City promises to watch for park rule-breakers


POSTED: Tuesday, September 29, 2009

QUESTION: When I got a picnic permit for Queen's Surf beach, I was given the rules, including no tents and large inflatables (bounce houses) allowed on the beach side of Kapiolani Park. But about 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30, I saw a blue tent and huge inflatable water slide set up in front of the Waikiki Natatorium. People were openly filling their cups from a large beer keg. I thought that alcohol was not allowed in public parks. How did they get permission to have the inflatable set up in front of the Natatorium? They even had a long extension cord going into the Natatorium to some electrical source. It's unfair they received privileges that others do not.

ANSWER: None of the “;privileges”; was authorized.

Because of your complaint and subsequent “;mini investigation,”; staff have been directed to “;do a little more diligence to make sure people don't set up bouncers”; on the makai side of Kapiolani Park, said Lester Chang, director of the city Department of Parks and Recreation.

While large groups (50 or more) are required to get a permit and are informed of park rules, he acknowledged that smaller groups don't go through the permit process and may not be aware of the prohibitions.

Chang said workers observed about 25 people at the gathering, which means they did not need a permit.

In this case, the people on duty were groundskeepers, not parks staff, who were not aware of all the rules and prohibitions, Chang said.

As for why police did not enforce the no-inflatables rule, he said police typically won't get involved in monitoring park rules unless they receive a direct complaint.

However, they were called when groundskeepers saw that the group had hooked up to a water fountain. The group initially complied when asked to disconnect its hookup, but then did it again. At that point, Chang said, police were called.

Regarding the electrical connection, he said someone apparently jumped the fence to get inside the Natatorium. “;We should have stopped it (electrical power) then,”; Chang said, but the groundskeepers did not have access to the power source.

The electrical power inside the Natatorium now is turned off and turned on only as needed by staff, he said.

Regarding the beer, “;At no time did staff observe alcohol consumption. ... I'm not saying there was no alcohol, but we did not see it and assume HPD did not see it either because I know they wouldn't tolerate it there,”; Chang said. He added there is a “;concealment aspect”; to these situations and parks workers “;don't go checking on what (park users) do.”;

Chang noted that there are “;many, many activities going on in the park”; seven days a week and there's just not enough staff to keep track of everything.

He also said it's not feasible to “;go posting signs all over every park”; noting all the rules and regulations, but that there would be more effort to keep an eye on the inflatables.

An Apology

To the driver of an SUV who would not allow me to merge on the H-1 freeway, Koko Head-bound, near the Punahou offramp around 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20. You had the right of way but I was hoping you would show some aloha and let me merge. In frustration and tiredness, I didn't help matters by leaning on the horn. I will be sure to show more aloha next time.— No Name