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Chinatown parking stalls closed to stall drug deals


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POSTED: Sunday, October 05, 2008
                       
This story has been corrected. See below.

Late night in Chinatown, the car engines echoed throughout Pauahi Street. Sometimes there was yelling and the swearing, followed by fights.

Drug dealing in the area described by police as "a haven for drugs" kept Diane Ronquillo and her two daughters up at night.

"It's not healthy for them," Ronquillo said, pointing to her daughters. "We pass by this area every time. We don't have any choice."

But a 45-day pilot project that removed nine metered parking stalls may provide some relief from drug dealers.

The stalls on the mauka side of Pauahi Street near River Street were removed Tuesday in an effort reduce drug dealing in the area.

Dealers and buyers would often park along the street, police said. The area is now a no-parking, no-stopping and no-loading zone.

Yesterday police, city prosecutors and local citizen patrol members marked the change with sign waving campaign to let the public know about the change and that drug dealers will not be tolerated.

Police Sgt. Larry Santos Jr. said crystal methamphetamine and crack cocaine are the common drugs bought on the street.

Efforts to make arrests have been hampered because patrol officers need to show cause before questioning people parked in the area, Santos said.

Because parking is not allowed now, police can approached parked cars and ask them what they are doing there, he said.

Santos said if the project is a success, police and prosecutors will ask the city administration to permanently remove the nine stalls.

"To improve the quality of life, it was worth sacrificing nine parking spots," Santos said. "The problem won't be solved overnight ... but we're taking it one street at a time."

Ronquillo said most residents in the area she's spoken with do not mind losing the stalls.

"Some people cannot park before because they already occupied the spaces, the drug dealers and buyers," she said. "They can hear our message now that we don't like the drugs to be here in Chinatown or in our community."

               

     

 

 

CORRECTION

        » The conversion of a stretch of Pauahi Street to a no-parking, standing, stopping, loading or unloading zone does not create new search warrant powers for police to search vehicles. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tana Kekina-Cabaniero was misquoted as suggesting otherwise in a Page A15 article Sunday.