Pearl City bar loses its liquor license
The Honolulu Liquor Commission has tried to ensure that some residents of Pearl City will get a good night's rest.
Hui Ohana Lounge, a neighborhood disco that kept residents and students of a nearby elementary school up at night, was denied a renewal of its liquor license yesterday by the Honolulu Liquor Commission.
"I'm not going to go around closing bars. I just wanted to make it safe for the community," said Fay Toyama, principal of Lehua Elementary School, who approached legislators about the bar after cleaning up used needles and condoms in one of the school's parking lots.
Commission Chairman Dennis Enomoto said this is the first time in his six years on the commission that the public has forced the nonrenewal of a bar's license.
Pearl City residents have complained about the lounge's loud noise and its negative effects on the school for years.
Residents said there were other problems: urinating on walls, bar patrons taking residents' parking stalls, and vandals breaking windows, said Pearl City Neighborhood Board Vice-Chairman James Pickard.*
Clark Hirota, deputy corporation counsel, told the liquor commission yesterday that police had responded to 200 incidents at the bar since 2001, including cases of assault, public drunkenness, property damage, robbery, rape and car accidents.
"Today we are very happy," said state Rep. Mark Takai, who represents the area. "It's a great day for residents of Pearl City and students of Lehua Elementary. About a year ago at this time, we were not hopeful this day would come."
Takai attended five meetings with the Liquor Commission since last June to reach a solution between residents and the bar.
Last June, the commission renewed the bar's liquor license with conditions that security be provided, the entrance be restricted to one door, operating hours be limited, and that the manager, Clayton Haumea, be present at specified times.
In December, the owner of the bar, Hyon Cha Suinn, agreed in mediation to close the bar at the end of the year if community members agreed not to oppose her application for a new license at a different location.
The bar and Melrose Place, another bar across the street, both had their liquor licenses before the state Legislature enacted a law in 1991 banning the granting of new liquor licenses for establishments within 500 feet of schools and playgrounds.
Suinn's attorney, Keith Kiuchi, said Haumea operated the bar under a management agreement.
Haumea did not appear at the hearing yesterday.
"I don't know why he's not here," Kiuchi said, adding that he does not represent Haumea and was troubled by him closing the restaurant in May without notifying the owner.
"We are unable to respond to the commission's concerns," he said.
"The students are more settled because they are more rested," Toyama said. "It's good to know the process works."
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
» James Pickard is vice chairman of the Pearl City Neighborhood Board. A Page A5 article Friday incorrectly referred to him as Joe Pickard.