City holds public hearing to rein in non-profit peddlers
The Friends of Hanauma Bay said they see the same vendors selling the same kind of stuff,every day, breaking the condition of their permits in the process.
"They are supposed to be selling merchandise with message-bearing information about their organization, and they have not been doing that for years, and it's not enforced," said Lisa Bishop who is with the Friends of Hanauma Bay.
As KITV showed you earlier this week, vendors who are provided space in city parks under the name of free speech,
didn't know and didn't seem to care that "Protect The Oceans" printed on their t-shirts had nothing to do with their mission.
"Message here, said the woman manning the table. "No, what does that have to do with your mission?, we asked,
She shrugged her shoulders,as she answered, "I don't know."
Some believe selling items that go against the mission of the marine preserve is just plain wrong.
"Sometimes they sell underwater cameras, snorkeling equipment and reef walker booties, which doesn't make sense at a nature preserve. You don't want to encourage reef walker booties to go down to the beach level, because it encourages people to walk on the reef," said Bishop.
Bishop turned out at a public hearing to support the intent of changing rules so they can be easier to enforce.
The group would prefer no sales at all, rather than see the vendors do what they please with little, or no oversight.
The city proposes changing the rules so it can seize merchandise if the vendors don't comply.
"Apparently, there is a lack of will to enforce the rules and regulations," said Bishop of the situation that exists now.
State lawmaker Cynthia Thielen supports the no sale idea.
She worries the proposed rules would only encourage more legal challenges and is calling on the city to reconsider its plan.
"The rules don't require liability insurance from these vendors who are in the parks. That puts the taxpayers at risk. It's a big void and should be included," Thielen said.
Commercialism is a sensitive issue at Kailua Beach Park where resident Lisa Cates was surprised to see the vendors pop up.
Cates did some digging and was surprised at what she found about who holds the permits," said Cates.
"The majority of them were under one person and we have an individual monopolizing the permits an using a number different parks,"
These vendors at Hanauma directed our questions to Dipak Sarkar of a Waialua address, who has yet to return our calls.
The Friends of Hanauman Bay believe the situation just can't go on as it has.
They point out it's not fair to the four other commercial vendors who compete for space at the popular attraction.
"The are people who pay rent to the city, and they follow and abide by the rules in their contract," said Bishop.
None of the vendors who hold permits in the parks turned out for Wednesday's hearings. The public will have more five days to submit written testimony, after that it will be up to the parks director and the mayor to decide what to do next.