Vetoed for now, a ban on kayaks and other biz at Kailua beach parks
Image: Bob Twogood

For a while, the elevens had it. On July 11, the Honolulu City Council voted 7-2 in favor of Bill 11 would have ended all commercial activity at Kailua and Kalama Beach Parks. Confusingly, this followed 11 days after a partial ban (Bill 5) took effect, barring commercial activity from 1 p.m. Saturdays to 6:30 a.m. Mondays. Bill 5 also restated the requirement that all commercial operations have legal permits.

On July 25, Mayor Carlisle volleyed back a veto of Bill 11. Now Councilman Ikaika Anderson is rallying his team to override it.

Both bills were originally drafted by Anderson in response to residents’ complaints of increased traffic and city beaches being overrun by businesses such as those that provide ocean-going equipment.

“Most of us in the industry saw this coming,” says Ryan Weed of Hawaii Beach Time, a company that provides beach rental equipment. “A total ban will hurt a lot of businesses, and not just those that operate in the beach parks, but also businesses in Kailua town that have noticed a huge growth in their business because of increased tourism to the area.”

Long-term resident Jim Fernie counterargues that “The bill doesn’t prohibit people from going to a shop to rent equipment. It’s not anti-tourism. It’s to stop the overwhelming mounds of people coming to the beaches, especially companies clogging the parking lots.” Fernie, who has been an advocate for the bill since its inception by requesting petition signatures from other residents, contrasts this with “ the old days, when Kailua was a quiet, peaceful beach. I would paddle to Flat Island to watch the shearwaters and there wouldn’t be anyone around.”

It may seem counterintuitive, but at least one business supports So, an outright ban of commercial activity. Egmar Klemmer, owner of Kailua Sailboards, says of Bill 11, “We are thinking long term and have to look at sustainability. Dumping off kayaks is not sustainable.” Kailua Sailboards rents equipment but does not deliver directly on the beach, so their operations would continue to be legal even with an override of the Mayor’s veto. Indeed, if some estimates that Kailua Sailboards rents the largest proportion of kayaks are true, it’s not clear that, should Bill 11 go into effect, a substantial decline in the number of kayaks will be seen.

Other residents see the ban as cutting too broad a sweep. “I see how the large tourist buses, and constant stream of kayak vendors in and out of the park negatively affect the beach and traffic flow around the park,” says Laura Crago, a long-time customer of the Stroller Strider exercise program at Kailua Beach. “Hopefully a balance can be made between the large commercial groups and the residents of Kailua.”

In terms of broad reach, Bill 5, currently in effect, requires a permit for any commercial activity in any and all city parks (with some exceptions), not just Kailua’s, “ even though the permitting structure is not in place, and could take one to two years, says Bob Twogood, president of Twogood Kayaks Hawaii. “An environmental impact assessment is required,” Twogood adds. “What we need is to put together a working group to address specific problems and find real solutions that are good for everyone in the community.”

The City Council will take up the bill August 15; six of nine votes are needed to override the Mayor’s veto.