Arrogance, Thy Name is Little Yelllow Plane. And Thou Art Doomed.
There are no billboards in Hawaii. We have what must be by far the most restrictive sign law anywhere in the United States … maybe in the world. Simply stated, you cannot have a sign promoting your business anywhere but at your place of business or on your business vehicles, meaning delivery vans and trucks. The law limits the size of the signs at your place of business and there are no signs allowed above the first floor.
That law has been on the books since some time in the 1920s. Originally championed by The Outdoor Circle — an organization that is to this very day mostly comprised of stern and determined women — public officials continue to aggressively enforce the law to preserve the incredible natural beauty of this place. They’d better! We wouldn’t have it any other way.
There are occasional challenges, invariably from someone just off the boat from the U.S. mainland where outdoor advertising is common. At the moment, authorities are trying to find a small yellow plane that’s been flying back and forth over our beaches towing banners. The owner of the company — the arrogant twit is from the mainland, of course — claims our law is illegal. It isn’t. He’ll be fined; he will appeal; he will lose; and he will go back to Burbank or wherever he came from. As I said, the authorities here take our sign ordinance very seriously.
How seriously? Years ago, I ran the Office of Information and Complaint for the City of Honolulu. The wife of actor James MacArthur owned a shop in Kilohana Square, a small cluster of retail establishments tucked away and set back from one of our busier roads. Melanie called me to find out if they could put up an additional sign to help people find their shops. Rather than try to explain it over the phone, I asked the city employee most familiar with the sign ordinance if she would take a run out to Kilohana Square, meet with Melanie and the other shop owners, and explain the details of the sign ordinance so they would know what they could and could not do.
A few days later, Melanie called to say that the woman from the city had shown up and, not only did she decline to advise them about a new sign but, while she was there, she cited three of the shops for having illegal signs. Melanie then informed me that the Kilohana Square Merchants Association had concluded their meeting by voting 9-0 to approve a resolution “never again to ask Jim Loomis for help or advice.”
She was laughing when she told me. I think.