Honolulu Star-Bulletin - Kokua Line

Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Thursday, May 27, 1999

Solicitations at state
parks a gray area

Question: I had taken a couple of guests to Diamond Head to hike on a recent Saturday. Up at the top was a person dressed like a park ranger soliciting anybody up there with a speech about taking them on other hikes. He signed them all up, taking their names and hotel numbers. I asked who he represented and he said he represented hikers of Oahu or something like that. I said, "Is this allowed?" And he said, "Yes, because we don't ask for money." But he does afterward, ask for donations. I think this is soliciting at a public park. He says the money goes to cleaning up the parks, but these parks are cleaned by government in the first place. Can somebody check on this?

Answer: Because this involves Diamond Head Crater, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources is responsible for enforcing rules and regulations in the crater.

"It's a very thin line between a First Amendment issue and people engaged in disguised sales," said Gary Moniz, head of the Conservation and Resources Enforcement Division. "We have been working with vendors and explaining the laws."

He noted that some vendors have been charged for violating the law, a petty misdemeanor. Anyone who witnesses what they believe to be a commercial activity taking place in any state park should call his division, 587-0077, providing as much detail as possible, Moniz said.

Under present rules allowing vendors in Diamond Head Crater, only one permit every two weeks is issued for a vendor to set up a table and sell literature. However, anyone -- without a permit -- can move freely about the park to peddle literature that has some kind of religious, political, philosophical or ideological message.

People can offer a service or merchandise, but they cannot collect money for it on state property, whether a prepaid fee or a donation, said state parks Administrator Ralston Nagata.

Also, as long as the person is not saying he is a state employee, there is nothing that says he can't dress up in costume, Nagata said.

You may suspect someone is doing something "over the line," he added, but proving it is not that simple.

"We've given notice to the hotel industry, tour companies," to warn visitors about solicitations, Moniz said. "We've posted a number of signs in the (Diamond Head) park saying that commercial activity in the park is prohibited and you are not obligated to pay for anything."

Still, his office receives many complaints, mainly from tourists, who say "they end up not getting" what they gave a "donation" for, Moniz said.


Please warn your readers about a guy who's been coming around Manoa in a white truck, offering to rebuild driveways. While he's talking to you, his workers start digging up the driveway. I think old people might feel obligated to pay. -- No name

(The Honolulu Police Department has received one complaint about the man and his tactics. It was the first of its kind, said HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu. Officers will look into it, she said.)


To the angel who returned my purse. It was not the purse, money or pager, but the irreplaceable memories contained on the undeveloped roll of film that mattered. It's heartwarming to know there are a lot of good things going on in the world today. I feel like I've been touched by an angel. -- Laurie

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Email to kokualine@starbulletin.com

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