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Wednesday, October 25, 2000

Ala Moana/Kakaako
board blames bars for
crime, noise, traffic

The board tells the mayor that
enforcing existing liquor laws would
reduce hostess and strip bars

By Mary Adamski

Residents of the Kapiolani business district believe the problems of crime, noise and traffic congestion attached to the swarm of bars in the area would diminish if the Honolulu Liquor Commission applied existing laws.

"The number of hostess and strip bars would be quickly reduced by applying Rule 45-2 to transfers," said a resolution adopted by the Ala Moana/ Kakaako Neighborhood Board last night.

The communication was addressed to Mayor Jeremy Harris, who asked the board for its proposal after he and his Cabinet attended its June meeting.

"We are asking the mayor to ask the Liquor Commission to enforce rules already in existence," said board member Bobbie Jennings.

Board member Larry Hurst said there are more than 50 strip and hostess bars in the district -- and that doesn't count liquor licenses held by restaurants and retail stores.

Concerns about the dangers to the neighborhood from those businesses are discussed at most of the board's monthly meetings.

Liquor Rule 45-2 prohibits issuing a new license for a hostess or strip bar or cabaret with a 4 a.m. closing time for a premise within 500 feet of another bar of the same class.

Under the current Liquor Commission's interpretation, the rule does not apply when a license is transferred to a new owner of an existing bar.

But the board's resolution charges that "there is no clause to exempt transfers."

In language approved last night, Hurst wrote: "Those bars frequently change hands, often in a year's time or less. Those bars have been approved at locations side by side, on the same property, even in the same building." Member Dyane Sih said, "If that rule is applied, there would be a natural attrition of licenses in the area, which we want and the mayor supported."

Board members circulated copies of a Sept. 7 letter from Harris to the Honolulu Liquor Commission in which he said: "It is my belief that the Keeaumoku/ Sheridan community has been negatively impacted by the large number of liquor establishments in the area. Therefore, before any liquor license is issued, I strongly recommend that we evaluate the overall impact that our licensing approvals have on this community."

The board also wrote Harris that it recommends that none of those classes of license be granted if the premise is within 500 feet of any residence, public school, park or playground, place of worship, any other bar or any sex-oriented business not licensed to sell liquor.

The board called for the Liquor Commission to increase monitoring of hostess and strip bars "especially to eliminate all prostitution including the illegal practices of hostessing and prohibited dancer conduct."

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