Council committee hears concerns about Waikiki crime, overcrowding

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Looking around Waikiki, homelessness, crime and overcrowding remain issues for the hot spot of tourism. However, there's renewed interest from city council members to clean up the flagship destination.

City department leaders, HPD officials and concerned residents testified before the Business, Economic Development and Tourism Committee Thursday, detailing continued challenges the area faces.

Community residents say overcrowded sidewalks, traffic congestion, and a lack of parking are among the biggest recurring problems.

"We'd like to see these types of mobile kiosks banned. Waikiki sidewalks are the busiest in the state for sure. Some of the busiest in the country," Waikiki Improvement Association President Rick Egged said.

There were also talks about projects like a new circulator bus system, new crosswalks and suggestions to change city ordinances to help combat illegal street vendors.

Residents say, when it comes to homelessness and crime, it remains an ongoing, major problem. Individuals are finding loopholes in the law and becoming more brazen.

"They're dealing heroin and whatever they want. They're throwing things. They're urinating, defecating in front of tourists," Waikiki resident David Moskowitz said. "A lot of people don't like going out at night."

Committee chairman Trevor Ozawa says the committee will make every effort possible to help address the problems. He says because Waikiki is the anchor of the tourism industry, these problems affect the entire state.

The latest state numbers show Waikiki alone accounts for $7 billion in visitor spending a year. That's more than 42 percent of total visitor spending statewide.

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