Last weekend, a Florida company opened shop in Honolulu by flying a little yellow plane over O‘ahu dragging a big advertisement. This company thinks that a waiver it received from the Federal Aviation Administration regarding federal safety regulations entitles it to also violate Hawai‘i’s longstanding ban on billboards. Boy, are they wrong!
With your help, we can make sure the laws that protect our beautiful skylines remain in full effect.
Here is what you can do:
1) If you see the little yellow plane dragging an advertisement, please take a picture and note the date, time, and location of the sighting. If you can see the tail number on the plane, note that as well.
2) Report this information to:
Honolulu Police Department (call 9-11), and
The Outdoor Circle (mail(at)outdoorcircle.org).
Your reports can be anonymous. We’ll use this information in support of an enforcement action against the company. (Remember, it’s a $500 fine for every violation and up to 3 months in prison).
3) Write a letter to your favorite local publication about your experience of this little yellow plane and its illegal advertising. Did it interfere with your enjoyment of Hawai‘i’s natural beauty and open view planes?
4) Support The Outdoor Circle! Staying on top of these regular assaults on Hawai‘i's enviable sign laws is hard work and we need the support of you -- those who benefit from our work -- to keep up our day-to-day operations. Click now to make a secure and meaningful donation to the Circle today and continue to keep Hawai‘i clean, green, and beautiful. Mahalo!
FAQ's on AERIAL ADVERTISING IN HAWAI‘I
Why is the little yellow plane bad?
State law and county ordinances in Hawaii outlaw billboards, including aerial banners. Click here to read: Hawai‘i Revised Statute §445-111 thru 13; click here to read Revised Ordinances of Honolulu §40-6.1 thru 6.2. This little yellow plane from Florida is flying over O‘ahu with advertising banners, in violation of these laws.
Why is aerial advertising so bad?
This little yellow plane is the coqui frog of visual blight in Hawai‘i. If we do not prevent it getting established here, then in a short time Hawai‘i will be over run with aerial advertising from manned and unmanned aerial vehicles. We are already experiencing an arms race of sorts in bus and car advertising. We cannot allow this new invasive species to take hold and further degrade Hawai‘i’s natural beauty and our amazing viewplanes.
Basically, because we value our natural beauty and open space so much -- both financially and emotionally -- that we agreed along ago that billboards are bad for Hawaii, and it does not matter if they are on a building, bus, or bi-plane.
Did the FAA allow them to advertise with aerial banners despite our laws?
No. The Federal Aviation Administration gave the little yellow plane a waiver from FAA safety regulations regarding aerial banner towing. This waiver does not apply to other state and county laws the company has to follow. In fact, the FAA regulations regarding “certificates of waiver or authorization” specifically says:
“The grant of a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization constitutes relief from the specific regulations stated, to the degree and for the period of time specified in the certificate, and does not waive any state law or local ordinance. Should the proposed operations conflict with any state law or local ordinance, or require permission of local authorities or property owners, it is the applicant’s responsibility to resolve the matter.” Click here to read FAA regulations 18-1-2.
Do they have a free speech right to advertise in this way?
No. The 9th Circuit Court ruled in 2006 that because Hawai‘i’s billboard ban – and specifically our ban on aerial advertising – is content neutral it does not violate the First Amendment guarantee to free speech. By content neutral, the court means our advertising laws apply to everybody regardless of what they are saying or how they are saying it. Other cities have tried to regulate advertising based on whether it was offensive or ugly and the courts have ruled those attempts do violate free speech rights because what might be offensive or ugly to one person, might be a fundamental belief worthy of constitutional protection. Unlike these other places, Hawai‘i has a general rule that nobody – no matter what they are saying – can express themselves through billboards. There are many, many ways other than billboards to express ones beliefs and to advertise for products and services.
Moreover, the people of Hawai‘i are empowered to protect our best interests, including our economic and emotional interest in our natural viewplanes. The 9th Circuit wrote that:
“In actuality, the ordinance is designed to protect what is perhaps the state’s most valuable and fragile economic asset-the natural beauty upon which Hawaii’s tourism economy relies. Revenue generated by tourism accounts for almost one quarter of Hawaii’s gross domestic product, and almost one third of the state’s employment. Studies, and common sense, indicate that the scenic beauty of Hawaii is one of the primary factors weighed by potential visitors when determining whether to spend their vacation dollars in Hawaii or another locale. More than half a billion dollars have been spent in the past five years on improvements to public areas in Waikiki, and a large proportion of these expenditures were for primarily aesthetic enhancements.” Center for Bio-Ethical Reform v. Honolulu, 445 F.3d 910, 923 (9th Cir., 2006).
By Marti Townsend, Executive Director
Two aggressive pests threaten the future of Banyan trees in Hawai‘i. The Lobate Lac Scale, known as the “vampire bug” sucks the life out of Chinese Banyans, native Hibiscus, Koa, and about 300 other tree and plant species. So far this scale is found only on Oahu. The Stem Gall Wasp burrows into branches at the base of each stem making it impossible for Chinese banyans to grow new leaves; it has already invaded O‘ahu, Maui, and Hawai‘i Island.
In less than two years, these two aggressive bugs have forced the removal of dozens of banyan trees for safety reasons. Iconic banyan trees have been removed due to these pests at Moanalua Gardens, Thomas Square Park, Kapiolani Park, Washington Place, along the Ala Wai, and the International Marketplace. Chinese banyans at the National Cemetery, UH-Manoa, the Catholic Cemetery on King Street, and Ala Moana Park are infected and undergoing treatment. Despite considerable effort, arborists have yet to find effective treatments for the pests, and in some cases the treatment can be as bad as the disease.
While experts continue the search for a cure, The Outdoor Circle is working hard to plant new trees to replace the those being lost to these infestations. It is important for City and State officials, as well as private land-owners to undertake tree-planting with a determination equal to the feracity of these tree-killing bugs.
“We can’t just plant any kind of tree where these Exceptional and majestic trees once grew,” said TOC President Alexandra Avery. “We need to have the vision and commitment to plant trees now that have the same potential for greatness as the iconic trees we are now losing. This is the only way to ensure there are still Exceptional Trees in the ground for the future generations of Hawai‘i.”
TOC is pleased to report that Washington Place is already preparing to plant trees to replace the 75-year-old Chinese Banyan lost there. Replacement tree plantings and tree relocations are currently being planned for Kapiolani Park and the International Marketplace, while planting plans are being developed for Thomas Square and Ala Moana Park.
Oahu’s banyan trees under attack, many dying by Denby Fawcett, Civil Beat
Tree pest leads to removal of Waikiki Banyan Trees, KITV News
You can help!
Counter the loss of iconic and Exceptional trees on Oahu and throughout the Hawaiian Islands by becoming a member and supporting The Outdoor Circle’s “Exceptional Tree Initiative.” Click here to make a secure, online donation now. We are committed to planting as many trees with the potential to become truly “Exceptional Trees” as possible.
The USDA is seeking our help to eradicate the Rhinoceros Beetle in Hawai’i. This ugly bug burrows into the crowns of coconut and other palms to feed on sap. In the process, they kill the palms. They have voracious appetites, travel easily from tree-to-tree by flying, and can reproduce quickly.
The Rhino beetle is larger than normal bugs in Hawaii with a dark brown shell and a single horn on its head. It lays eggs in compost or rotting coconut leaves. Infected trees will display a distinctive V-shaped cut in the stem of leaves.
If you think you have found a rhino bug, do not move the potentially infested material. Instead immediately call the State Pest Hotline at 808-643-7378.
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.