QUESTION: I recently passed a container truck that had a political candidate’s name in large letters on the side. It was like a large moving campaign billboard. Is this legal? If one of the environmental groups says that the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile is a billboard, this is definitely more so.
ANSWER: We’ve seen at least two of these large mobile signs touting major gubernatorial candidates, which are not illegal under the state’s vehicular advertising law. Political ads are protected as free speech under the U.S. Constitution.
The Outdoor Circle, which pushed for Hawaii’s anti-billboard law in 1927, says the only restrictions on campaign signs are that they can’t be on public property and cannot create a safety hazard.
Section 445-112.5 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes says: "It is unlawful for any person to operate or park, or cause to be operated or parked, on any street, roadway or other public place, or on any private property that can be seen from any street, roadway or other public place, any vehicle or trailer carrying a vehicular advertising device for consideration or any other economic benefit if the vehicle or trailer is used primarily to display a vehicular advertising device."
The law is aimed at commercial advertising, but there’s a big loophole that allows many commercial signs to be placed on vehicles, said Bob Loy, The Outdoor Circle’s director of environmental programs.
The watchdog organization has "noticed a big increase over the past couple of years in the number of commercial signs placed on vehicles in an obvious effort to skirt the sign laws," he said. "Because the vehicular advertising law is so narrow, many businesses are finding that they can place signs on vehicles that would be illegal if posted just about anyplace else."
Basically, the law prohibits commercial advertising on vehicles if the primary purpose is to display advertising. The Outdoor Circle contended the Wienermobile’s sole purpose was just that, but the hotdog-shaped vehicle was not cited for any violations.
Meanwhile, Loy said that under the current law, a vehicle used "to pick up potatoes for the local BBQ restaurant can be legally parked near the street and draped with a big, ugly temporary banner and still be considered legal."
If that same banner were on the BBQ business’ building, it would be illegal, he said. Until the law is tightened, Loy predicted more business owners will take advantage of the loophole.
QUESTION: There are campaign signs in Kailua that are posted in the areas between the private property line and roadway. The signs are in the right-of-way and therefore public property, so aren’t they illegal?
ANSWER: Political signs are illegal in public areas.
Call The Outdoor Circle at 593-0300 and provide specific locations and the names of the candidates.
"We’ll call the campaigns and ask them to remove the signs," said Mary Steiner, the organization’s chief executive officer.
To a young man in his 20s, who lied to me and took my money. I had just parked at the Kapahulu Safeway when he asked if I had a gas can he could borrow. I told him no. He then said he had been on the island for five days and his rental car ran out of gas and if I could loan him money. He said he would repay me when he got his money, which was in his room at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. I gave him $10 and he never came back. I just want to warn other people. — Gullible Senior Citizen