Police crackdown on Waikiki kiosks stirs debate

Kiosk crackdown in Waikiki

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu police in Waikiki last week impounded five kiosks suspected of illegal peddling, Waikiki businesses and residents said.

But the crackdown had a twist: Operators were cited for restricting public access on the sidewalk, a law originally designed to get the homeless off of Oahu streets.

Some residents are applauding the Honolulu Police Department for being creative.

"These people are peddling, illegally peddling on the street. Their presence there is basically illegal," said Waikiki resident Dave Moskowitz.  "I think it leaves a bad stain on Waikiki's reputation."

Many of the kiosks are there to promote tour packages and timeshares. They are legal so long as they don't take payments.

Businesses complain that money does in fact changes hands and that the operators often overcharge their customers. They add that the kiosks operators have an unfair advantage over retailers with storefronts who to pay the hefty rents in Waikiki.

But one kiosk operator we spoke to said his company complies with the law.

"They're not engaging really in any illegal activity."

Proving an illegal peddling case requires a lot of detective work. But the city's sidewalk nuisance law gives police a shortcut.

Rick Egged, president of the Waikiki Improvement Association, say it's an appropriate use of the law since the kiosks also pose safety hazards.

"The public sidewalk gets crammed with people trying to use a desirable space to sell their wares," he said.

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