Idling tour-bus engines, revving cars and motorcycles, and delivery trucks' beeping back-up signals.
Anti-noise bill aims to
soothe ears in Waikiki
A councilman wants to fine
disturbers of the late-night peace
By Crystal Kua
Vehicles contribute to some of the early morning racket in Waikiki, says the city councilman who represents the area.
"It's a concern of mine not only because my constituents are complaining about it, but also because Waikiki is the heart of our visitor industry," Councilman Charles Djou said. "And if our visitors continue to complain that Waikiki is not a pleasant place to visit, they're just not going to come back to Hawaii, and that of course is very troubling."
Djou has introduced a bill that prohibits vehicle noise on Waikiki streets over certain decibel levels between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Emergency vehicles, authorized maintenance vehicles, back-up alarm devices and authorized warning devices are exempt.
Police would be able to ticket violators, who could be fined $100 for the first offense and up to $1,000 for the third offense.
Residents and visitors recognize that Waikiki is an urban setting that will always have a certain amount of noise, Djou said.
"It's primarily enhanced motor noise," said Robert Gentry, president of the Gold Coast Neighborhood Association, a newly formed nonprofit group of neighbors living in condominiums along Kalakaua Avenue across from Kapiolani Park.
"It isn't the regular passenger vehicle, SUV, whatever, riding the streets of Waikiki to do business and go about daily or evening activities. It does seem to be vehicles operated in a such a way that they create a level of noise that becomes very disturbing."
Djou said: "It's not only the tour buses, it's also the delivery trucks that come in the wee hours of the morning, it's the garbage truck, it's the motorcycles, it's also kids on these motorized scooters. It's all of that which is causing all of this noise."
Existing laws allow police to cite for "unreasonable" levels of vehicle noise, "but they never do because what exactly is 'unreasonable'?" Djou said. "This is supposed to afford them some clear, more definitive standards."
The bill is patterned after a set of now-defunct state Department of Health regulations on vehicular noise.
Djou said he is not wed to the specific limits in the bill and is flexible to changing those limits.
"What's more important to me is that we do something to combat noise pollution in Waikiki," he said. "More than passing new laws, I think the thing to combat noise in Waikiki is getting better enforcement."
Police, who currently do not have noise meters, should be equipped with them, Djou said, but police can also use their judgment in determining when to cite for noise.
Djou acknowledged that noise complaints are probably not a high priority for police. But he is also trying to organize some kind of citizens patrol -- like the Aloha Patrol -- that may be able to enforce noise regulations.
Gentry is the former mayor and councilman of Laguna Beach, Calif., which tackled a similar issue, he said. Once police were equipped with the decibel meters, the problem went away.
"People wanted to comply, didn't want to get a ticket and wanted to be good neighbors, so it became preventive in addition to being good public policy and good law."
Djou's bill "strikes a very nice balance," Gentry said. "It protects the quality of life of the residents while still permitting the mobility of residents, guests, visitors and services."
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