Field Notes: Gripes and Grievances at the Waikiki Neighborhood Board

Field Notes takes inside looks at the scenes and subcultures of Honolulu. This month: the Waikiki Neighborhood Board.

photos: elyse butler and matt mallams


Who's There?

In theory, the 17 elected members of Neighborhood Board No. 9, Waikiki. In reality, not everyone makes it. Also: government officials and others giving reports and presentations, Waikiki residents sharing their concerns, a disproportionate number of retirees.



Ask a Cop

A police lieutenant from the Waikiki substation reads the month’s crime statistics, then takes questions. A 79-year-old man says he was struck by a bicycle on the sidewalk while boarding a bus in front of the Ilikai. The lieutenant asks if the man sees this bicyclist regularly. No, says the man, but aren’t bicyclists advised when they register their bikes not to ride on the sidewalk? “No bicycles are supposed to be on the sidewalk from the Ala Wai Bridge all the way down to the end of Kapiolani Park,” the lieutenant says. Are golf clubs, the man asks, legal on the sidewalk? “I guess that would depend on your handicap,” the lieutenant deadpans. “So I could carry a golf club as a defense?” asks the man. “Uh, yes sir,” the lieutenant says. “I always forget to bring my golf club,” the man declares.

photos: thinkstock

What's on Their Minds?

>> Radioactive Tsunami Debris A board member worries that it’s in the ocean and that a research vessel has brought some to Kewalo Basin. “Irresponsible!” he says.

>> The Homeless They’re multiplying.

>> Prostitutes They’re multiplying, too, and getting more aggressive. A board member reports that he was solicited on Kalakaua Avenue, then attacked. “I said , ‘I’m not interested,’ and kept walking. She followed me. I said, ‘I’m not interested, go away.’ She followed me again. I took out my camera. Took a picture of her. She hit me.”

>> Drunks “Our neighborhood has become a 24/7 frat party, screaming and yelling at all hours of day and night,” says a woman who lives in Seaside Towers. “It’s just god awful.”

>> Sidewalks Multiple problem spots, but according to a woman who lives near Aloha Drive, hers is the worst. “It’s a mess, it’s disgusting, it’s shameful, it’s very sad,” she says.

>> Blighted Park on Kuhio Avenue Despite talk of cleaning it up, it’s still a mess. A neighbor reports: “The rubbish is still there, people are still using it for a restroom facility, the sidewalk is still filthy. It’s absolutely disgusting.”

>> Dog Poop A board member reports the misdeeds of a small black dog whose owners regularly let him “do his business” on Kuhio Beach at night.

>> X-Rated Fliers on display for all to see. “These girls here are totally nude,” says a concerned citizen, holding a flyer, “but they were told to put tape over the top part.”

>> Jaywalkers They make  right-hand turns difficult for motorists.

>> Street Performers They make too much noise.

>> Protestors They sit across the street from McDonald’s displaying a sign that says “McCruelty.” A board member wants to know if they’re allowed to do that. “I think maybe they’re vegans, or vayguns, and they’re protesting the way McDonald’s prepares their meat, possibly,” he says.


photos: elyse butler and matt mallams

Reports and Presentations

>> A food and beverage consultant for the Honolulu Zoo reports on the zoo’s plans to serve “adult beverages” (alcohol) in one of the zoo’s “secured locations” (shave ice stand). As the location will be secured, he says, “No need to worry about drunken monkeys.”

>> A representative from the governor’s office says that tsunami debris was  brought to Kewalo Basin, but it was not radioactive. In fact, none of the ocean’s tsunami debris is radioactive. “No cause for concern,” she says.  “Any questions?”

>> A representative from the mayor’s office, reading a response to a complaint about a missing sidewalk, says: “The Department of Design and Construction ‘Did not pave missing sidewalk when we paved Paoakalani [Avenue] because this was out of their scope.’ And I’m not sure what that means. If you’d like me to find that out—again, I’m just reading the report.”

>> The state’s newly appointed homeless coordinator says the “big idea” the neighborhood board should remember is that neither government, the private sector nor the faith-based community alone can solve homelessness. Rather, he says, “It’s going to be solved by all of us.” A board member replies that the board wants a law-enforcement solution. “I don’t think we’re going to give you the type of big idea you’re looking for,” he says.

>> A planning consultant, representing an Ala Wai Boulevard property owner who intends to tear down an old house to build a new house, explains the project. After examining the consultant’s poster presentation, a board member says, “If you look at the current dwelling compared to the proposed dwelling, this thing is a no brainer—no offense to the current dwelling.