City Council passes street performance ban for Waikiki
The mayor hopes a compromise can avoid an ACLU suit
The heart of Waikiki would be off limits three hours each night to mimes, jugglers, musicians and other street entertainers, under a bill passed 7-2 by the City Council yesterday.
The bill now goes to Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who said he hopes to strike a compromise with the American Civil Liberties Union, which has vowed to take the city to court if the measure becomes law.
The ACLU contends the bill is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment.
Four years ago, a state judge struck down a similar ordinance enacted in 2000 and challenged by the ACLU.
Bill 71 would ban street performances from 7 to 10 p.m. daily along Kalakaua Avenue between Lewers and Uluniu streets. Violators would be fined at least $10O.
Yesterday, Waikiki businesspeople and residents asked the Council to approve the bill because the street performers pose a risk to public health and safety by clogging Waikiki sidewalks.
"The situation has created large crowds that are causing pedestrians to enter the street to get by, which creates an unsafe condition," Waikiki hotel executive Fred Orr said.
But the street performers said the restrictions in essence would shut them down.
Hannemann said he was concerned that the Council moved up the final vote on the bill by skipping the last committee hearing, which eliminated an opportunity for the public to comment on the measure.
"I fully expected that it would go back to committee," Hannemann said. "On this one here they chose to bypass."
Hannemann said he plans to sit down with city attorneys and wants to meet with the ACLU to find middle ground.
"If they have an idea to keep us out of court and we can come to some kind of agreement, I'd like to use that time now to go back to the Council and say, reconsider," Hannemann said.
Waikiki Councilman Charles Djou, who introduced Bill 71, has said that he has tried to reach an agreement with the ACLU before passing the bill but to no avail.
"In life, sometimes people communicate better with other people," the mayor said. "I'll take a stab at it to see whether there are different results."
Hannemann said he has had good discussions in the past with ACLU Legal Director Lois Perrin and found her to be open.
"I'll reach out and ask the same of her this time to see whether we can find common ground," Hannemann said. "I'll do a site visit to Waikiki specifically to see an idea that I had broached with her. That's something worth exploring."