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StarBulletin.com

Waikiki is a balancing act


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POSTED: Sunday, November 15, 2009

Waikiki, which means “;spouting waters,”; is an interesting urban-residential and tourist destination offering world-renowned shopping, dining and entertainment within walking distance—not to mention a world-famous beach lined with fine hotels.

With an estimated 100,000 visitors, tourism industry workers and residents occupying Waikiki on a daily basis, it's understandable that Waikiki is regarded as a small city.

The Waikiki Community and Health Center, with generous volunteer work and giving by our hotel and visitor industry, deserves special recognition and praise for serving the needs of a diverse community.

Waikiki residents are generally respectful of each other and our visitors. More often than not, everyone is made to feel welcome when living or visiting here. Waikiki has many lifelong residents and repeat visitors from all over the world.

Our top issues

               

     

 

BOARD NO. 9

        ;        THE OFFICERS

        Chairman

        Robert Finley

       
Vice chairman

        Louis Erteschik

       
Secretary / Treasurer

        Michael Peters

       
Members

        Jo-Ann Adams, Les A. Among, Helen Carroll, Raymond A. Gruntz, Jim Poole, Mary Simpson, Jeff Apaka, Walt Flood, Charles K. Torigoe, Francine Dudoit-Tagupa, Jeffrey D. Merz, Chris Rector and Mark Smith

       
To Get involved Contact Neighborhood Commission Office, 768-3710, fax 768-3711, e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

1: Balancing the needs of our residents with the needs of our visitor industry will always be the single most important issue for the Waikiki Neighborhood Board. The major challenge is to support quality initiatives and projects that allow our visitor industry and local economy to succeed, while not jeopardizing Waikiki's unique residential experience and quality of life.

We will always be looking for opportunities to improve Waikiki for its significant residential population, as well as make efforts to support events that attract local visitors to Waikiki.

2: A review of the Waikiki Special District Plan will be a top issue for our board this year. Residents have long voiced frustration that the residential part of Waikiki has not received its fair share of improvements when compared to the Kalakaua-Kuhio Avenue corridor. Changes to the plan are designed to allow small property owners to renovate or rebuild without the demands levied on our major properties aimed at visitors.

Ways to accommodate renovation or replacement of low-rise residential housing while still maintaining Waikiki's special character will receive a great deal of attention.

3: In March 2006, an underground sewer line ruptured, causing 48 million gallons of raw sewage to be pumped into the Ala Wai Canal. In order to avoid further sewage spills or water main breaks, the unglamorous job of underground infrastructure repairs is another top issue for our board.

Unfortunately, these much-needed emergency projects are often noisy and disruptive, causing traffic delays and stress for our residents and tourism industry. While such projects take precedent over personal inconveniences, community input and planning are essential.

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4: A consistent issue is the troubling presence of Waikiki's homeless population. While tourists have always considered Waikiki a paradise, it has also become a haven for the homeless.

Residents and visitors do not like being approached for money and unable to use city pavilions for recreation.

Our board supports measures by the mayor to clean up and renovate parks and public facilities in Waikiki, including Kapiolani Park. Waikiki's homeless are not the same as those living on the beaches on the Leeward coast due to economic factors. Most homeless in Waikiki are from the mainland suffering from addictions and mental illness.

5: The board will continue to work with the Honolulu Police Department and visitor-industry leaders so that Waikiki remains a safe place to live, work and visit. We are aware that problems of drugs, prostitution, property crime, and assault still exist in Waikiki.

Under consideration are overhead surveillance cameras along Kuhio Avenue that work at night and have proven a valuable crime-fighting tool. More street lighting may be necessary in residential areas. Lesser crimes, such as vagrancy, excessive street performers, and noise complaints, are another area of concern.

Waikiki is fortunate to have a police substation and large police presence.

Facts & figures

» World-famous Waikiki was once a playground for Hawaiian royalty.
» A few small guest houses operated in the 1880s, but its first hotel was the Moana Surfrider, built in 1901.
» Neighborhood extends from Ala Wai Canal (dug to drain former wetlands) to Diamond Head.
» Areas of note include renowned hotels and surfing sites, Fort DeRussy and Kapiolani Park.