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Panel declines to place limits on bars


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POSTED: Friday, August 21, 2009

The Honolulu Liquor Commission has unanimously dismissed a petition to impose restrictions on three popular bars at the Waikiki Trade Center.

“;The issue really is public safety,”; said Commission Vice Chairwoman Iris Okawa. “;We want to bring the parties to the table.”;

The commission voted 5-0 yesterday in favor of dismissing the petition, which could have placed restrictions, such as limiting operating hours, on the licenses of the Shack Waikiki, Zanzabar and Black Diamond on Kuhio Avenue. The commissioners said they were pleased that the parties were trying to work out problems themselves.

For about three hours, the commission heard comments from police, bar attorneys, a liquor investigator and the trade center real estate manager.

Jim Boersema, managing partner of Zanzabar, said commissioners “;did a good job of investigating everything.”;

Police had reported that assaults at the trade center were the highest of any address on Oahu this year, prompting the commission to investigate what was happening there.

“;There is no doubt the problems are continuing and that they will continue unless changes are made,”; Deputy Corporation Counsel Tricia Nakamatsu said yesterday.

Monthly police data showed a decrease in assaults the past few months. Assaults peaked at 29 in the first quarter, then dropped to 19 in the second quarter. This year, there have been 59 reported assaults at the center, including three this week.

The Ala Moana Center followed with 20 assaults.

Police data also showed assaults doubled at the Waikiki building from 40 in 2007 to 82 last year, pointing out the jump came after the Shack opened last September.

Matt Chung, attorney for the Shack, said the police have never shown reports to prove the assaults were linked to his client's bar.

He said the Shack has installed a security camera system, hired a security consultant, helped to pay for off-duty sheriffs and closed earlier on some nights so the patrons don't crowd in the lobby at the same time as patrons from Zanzabar.

Steve Sullivan, the center's real estate manager, said the property has hired sheriffs in addition to security, roped off additional areas to prevent customers of one bar from entering another and added additional parking garage attendants.

“;We're just happy with all of the support from everybody, the building and all three nightclubs,”; said Shack Waikiki owner Brendan Burchfiel. “;Our working together will be better for the future.”;