Hundreds gather to strategize about Chinatown's future - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hundreds gather to strategize about Chinatown's future

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new strategy is aiming to revitalize a Hawaii community rich with history.

The first ever "Chinatown Action Summit" attracted hundreds of people Saturday morning to brainstorm ways to make the neighborhood safer and more appealing.

Some say Chinatown is the heart beat of Honolulu, with culture, cuisine and history.

"Chinatown is really the heart of this city, it's where our city grew from, as you know, a small little fishing village. Kamehameha the Great's brother lived here, but immigrants started to move to Chinatown very quickly, the Chinese first. And it's where everything started, it's really where the American Dream begins," said Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

So many people feel that same passion. That's why nearly 300 of them, residents, business owners and community leaders, came together to think of innovative ways to make Chinatown a better place.

Part of the action summit was breaking off into sessions and brainstorming ideas. 

Sandra Pohl owns a gallery in Chinatown. She says there needs to be more accessible parking.

"I think the easiest thing that they can do that will make a difference is better parking! They have lots of municipal parking spaces, buildings, but nobody can find them because the signs are so pretty, it doesn't say "Parking" in big signs," Pohl said.

Community leaders say they want to encompass modern technologies that will make it easier to find and manage parking. For example, electronic signs showing what parking lots and spots are available. They said they also envision a day without quarters and you can pay by credit card or phone.

Deputy Director for the City and County Transportation Services proposed ideas for car-sharing; renting a car for a short time and dropping it off in a designated area for someone else to pick up and use.

"Every time a car-share car is used, there's actually studies that have shown ten private cars get off the street because people find share-cars to be so accessible and so easy to use," said Mark Garrity.

While they understand that certain things take time, like minimizing crime, helping the homeless, and utilizing rail, they hope Saturday's ideas can be implemented in the near future.

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