Shopping center looks for a sign from the city


POSTED: Thursday, May 21, 2009

Makiki Shopping Village on Wilder Avenue and its 16 tenants are scrambling to comply with city sign ordinances and might have to take their signs down.

An inspector from the city Department of Planning and Permitting's Commercial and Multi-Family Code Enforcement Branch went to the center early this month to notify the landlord and its tenants of the violations.

Repeated calls to the offices, including the director's office, were not returned.

It was not clear if the city scrutiny was in response to a complaint.

“;They're saying we don't have a permit, and the signs that we do have are not permitted and need to be removed,”; said Jay Kam, owner of the wine and spirits shop.

His family also owns grocery store Village Market and is also the shopping center landlord under Kams Ltd.

“;The law is the law, so I'm not against it,”; but, he added, he is hopeful for an amicable resolution.

The center was renovated in 1993 and permitting for the signage apparently was not included in all the work that was done at the time.

Some tenants have obtained permits while others, including Peppa's Korean BBQ and Pizza Hut, have taken down some of their signage to be in compliance.

Subway had a permit for its sign, but since it brought a TCBY frozen yogurt operation into its space and wants that reflected on its sign, “;they have to reapply,”; said Kam.

Rules applying to tenants with street frontage are “;very clear,”; he said, and most of the center's tenants do have street frontage.

However, the 40-year-old Vintage Wine Cellar and neighboring Alpha Video Makiki have been told they may not display a sign at all.

The inspector “;gave us some time to send in a permit application, but when my architects went in to apply for the permits, they rejected our application,”; Kam said.

“;They told us that because of our situation — we're in a basement with a shared entry between the video store and us — we're not allowed to have any signs.”;

The shop is visible from the street but has no street frontage — the building faces another building, across a parking lot.

His review of city ordinances turned up “;no particular laws or ordinances that specifically say what to do or what not to do for a basement.”;

“;There's no way to remedy this without, I guess, applying for a variance. I'm willing to listen,”; said Kam.

“;I've got to follow the law,”; he said. “;Maybe there is some sort of compromise where we can have a sign.”;

A permit costs $400, and two weeks following notification of noncompliance, a businesses can be fined $100 daily for continued violations, Kam said.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Reach her by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)