Monday, January 04, 2016


Tourists cited again for being on Waikiki beach at night? A Tale of Two (other) Cities

by Larry Geller

Ian Lind received an email from a Canadian tourist couple reporting that they had been cited for being on the beach at night (when it is closed) in the middle of December. See: Visitors still being arrested for enjoying moonlight on Waikiki Beach (, 1/2/2014). The citing of tourists first hit the news around last May. Reportedly, fully seven percent of citations issued up to the time of the report were issued to tourists.

Visitors are thrust into a bad situation if they are cited and have to return home, because missing a court date has consequences—certainly if they ever return to Hawaii, but maybe worse than that.

Now, should police give tourists a pass on obeying the law? Probably not. It is the law that is the problem, IMHO, and it should be fixed.

A Tale of Two (other) Cities

City 1: on Victoria Island, BC

Back in the 1990’s we visited Victoria Island, British Columbia. It is an incredibly beautiful place. We parked at a meter to visit a well-known shop, but got distracted and didn’t pay attention to the time. When I realized the meter had expired, I actually ran the few blocks to where the car was parked, only to find a policeman still there and the dreaded white slip of paper under the windshield wiper of our rental car.

I began to apologize profusely for being late. He interrupted by taking the paper from the windshield and handing it to me—I can’t remember the wording, but it was basically a note saying that they take these regulations seriously in British Columbia and also respect that tourists may not be familiar with them, so please do not do this again. That wasn’t the wording, but it was very polite, respectful, and more than fair. The police officer explained that next time I wouldn’t necessarily get a similar warning, but he was so polite about it that we were impressed.

City 2: Asheville, NC

My wife, visiting family in Asheville, had parked at a meter without feeding it and hung up her handicapped placard the way it’s done in Honolulu. Unfortunately, as it turned out, Asheville does not provide free street parking at metered locations.

Instead of a ticket, she later found a polite official note explaining the regulations on the windshield.

Where is our “aloha spirit”?

Perhaps it’s time to put our city and state leaders on the psychiatrists couch. What happened to their basic sense of decency and empathy?

Maybe they don’t care because tourists are apparently arriving in record numbers. Who cares about a few who run into trouble.

That would be part of a pattern. Perhaps they don’t care about homeless or low-income people because their campaign war chests have been filled to the brim by developers who prefer building lucrative luxury housing to providing low-income rentals. But last I noticed, our elected leaders still appeared to walk like human beings even if they no longer talk that way.

The trouble is, tourism is volatile. Bad press can likely cause problems down the line. Just as tourists queue up in large numbers for the fried green tomatoes at the KCC Farmers Market each and every Saturday (shameless plug), because, of course, they have read about it in the Japanese tourist magazines back home, a series of negative articles could also spread like dengue fever if repeated in their magazines.

So citing tourists for being on the beaches could contribute to trouble down the line. The problem should be fixed.

Notice that I am not appealing to their better nature, to their sense of empathy for people put in a very difficult situation. That’s because they may not have a better nature, sad to say, than has been recently displayed. So it’s necessary to make an economic argument, even if it is a little weak.


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