Waimānalo residents and wedding industry workers clash over City Council bill

A bill that would ban commercial activities at Windward Oʻahu beaches except for professional film production awaits Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s signature.

The controversial bill saw Waimānalo residents and wedding industry workers testifying for hours at Wednesday’s Honolulu City Council meeting.

The bill prohibits most commercial business at public beaches such as Waiamānalo, Makapuʻu and Hūnānāniho — which some refer to as Sherwoods.

Although Bill 38 does not explicitly single out the wedding industry, many who opposed the bill were marriage officiants and wedding photographers.

They were particularly upset because the bill excludes movie and television crews from the prohibition.

Lauren Carson who works with Weddings of Hawaiʻi testified, “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.”

Councilmember Esther Kiaʻāina, who represents much of Windward Oʻahu, introduced the bill. She says her intent was to free up beach space to provide better access for locals.

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.

“One provision of this bill, which is gonna be very helpful, is [that] you cannot go down to Waimānalo without seeing limos all over the neighborhood including in the parks,” Kiaʻāina said.

“This bill would prohibit anyone who’s engaged in commercial activities, including those regulated by the P.U.C., including both vehicles and taxis, from entering any city-managed parks. I’m doing the best that I can to respond to community concerns,” Kiaʻāina said at the City Council meeting.

Although Bill 38 passed in a 7-2 vote, it will be difficult to enforce. Park rangers under the Department of Parks and Recreation do not have the authority to enforce criminal law.

However, the bill shows the Honolulu City Council’s intent, and raises the possibility of island-wide and state-wide enforcement of commercial activities at public parks.