Kokua Line
June Watanabe

Law prohibits drinking
alcohol in Shell lot
before concerts

Question: We were at the Jimmy Buffett concert Tuesday night at the Waikiki Shell. There were an extreme number of people who were drunk. They were throwing up behind us while people in front of us were urinating on the ground. Everybody was pretty much drunk, which made for a very unpleasant evening. No wonder they were drunk. Before the concert started, beginning at about 1 p.m., people were drinking in the parking lot outside the Shell. Why does the city allow people to drink outside for hours before the concert starts? What is the law about people drinking in a city parking lot?

Answer: Drinking in the parking lot of the Waikiki Shell is not allowed, although it appears no one was warned it wasn't supposed to be Margaritaville there that night.

Chapter 40-1.2(a) of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu says "No person shall possess, other than in a container in the manufacturer's sealed condition, intoxicating liquor on any street or sidewalk, or in any public park, public playground, public school ground, public off-street parking area or any building located thereon" unless the liquor is bought from a vendor who has a permit or license from the city to be on the public premise (such as inside the Shell).

However, while police did respond to one "assault complaint at the concert itself," they did not receive any complaints about drinking in the parking lot prior to the concert, according to Maj. Thomas Nitta, of the Honolulu Police Department's Waikiki District.

Typically, HPD will monitor an event depending on any problems it anticipates and "how much heads up we have," he said.

But "actually we think it's the purview of the Shell or Enterprise Services because it is their event," Nitta said of the parking area.

Sidney Quintal, director of the city Department of Enterprise Services, which oversees the Waikiki Shell, apologized for any unpleasantness you had to endure.

He said his office also did not receive any complaints about excessive drinking problems inside or outside the Shell, although he acknowledged people were seen drinking in the lot.

However, he said his department's jurisdiction does not extend to the parking lot, other than seeking to reserve parking for dignitaries and the like.

Still, "from time to time," he said, Shell security will monitor what's happening in the adjacent lot. "At that point, if we notice anything odd, we will notify HPD."

Possibly because it was so crowded the night of the Buffett concert, Quintal said, "Our guys didn't see anything" of concern.

However, Tuesday's experience has shown that, for similar concerts in the future, "it behooves us to ... just do a better job of monitoring" parking lot activities as well as "notify HPD of significant events," he said.

Meanwhile, Quintal explained that the first concern is to make sure a promoter has adequate security for any concert.

"There was a lot of security inside the Shell" during the Buffett concert, he said, including the presence of state sheriff's deputies.

Quintal, who attended the concert, said he observed a few minor "disagreements," but did not see or hear of anything "major."

As usual, guards did checks of coolers and bottles of people entering the Shell, and "no one that I know of created a scene at the gate that would have prevented them from entering" that night, he said.

Once people get inside, the job of "our hired security and the promoter's hired security is to maintain civility," he said.

Unruly persons would be asked to leave and would be escorted out, he said. "If we had a problem we would call 911."

Q: What's the scoop on service fees for returned checks? I read Section 490:3-506.5 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, pertaining to charges for dishonored checks, that says the payee or holder of "any check, draft, or order for the payment of money" that has bounced because of a lack of funds "shall be allowed to assess the maker a reasonable service charge of not more than $20." But banks charge more than that, and sometimes each day that your account is overdrawn. What is the maximum a bank can charge you for an overdrawn check?

A: There is no maximum amount set by law that banks can assess.

Financial institutions are not bound by the part of Hawaii law that you cite, said Nick Griffin, the state commissioner of financial institutions.

That part of the Uniform Commercial Code deals with what collection agencies or retail merchants can charge you, which is a "reasonable" maximum fee of $20.

"There's nothing in the Hawaii Revised Statutes that limits the amount that the banks can charge," Griffin said.

When you decided to do business with a bank, you basically agreed to their various terms and policies, including for service fees. Financial institutions are required to send out periodic disclosures about their policies and fees.

If you feel your bank is charging too much, you are free to shop around to find one that might suit you better.


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