Wednesday, November 17, 1999

City & County of Honolulu

Major scrutiny
proposed for
liquor commission

A management audit
would be included in
City Council plans

Sex-oriented businesses hit zoning snag

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


The Honolulu Liquor Commission would get its first management audit in 20 years as part of a package of measures moving out of the City Council's Planning Committee.

Councilman Andy Mirikitani, a longtime critic of the commission, said the actions would increase the panel's accountability and effectiveness, particularly in the area of enforcement.

Mirikitani, who heads the Planning Committee, told colleagues yesterday there has been "very little oversight or scrutiny" of the commission despite a $2 million budget and more than 50 employees.

Mirikitani charged that enforcement, particularly in the area of adult entertainment and teen night clubs, has been lax. He also criticized the commission for violating open government provisions during a recent case.

Finance Director Roy Amemiya, whose Budget and Fiscal Services Department has administrative jurisdiction over the commission, called an audit "premature." Amemiya said he has not seen evidence that unresolved problems exist with the commission.

Funding for an audit remains unclear. Mirikitani says possibilities include having the commission pay for it out of its funds or having the audit done in-house through the Office of Council Services.

A resolution endorsed by the committee yesterday calls for the commission to hold meetings in neighborhoods affected by their actions.

Other resolutions approved in committee yesterday call for:

Bullet The state Legislature to grant complete control over liquor commissions to the counties or the state.

Bullet The Legislature or Liquor Commission to require lobbyists engaged in activities with the commission to abide by state lobbyist reporting and disclosure laws.

Bullet The Legislature or the Liquor Commission to require commission members and lobbyists to abide by the state's rules requiring the disclosure of gifts.

The measures now will go to the Council for a vote Dec. 1.

A sixth resolution that called for new recruits in the Police Department to act as liquor inspectors was shelved. Police recruit officers said liability, experience and officer shortages make the use of recruits impractical.

Amemiya acknowledged that the familiarity local bar owners have with Liquor Commission inspectors has hindered enforcement.

Wallace Weatherwax, liquor control administrator, said he has no comment on the resolutions. The commission will take a look the package at its meetings in December, he said.

Council panel OKs bill
to limit sex businesses

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


Kelly Rosati says sex-oriented businesses have negative effects on neighborhoods and wants them removed.

Mainland studies show negative secondary impacts including "increased crime, increased urban blight, increased prostitution, decreased property values and increased noise and other behavior that threatens nearby residents and other businesses," Rosati said.

It looks like Rosati, executive director of the Hawaii Family Forum, may get her wish from the City Council despite questions raised about constitutionality and enforcement.

The Zoning Committee yesterday checked off on a bill that would curb adult bookstores, theaters and other sex-oriented (but nonalcoholic) establishments on Oahu.

Under the bill, introduced by Councilman Andy Mirikitani, adult establishments would only be allowed in community business, industrial and industrial mixed-use neighborhoods. That would leave them out of traditional residential neighborhoods including areas zoned for neighborhood business, apartment and resort commercial districts.

They would be disallowed within 500 feet of churches, day care facilities or schools. Further, they would be barred within 500 feet of each other except in industrial and industrial mixed-use zones.

Existing adult establishments would have to move within a year of the bill becoming law. In cases where two such shops are within 500 feet of each other, the one there longer would be allowed to stay.

The bill does not bar a school, church or day care facility from moving within 500 feet of an adult establishment, but it would create a new 500-foot zone where future adult establishments could not encroach.

Planning Director Jan Sullivan said legal experts believe that if the city doesn't make available 5 percent developable land for adult establishments, it is unduly restricting them and violating their free-speech rights. She said a map shows an estimated 6.83 percent available.

She warned, however, that a proliferation of churches in industrial areas may make the bill unconstitutional.

Sullivan also raised issue with enforcement stating that her department is already short-staffed.

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