HONOLULU (KHON2) — The City said it is in the process of hiring four park rangers to deter unauthorized commercial activity at City parks, but the department is still trying to determine how much enforcement power these new rangers will have. 

From yoga at the park to surfing lessons, these are just some of the commercial activities City officials said many vendors carry out without the proper permits. 

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The Honolulu Parks and Recreation Director Laura Thielen said the new division will include four park rangers and one manager during a City Council briefing last week. 

Thielen said, “We are going to be focusing on the commercial, the unauthorized commercial activities that are taking place, that tends to concentrate in beach parks because most of these businesses are selling services to tourists.” 

Thielen said the parks department and the City are working out the role and authority of the park rangers. 

“What we will be doing over those two years is assessing, one, whether the City should put enforcement powers in the department of parks and recreation; and I think we are all leaning to the answer that is yes,” Thielen said. “But, then, what enforcement powers would go to parks?”  

One surf instructor in Waikiki told KHON2 News that they technically do not conduct commercial activities at parks, and all their transactions are done online. They had no idea how exactly the focus on commercial activity would impact them. 

Currently, it is the Honolulu Police Department’s jurisdiction to enforce City park rules. Under the City’s rules and regulations, “commercial activity” is defined as a purpose designed for profit, including exchange or buying and selling commodities or providing services. 

Trevor Rollins said he enjoys the City parks and its facilities, he said the presence of rangers could deter unwanted activity. 

Rollins said, “Supervision doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be enforcement. It could just be a visual, you know, like, walking around making sure people are safe and they feel comfortable.”

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The City’s park ranger assessment project is set to go on for two years, and part of the work will include identifying hotspots for unauthorized commercial activities. It will also review and revise department rules and share recommendations with the City.