Arial ads hawaiiNo, it’s not Pearl Harbor. But from some of the reactions we’re seeing, you might think the Imperial Japanese Navy was once again anchored off of our fair shores.

But thankfully no, it’s only aerial advertising, one small airplane towing a sign. But the airplane’s sorties have been generating attention like you wouldn’t believe.

Hawaii has always been protective of its scenery, with an out-and-out prohibition on billboards, and two federal courts concluding pretty definitively (in our view) that the City and County of Honolulu’s prohibition on airborne signs and advertising is not preempted by federal law, and does not violate Free Speech rights. See this Ninth Circuit decision (cert denied, by the way), and this earlier case, also from the Ninth.

Not so fast, says one company, which seems intent on pushing back. According to this story (“State and Local Officials Up Ante Against Sky Banner Ad Company“), an outfit called Aerial Banners North “has been toting banners through the sky along the windward and North Shore coasts of Oahu in violation of city law.” Honolulu’s Mayor “has vowed to prosecute the company,” and another story breathlessly reports “Attorney for Aerial Banners North arrives in Honolulu” (the headline leaves us with the image of the lawyer wading ashore, like MacArthur).

So we’re following this story with keen interest, because we like Municipal Law and that kind of stuff. Plus, the amped-up coverage of the issue just puts a smile on our face. See, for example, the report that “The Outdoor Circle issues cease-and-desist letter over aerial advertising“). We’re not sure how the Outdoor Circle, an environmental non-profit, can “issue a cease-and-desist letter” like it was the Planning Department or something, that promises if Aerial Banners doesn’t ground itself, “then appropriate legal action will be taken against the company.” But hey, what do we know?

– See more at: http://www.inversecondemnation.com/#.dpuf

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Robert H. Thomas is one of the preeminent land use lawyers in Hawaii. He specializes in land use issues including regulatory takings, eminent domain, water rights, and voting rights cases. He has tried cases and appeals in Hawaii, California, and the federal courts. Robert received his LLM, with honors, from Columbia Law School where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, and his JD from the University of Hawaii School of Law where he served as editor of the Law Review. Robert taught law at the University of Santa Clara School of Law, and was an exam grader and screener for the California Committee of Bar Examiners. He currently serves as the Chair of the Condemnation Law Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section on State & Local Government Law. He is the Hawaii member of Owners’ Counsel of America, a national network of the most experienced eminent domain and property rights lawyers. Membership in OCA is by invitation only, and is limited to a single attorney from each state. Robert is also the Managing Attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation Hawaii Center, a non-profit legal foundation dedicated to protecting property rights and individual liberties. Reach him at rht@hawaiilawyer.com He is also a frequent speaker on land use and eminent domain issues in Hawaii and nationwide. For a list of upcoming events and speaking engagements.