TransportationTransportation industry leaders are unhappy with Mayor Jeremy Harris' plan to block off a section of Kalakaua Avenue one Sunday morning a month for a "Brunch on the Beach."
operators turn up
noses at Mayors
'Brunch on the Beach' will
create a Waikiki traffic
disaster, they say
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
"There will be a definite impact on not being able to drive through Kalakaua," said Gareth Sakakida, managing director of the Hawaii Transportation Association.
The nonprofit group represents 350 ground transportation carriers including taxi and tour bus operators.
The brunches, the first of which is scheduled for next Sunday, will entail the closure of Kalakaua from Kaiulani to Liliuokalani avenues fronting Kuhio Beach from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Sakakida said motorists should expect Koa and Kuhio avenues to be slammed with tour buses, taxis and other vehicles during the hours of the brunch event.
He noted that the section of Koa Avenue behind the Hyatt Regency Waikiki is already a busy traffic area during daylight hours seven days a week. A number of tour operators in the area use the area to pick up and drop off visitors, he said.
"It's not that easy to find tourism loading zones throughout Waikiki," Sakakida said.
He acknowledged that Sunday traffic in Waikiki may be relatively mellow compared to other days, but added that "to the individual operators that would have to go through there, it's going to be bad."
Bucky Yee, president and owner of Elite Limousine, said shutting down a portion of Kalakaua at any time for any reason is bad for business.
"It just hinders our whole operation," Yee said, noting that it is bad enough when Kalakaua needs to be blocked off for the numerous parades that are held along there annually.
"Tourism is the economic engine for the state but they always forget about transportation," he said.
"We have to able to get people in and out," Yee said. "Planes aren't going to wait for them."
Yee said he fears visitors staying in hotels along the affected route that have midafternoon flights may be forced to check out before 6:30 a.m. to catch their planes.
City officials said they do not expect traffic to be heavy, noting that people traveling into Waikiki can park at either Honolulu Zoo or Kapiolani Park and catch a free shuttle to the brunch.
The event is sponsored by the city and the Waikiki Improvement Association to draw locals back to the tourist destination.
The closed-off area will be covered with Astroturf, chairs and tables with blue umbrellas. There will be table seating for 400 and an additional 150 chairs along the closed street.
Food will be sold at booths run by various hotels and restaurants. Local entertainment will be available during the monthly events.
City officials have not yet released costs associated with the event.