Some residents on Oahu’s North Shore want to stop tour bus companies from dropping off passengers at beaches in the area.
The city already prevents commercial activity like that on the windward side, so is the North Shore next?
Honolulu City Councilman Ernie Martin, who represents the area, says not quite. He is hoping residents and tour bus operators can come up with a compromise, and a ban should be the last resort.
The North Shore Neighborhood Board unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday night that reads:
“The North Shore Neighborhood Board #27 requests that Council Chair Emeritus Ernie Martin and Council Vice-Chair Ikaika Anderson work together to implement regulations designed to ensure that tour buses do not limit in any way the publicʻs right to access public parks. Such regulations will be similar to those recently enacted at Kailua and Waimanalo parks.”
Area residents say the number of buses has increased dramatically over the years.
Richard Ames lives near Haleiwa Alii Beach Park. He says tour bus companies are parking where they aren’t supposed to, and he doesn’t want them operating on holidays and weekends.
“I have no problem with tourists. I would go to each one of these tourists and tell them, you know what, rent a car and come out here and spend the day out here, and go to all the places. It’s beautiful out here,” he said, but “in my kingdom, it would be nobody down here doing business in a public park.”
The co-owner of Countryside Adventure Tours tells us he has been in the industry for three decades. He says he drops off tourists in designated spots, and says they contribute to the economy by spending money in Haleiwa town.
“The attitude has changed from when I first got started. The aloha spirit was really alive then, but basically, we have noticed the aloha spirit has basically gone down the drain,” he said. “We are not trying to ruffle anyone’s feathers, but it’s just that when we are out here and they come out here yelling profanities at us, and we kind of look at them and smile. We just say aloha. We bite our tongue.”
Martin says if there was a ban, it would be similar to the one on the windward side. It would specify places where buses could not park, and/or not travel to altogether.
Kent Cotton, operations manager for Hawaii Turtle Tours, says he wants to work with the community, and thinks designated parking spots or permits for tour buses could be the solution.
“We can’t just drive around an island for five hours and say, ‘Sorry we can’t stop here. We can’t stop there,’ especially in some of the most scenic spots,” he said.