion on Bill 19, which aims to create a uniform set of rules for all parks on the island.

That includes allowing businesses, such as tour companies, to operate in a limited capacity at both Windward Oʻahu and North Shore beach parks, where they are currently banned.

Parks director Laura Thielen suggested businesses only operate at parks with restrooms and sufficient parking.

Thielen presented an internal spreadsheet and public map of the city's 68 shoreline parks at Wednesday's meeting. The map shows the number of parking stalls, comfort stations and the park's size.

The map highlights areas that could accommodate the city's proposal of having a limit of three tour buses visiting a park at one time, with a cap of 10 buses a day.

"Are we really reduced to a spreadsheet?" asked Ann, a Laʻie resident, at Wednesday's meeting.

"What you're proposing is still too much. You're not addressing the impact of 250 tourists a day that come to Kokololio. We have buses that stay there for an hour and a half because they swim for an hour," she said.

Leeward Oʻahu councilmember Andria Tupola said it might be easier if the bill identified parks that would be affected.

"If we have that as the list, then we're actually talking about specific beach parks and not in the ambiguity of, well maybe this, maybe that. I think that's really what's in angering people," Tupola said.

Tupola said she would prefer the bill be driven by community input, rather than by the department.

"We bring it back and then we can get into a better space with this,"

For now, Bill 19 remains in committee for further discussion.

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at charlow@hawaiipublicradio.org or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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