City & County of Honolulu

City presses on
with beach fests

Officials and Council members
disagree over a proviso's intent

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

Continuing the Sunset on the Beach program weekly through July does not run contrary to a City Council budget proviso that says it should run " on a monthly basis" beginning July 1, a city official says.

But at least one Council member said he and his colleagues should consider taking Mayor Jeremy Harris to court for ignoring the instructions of the City Council.

Mayor Jeremy Harris' spokeswoman, Carol Costa, confirmed that the Sunset program will take place at Kuhio Beach on each of the remaining weekends this month as noted on a city Web page.

"They are planned for July and for the summer period when families and kids are there, the ones who especially enjoy the program," Costa said. "This is an economic stimulus program that has worked to bring local families back to Waikiki in the thousands."

Costa said, however, she does not know how many times the event will be held in August or other months except that there may be some "rainy" months in the coming year when it may not be held at all.

Costa said she does not know if there will be more than 12 weekends of Sunset during 12 months but believes the city can do so.

"That may happen, if we stay within the budget, and if we bring in private sector funding," Costa said.

Specifically, the budget proviso language said funding would be restored for: "Sunset and Brunch on the Beach programs on a monthly basis provided additional private sector funding is sought."

Costa said the intent of the Council proviso is being kept. "The Council proviso clearly indicates that to continue the program, we need to secure private financing."

The administration has done that, in part, by raising the fee for food vendors to $700 a weekend from $500 a weekend, and by adding craft vendors to the lineup, Costa said.

The city also is hoping to gain more private sponsors, such as Sprint Hawaii, which in recent months has sponsored live entertainment for Sunset, she said.

Councilman Duke Bainum said the Council may have to sue to compel the administration to comply with its instructions.

"I guess you've got to go to court to get the Harris administration's attention," he said. And while "that's a waste of taxpayers' money," he said, "that's the only alternative."

The Waikiki councilman said he introduced the proviso as compromise to salvage a $300,000 appropriation for the program.

"The administration continues to try to justify ignoring the ordinance while the ordinance is very plain -- once a month," Bainum said.

The program is popular and legitimate, but not the highest priority for Council members during a lean budget year, he said.

Council Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi, who is also unhappy with the administration's actions, said the Council needs to consider a lawsuit. "We'd have to pay for it and I don't know if my colleagues are willing to do that," she said.

Councilman Gary Okino was also unhappy. "We clearly said once a month," he said. "They made a big deal about not having enough money and all that, but this seems to go against that."

City & County of Honolulu

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