While Trevor Ozawa and Tommy Waters do battle in a special election for the District 4 seat on the Honolulu City Council, the person temporarily filling that seat is on the job.
Earlier this month, interim Councilman Michael Formby introduced Bill 8, which would place further restrictions on parades and block parties in Waikiki. It’s a measured response to the plethora of complaints from Waikiki businesses and residents to the festivals that close down large stretches of Kalakaua Avenue, hindering traffic.
Long-established “legacy” events like the Honolulu Festival would not be affected. Nonlegacy events, which may get permits through a lottery, would shrink from 15 to 12. The mayor’s allowance for up to 10 waivers would drop to no more than six.
That’s a reasonable change. But critics also have complained that some of these events are just business ventures that do not serve a “public purpose,” as the law requires. Rather, they pay nothing to set up shop next to businesses that pay a hefty premium to operate in one of the richest stretches of retail real estate in Hawaii.
What qualifies as a “public purpose” is open to broad interpretation. Bill 8 attempts to narrow it down. It would require festival organizers to explain how their events met the requirement that any private benefit was incidental to the “benefit arising out of the parade or activity to the community as a whole.”
If they can’t explain themselves to the satisfaction of the city, future permits could be denied. That seems fair.