Council considers saying ‘I do’ to wedding, commercial activity ban at Waimanalo beach parks

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The City Council is considering a ban on commercial activities, including weddings, along the Waimanalo shoreline.

Waimanalo activists support the ban, saying the weddings are almost constant. At Hunananiho ― or Sherwoods Beach ― around noon Thursday, there were two weddings at the same time.

In addition to the happy couples, the wedding parties included officiants, photographers and crews to set up flower displays.

It’s a day about love, but some Waimanalo residents call this commercial activity something else.

“It breaks my heart that this island is being taken advantage of,” said Mialisa Otis.

Otis says she’s no wedding crasher, but a protector of the aina. “Hunananiho is a sacred place. In the late 1960′s they found 92 remains,” she said.

She added that she sees three to five weddings in an hour.

“There’s happy hour in the morning and then there’s a happy hour in the afternoon,” said Otis.

“It’s an inundation,” she added.

Council Bill 38 introduced by area Councilwoman Esther Kiaaina would ban commercial activity and recreational stops by tour companies at Waimanalo Beach parks ― Makapuu, Kaupo, Kaiona, Waimanalo Beach Park, Hunananiho and Bellows Field Beach Park.

They’re already banned at Kailua and Kalama Beaches.

“That would be a real shame for our community to lose that access,” said Joseph Esser, president of the Oahu Wedding Association.

He says because of Oahu’s ban on large gatherings, the wedding industry has had enough pandemic heartache and economic loss.

“You can’t really have indoor weddings at this time and the outdoor places like our public beaches and parks and things are really a nice place to celebrate during COVID,” he said.

Esser says there are rogue wedding companies operating without permits who should be stopped, but says most follow the law and would be pushed elsewhere if banned from Waimanalo.

“This idea of banning beach weddings on Windward side is really kicking the can down the street to somebody else’s neighborhood. We really need to figure out how to enforce,” said Esser.

The bill passed first reading and is up for further discussion.

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