Advertisement - Click to support our sponsors.

Thursday, April 6, 2000

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Waikiki street performances, such as this one on Kalakaua
Avenue last December, will be restricted under a city
measure passed yesterday by the City Council.

The taming of Waikiki

The City Council puts the
squeeze on street performers
in the tourist zone

Other laws cleaning up Waikiki

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
and Harold Morse


First it was the T-shirt vendors, the publishers, hookers, handbillers and parrot solicitors.

Yesterday, the City Council approved a bill adding street performers to the list of groups that are regulated in their use of Waikiki sidewalks.

The measure requires the robot mime people, the conga player and other Waikiki street performers to obtain a permit, and then only be able to perform in six designated sections of Waikiki.

The bill will limit them to three-hour performances between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Conflicts in slots will be resolved by lottery. Violators will be fined up to $200.

Waikiki Councilman Duke Bainum, who introduced the measure, said the last thing he wants to do is limit street entertainment but the performers generate complaints ranging from late-night noise to congestion along the sidewalks.

Police reported pedestrians being forced to step onto Kalakaua Avenue to avoid the crowds attracted by street performers, which number up to 30 on busy nights.

"That's not right, that's dangerous," Bainum said, adding that some nights officers stand against the street to keep pedestrians from spilling over.

Bainum said the problem is particularly acute on Kalakaua between Seaside and Kaiulani avenues.

None of the six new designated spots are within that area, although four are along other sections of Kalakaua.

Merchants also have complained about performers and crowds blocking the entrances to their businesses, he said.

The measure has broad support from Waikiki residents, businesses and the Waikiki Improvement Association.

Bainum, Mayor Jeremy Harris and other supporters said it's just their latest attempt to clean up Waikiki's sidewalks and improve its image as a tourist destination.

All said the measures stem from the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in March 1996 not to hear an appeal by T-shirt vendors against the city's ordinance banning them from operating along Waikiki sidewalks.

While the vendors argued their First Amendment right to free speech and expression, the city argued that it had a right to regulate the "time, place and manner" of their activity in order to protect the public's health and safety.

"The First Amendment guarantees the rights to do these activities," Bainum said. "But the courts have assured us that the city has the authority and the responsibility to protect its citizens and visitors."

The handbilling, animal-solicitation and publication-rack bills were all, like the street-performer measure, introduced by Bainum.

Visitors to Hawaii want to be able to "stroll along the sidewalks and be able to look into the shops and enjoy the ambience of a Hawaiian experience," the mayor said.

"What they don't want is to wade through tables of T-shirts and be bottle-necked with mimes and electric jumpsuits and parrots and people charging them $50 to have a picture taken with their own cameras."

Kaylene Polichetti, vice president of the Waikiki Improvement Association, applauded what she called "a very sizable body of important sidewalk legislation" for Waikiki.

Performers, handbillers and the other regulated interests all have a role in Waikiki, she said.

"But when every few feet someone is trying to give you some literature to read, or there's some kind of street performance going on without some kind of regulation, I think it becomes too cluttered and creates a really bad image down there," she said.

Civil rights attorney Dan Foley, who represented T-shirt vendors in their case against the city, holds mixed views about sidewalk regulations in Waikiki.

The city may legally have a right to regulate sidewalk activity and he doesn't necessarily feel it's wrong to do so, he said, noting that he feels it's business interests, rather than public safety, that are driving the legislation.

What the city is saying, he said, is "when it comes to Waikiki, business is more important than the First Amendment."

A random sampling of people near International Market Place last night:

Bullet "I don't mind basically street entertainment," said Don Walker, 29, a Dallas geologist. "If they put on a good show, that's all right," he said.
Bullet "They're going to do that one, huh?" snorted Leonard Swalwell, 68, a retiree from Seattle. Looking down Kalakaua Avenue, he noted the whole street is for tourism. "I think it adds to the atmosphere of the whole thing," he said, referring to street performers.
Bullet "I think they should be allowed to do whatever they want," said Jeff Erksa, 20, a Pearl Harbor-based Navy petty officer, noting the sidewalks are still passable. "People come down (and) they like to gather round. They like to hear that. It brings smiles to people's faces. I like to hear music."
Bullet Malia Soares, 33, a Waikiki hotel reservationist from Niu Valley, wants curbs on street performers. "I think that's a good idea, because this place would be like San Francisco and it would be overrun," she said.

 | | |

Cracking down
on ‘nuisances’

Here are laws passed by the City Council or state Legislature to curb so-called nuisances in Waikiki:

Bullet Street performers ordinance: Those who perform music or some other entertainment on Waikiki sidewalks will now be required to obtain a permit and work only in designated areas.

Bullet Peddling ordinance: Street vendors are banned from selling their merchandise anywhere within the Waikiki Special District.

Bullet Prostitution-free zones law (state law): People convicted of prostitution laws are barred from being on Waikiki streets during evening hours for a period of time.

Bullet Publication racks ordinance: In the most congested areas of Waikiki, publishers of newspapers and magazines are allowed to place their materials only in city-established dispensing machines.

Bullet Handbilling ordinance: Those who distribute handbills cannot conduct their business where the pedestrian passageway is less than four feet wide, or in areas designated as driveways, crosswalks, street corners or bus stops.

Bullet Animal solicitations ordinance: Those seeking payment for having pictures of their animals taken with people cannot place the animals on customers. They must also wear signs making it clear in English and Japanese that the photos are taken for donation only.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2000 Honolulu Star-Bulletin