Thursday, May 17, 2001

Adult businesses
win zoning delay

The mayor would have
banned them from the
convention center area

By Lisa Asato

The city Planning Commission has handed Mayor Jeremy Harris a setback to plans to rid the Keeaumoku-Kapiolani area of adult entertainment establishments.

Testimony yesterday before the nine-member commission changed at least one commissioner's mind and had two others calling for an economic impact study before taking action on the plan.

The Planning Commission voted 6-1 to defer decision-making to June 13, with two members absent.

"There was no question I was going to vote for the amendments," said Charlie Rodgers, chairman of the Planning Commission. "Now I'm convinced there are some pukas."

His conclusion came after about an hour of testimony in which a handful of attorneys representing adult establishments challenged the constitutionality of the proposal. They said that while the city can regulate and limit adult businesses, it cannot eliminate the businesses altogether.

Jennifer Barnes, an employee of Club Rock-Za, located in the so-called Waikiki gateway district, pleaded with commissioners to save her job. She said the money she earns lets her work part time, go to school to better herself and care for her three children.

"Without this job I wouldn't be able to stay at home with them if they had chicken pox. ... I'm here begging for my job," she said.

The proposal would designate 174.5 acres within a half-mile of the mauka and Ewa ends of the Hawai'i Convention Center as a "convention center special district." The district would be subject to zoning requirements along major thoroughfares and ban adult businesses, phasing out existing establishments over three years.

The proposal is part of the mayor's comprehensive plan to revitalize Waikiki.

John Breinich, chairman of the Ala Moana/Kakaako Neighborhood Board, said this district has the highest concentration of bars and clubs on the island, making it "by far the most important thing affecting area residents," he said. "This is the first positive step to try get the neighborhood back for residents."

But commissioners Georgietta Carroll and Myles Shimabukuro said adult entertainment is part of every culture. "For me, hostess bars, what's indecent?" Shimabukuro asked.

He said concerns raised about crime associated with such establishments have not been supported with evidence.

"We're not even looking at what the legislation is going to do to curb crime. I want to see the Police Department here. I want the Liquor Commission here. I want a study."

But it was Carroll who drew hoots and applause when she added: "The whole thing is that the (adult) businesses are in the wrong place. My whole thing is, the convention (center) is in the wrong place."

Attorney Earle Partington said the decision shows the commission realizes this is not as simple a problem as the city tried to present. "There are economic consequences detrimental to the state," said Partington, who represents Aaxtion Adult Video and Books and Crystal Palace/Centerfolds.

E-mail to City Desk

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

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin