Bus Billboards Defeated, for now
Thanks to a major turn-out from all four TOC branches on O‘ahu, Mayor Caldwell’s proposal to sell advertising on the outside of city buses was deferred by the Budget Committee. Congratulations on a job well done!
This may, however, be only a temporary reprieve from the blight of bus billboards. We need to be prepared that Bill 69 might come before this Committee again in March. In preparation for that, we should:
1. Celebrate our victory!
Thank you to everyone who gave so much of their time and resources to make this campaign a success. Thank you to Kathy for chairing the working group, Martin for all of the advice and the very effective signs at the hearing, Barbara, Jeremy, Linda, John, Susan, Martin, and Kathy for meeting with Council members, Susan and Jeremy for the petition, Diane and Steve for reaching out to our allies, Leigh for contacting our Neighborhood Boards, to the 20+ people who testified in opposition to the bill today, and to all of the many wonderful letters to the editor that were submitted over the last month. All that work culminated in this victory. Mahalo nui loa!
2. Thank the Budget Committee & Council Chair
Please take a moment to draft a short thank you note to the members of the budget committee that supported us and especially Council Chair Ernie Martin. Below is a list of how the committee members voted. Here are their email addresses: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Chair Martin did not have to attend this committee meeting and speak so eloquently on the challenges with the city budget and against the passage of Bill 69. But he did and we are very grateful.
3. Continue to build our movement
We have to assume for now that Bill 69 will come up again during the March budget discussions. To be ready for that, it would be good to continue to meet with Council members, Neighborhood Boards, and other supportive groups, and continue to collect petition signatures. Please reply to this email if you are interested in joining the working group in this effort.
How the Committee voted on the motion to defer Bill 69:
Chair Ann Kobayashi (Manoa): YES.
Vice Chair Stanley Chang (East Honolulu): NO.
CM Carol Fukunaga (Makiki, Downtown) YES.
CM Joey Manahan (Kalihi) YES.
CM Kymberly Marcos Pine (Ewa, Waianae) YES with serious reservations.
Council Chair Ernie Martin (North Shore) is not on this committee, so could not vote on the motion, but he urged the committee to “shelve” the bill, and if not at least defer the bill until after the Mayor’s budget is released. He asked excellent questions of the administration.
Honolulu City Mayor Kirk Caldwell is seeking authority to sell external advertising space on city buses to reduce the City’s current budget deficit. The Outdoor Circle, Hawai‘i’s oldest, environmental advocate and champion of the 1927 ban on billboards, has long opposed outdoor advertising because it undermines the scenic beauty of our islands.
Like the City, The Outdoor Circle is also very concerned about the City’s longstanding budget shortfall. Honolulu’s parks and trees already suffer from insufficient funding and would likely be early victims in the next round of budget cuts. Many Circle members are also avid bus-riders, who want to see improved and expanded bus service.
Yet, members of the Circle found the Mayor’s proposal to be dubious and dangerous because it could significantly weaken current controls on outdoor advertising and not balance the city’s budget.
The city’s budget shortfall now stands at $156 million. Advertising on the outside of buses is expected to raise $8 million at best, and more likely would raise only $2 million a year. As such, this proposal would soil Honolulu’s scenic beauty and we would still be forced to cut funding to public parks and other essential public services.
Residents and visitors already suffer with the lack of enforcement on stationary sign violations and convoluted applications of the current mobile advertising ban. With outdoor advertising on city buses, it would be a short trip to seeing signs on bus shelters, transit stations, and future rail cars.
Circle members appreciate Mayor Caldwell’s attempts to address these concerns, but his efforts fall short. He cannot promise that the content of the advertising would not be offensive, as constitutional protections guarantee equal access to any form open for public use.
Hawai‘i is special. We want to protect its largest city from turning into just another metropolis, where one cannot blink without being inundated with commercial advertising.
The Outdoor Circle looks forward to working with Mayor Caldwell and his administration to find workable solutions to the City’s budget challenges, but cannot support advertising on the exterior of city buses.
Hawaii News Now: Proposal would put ads on City buses
KHON: Mayor wants buses turned into rolling billboards
KITV: Mayor: Bus Ads Ticket to Restore Routes, Services
PBN: Honolulu mayor proposes adding advertising to the sides of buses
Star-Advertiser: Exterior ads could earn $8 million
Establishing an Environmental Court in Hawaii to improve enforcement of current environmental laws is a top priority for the members of The Outdoor Circle. Today, SB632, one of the bills proposing to do just that, is working its way through the state legislative process -- this is the farthest this bill has ever gotten! Now is our chance to demonstrate to legislators the vast public support for improving environmental protection in Hawaii with this important tool.
This bill has made its way through a gauntlet of committee hearings at the Hawaii State Legislature and is in a good position to be passed by legislators this session. You can help make it happen by submitting testimony in support of SB632 to the Senators and Representatives of the Hawaii State Legislature today. Below you will find a sample testimony that you can make your own and email addresses for all state elected officials.
People power works!
After years of lagging before the state Legislature in various forms, the Environmental Court concept is finally getting heard. Thanks to the combined efforts of The Outdoor Circle, Keep the Hawaiian Islands Beautiful, students at UH's Richardson School of Law, and many concerned residents throughout Hawaii and abroad. Good work everyone! But we still have another lap to go -- we can't let up on the pressure yet.
Please forward this post to your family, friends, and co-workers. We all benefit from a clearer, more healthy environment. SB 632 will help make that happen! Post it on Facebook, send it out on twitter (#EcoCourt), call your neighbors, do whatever you can to help grow this movement and pass SB 632.
(modify this to make it unique and more effective)
Aloha Senators and Representatives,
Thank you for this opportunity to testify in strong support of SB 632 to establish an Environmental Court in the State of Hawaii.
As a society, we in Hawaii value our natural environment above most other things. We enshrined in our constitution that all residents have a right to a "clean and healthful environment." We departments at the state and county levels entrusted with protecting our natural resources for use now and forever into the future.
Yet, enforcement against violations of our environmental laws is often inconsistent between courts. This fosters confusion, undermines compliance, and fuels further litigation. Environmental statutes and regulations are sometimes very technical and require considerable study before judges are equipped to rule in these cases.
Establishing a section of our state court system to adjudicate violations of our environmental laws will help to improve enforcement of these laws. Improved enforcement will lead to reliability in the interpretation of and better compliance with environmental laws. This will mean a clearer environment and better public health for all residents of Hawaii.
This is why I urge you to pass SB 632.
First and Last Name
Send Your Testimony
Send your email to all Senators and all Representatives in the State Legislature by addressing your email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
To learn about the international movement to establish Environmental Courts, visit to European Union Forum of Judges for the Environment at www.eufje.org. Check out their thorough report on the topic, called: "Greening Justice".
Greenleaf is the online newsletter and blog of The Outdoor Circle. Here you will find updates on the projects and accomplishments of our many branches throughout the state, as well as programs with statewide impact.