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Honolulu Looks to Mitigate Tourism’s Effects on Parks

Andy Berg

The city of Honolulu on the island of Oahu is hoping to mitigate the pressure put on its local beach parks by large guided tour groups that regularly flood the otherwise peaceful spots.

Honolulu is looking at ways to better regulate tour companies that drop tourists off at parks for sightseeing, spectating, picture-taking, beachcombing and swimming.

In spite of the tremendous growth of tourism in the islands, the rules have not been amended since 1984, according the Honolulu Civil Beat.

The proposed rules would toughen permit requirements for tour vehicles that drop tourists at beach parks, capping the number of permits to five a month per park district (there are five islandwide), limiting recreational stops to 90 minutes, identifying beach parks where recreational stops are to be prohibited, setting out reasons for denial or revocation of a permit and setting up related penalties.

The new rules — four times longer than the original and much more detailed — build on the existing rules and wisely keep many good provisions in place:

  • Cooking or preparation of food, buffet or serving lines and any catering service at a beach park during a recreational stop will still not be allowed.
  • Prepared lunches such as bentos, however, are allowed, though the entities issued permits will be responsible for trash pickup and removal.
  • Picnic sites and tables will not be allowed, nor advertising, soliciting or selling.
  • While the original rules applied daily “between the hours from sunrise to sunset,” the proposed rules are for Mondays through Fridays and holidays from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. — no weekends.
  • Permits would only be issued to licensed motor carriers with insurance coverage and valid certificates of public convenience and necessity.
  • No more than three vehicles with permits for recreational stops may be parked in a beach park at the same time.
  • If necessary, a beach park may be closed for protection, restoration and safety.
  • The proposed rules also make clear the penalty for violating them: a fine up to $500, or imprisonment up to 30 days, or both.

Honolulu has allocated an annual operating budget for Parks and Recreation of $80 million, which covers nearly 5,000 acres of land. The facilities include dog parks, swimming pools and botanical gardens.

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