RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Chadd Hanashiro, part-owner of Waiau Fish Market at Stadium Mall, cut some ahi yesterday as he expressed concerns about the proposed alcohol ban. He said he feared that his business would be directly affected by the planned ban at the stadium's parking lot before University of Hawaii football games. The market has been at the location for 24 years.
Ban on drinking at stadium delayed
The stadium board failed to give public notice before a vote
A new vote means a ban would take effect after UH football ends
The Stadium Authority violated the state "Sunshine Law" when it voted last month to proceed with a ban on drinking alcohol in the stadium parking lot, according to the state Office of Information Practices.
As a result, the authority will have to vote again on the ban at its next public meeting on Oct. 27, and the earliest that a parking lot alcohol ban could take effect would be in mid-December, after the last University of Hawaii home game, on Dec. 3 against San Diego State.
In a letter yesterday to Stadium Authority Chairman Kevin Chong Kee, OIP Director Les Kondo said that even though the public will get a chance to testify at a public hearing to adopt the rules, "the public also has the right to testify prior to the board's decision to recommend that the administrative rules be amended."
The Oct. 27 public meeting will also allow small businesses to testify, and if it is determined that the rule change will have a significant impact on small business, that could trigger more public hearings before the Small Business Regulatory Review Board and another delay in adopting the alcohol ban.
The state administration had been trying to fast-track the alcohol ban, which was spearheaded by Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona. Aiona has said that he wants to see the ban in place before the end of the football season.
State Comptroller Russ Saito said the alcohol ban rules had been drafted and were headed for the Governor's Office for approval, possibly by today, to schedule a public hearing on the rule change next month.
However, yesterday's OIP letter concluded, "the board's decision to recommend banning alcohol in the stadium parking lot should be considered null and void, and any action that is being undertaken based on the board's decision should likewise be halted."
Saito and Chong Kee said they relied on advice from the state attorney general's office in taking the vote last month and do not necessarily agree with the OIP opinion. However, to be safe, the Stadium Authority will vote again on Oct. 27.
"We'll cover all our bases and we'll be fair with everybody," said Chong Kee. "We don't want to take any short cuts to get to where we want to be."
The Star-Bulletin first reported in August that Aiona and UH interim President David McClain were discussing an alcohol ban at the stadium during UH football games.
At the time, there were financial concerns about breaking the contract with the stadium vendor Center Plate, which has the right to sell beer in the stadium until 2011.
When the Stadium Authority met on Aug. 25, the board formed a task force of three authority members, which under the open-meetings law can meet without public notice, to investigate the matter and make recommendations.
The recommendations of the task force -- to ban alcohol in the parking lot but not in the stadium -- were presented and accepted by the board at its Sept. 29 meeting.
However, the OIP said the Sunshine Law specifically bans the board from acting on a task force recommendation at the same meeting that the task force presents its findings. The decision came a few days after the Star-Bulletin raised the issue of a possible open-meetings law violation with the OIP.
It takes at least 50 days for a rule change to go through the public hearing and review process. So if the recommendation to go to public hearing on the alcohol ban is adopted by the stadium authority on Oct. 27, the earliest a ban can take effect would be Dec. 16.
But that is assuming there are no significant changes to the rules after a public hearing, no legal problems and no small-business impact.
Saito said because alcohol is not sold in the stadium parking lot, there should be no small-business impact.
Businesses near the stadium disagree.
"A lot of them (UH fans) come in. They buy poke and food and then they tailgate," said Chad Hanashiro, part-owner of Waiau Fish Market in the Stadium Mall shopping center, across the street from Aloha Stadium. Hanashiro said his business increases 50 percent on football Saturdays.
"All these guys around here, Fastop next door, Mark's Drive-Inn, they would all get affected. People order party platters from them, chicken katsu, barbecue chicken. I think it would have a big impact on these small businesses," Hanashiro said.
Lynne Woods, chairwoman of the Small Business Regulatory Review Board, said she still has to review the rule change, but her initial impression is that there will not be a significant small-business impact and the Lingle-appointed board is not likely to take a position on banning alcohol in the parking lot.
Woods believes small businesses inside the stadium will benefit from a ban on alcohol sales in the parking lot because fans will spend more time inside the stadium.
James Von Rohr, owner of Poke-2-Go, a business that has a contract to sell poke inside Aloha Stadium, said he is opposed to banning alcohol sales in the stadium during UH games. But he is not sure how his business will be affected if drinking is banned in the parking lot.
A bigger factor than beer and tailgating, he said, is whether UH wins games.
"If they have an undefeated season, it won't matter if they can drink in the parking lot," Von Rohr said.