Fed-up residents discuss how to curb illegal racing, drifting on Tantalus Drive

MAKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The twists and turns of Tantalus Drive above Makiki are a big magnet for illegal street racers and drifters, and residents are trying to curb that need for speed.

"We lay in bed and we hear people screeching their tires," said area resident Jon Matsuoka. "Somebody's gonna get killed. And someone almost did get killed."

The discussion took a front seat at the Makiki-Tantalus Neighborhood Board meeting Thursday after 33 year-old Leticia Altman was injured when police say an illegal street racer hit her as she rode her bike.

Longtime residents are fed up.

"I would put a speed bump every five feet if it would stop the racing because I get scared driving home," said Lynda Sakraida of the Tantalus Community Association.

Others said it wasn't just the racing and drifting. They are also angry about unsafe driving conditions, including overgrown grass encroaching on the roadway.

"Things like trimming the vegetation, maintaining the roadway, these are fundamental services and what the government should be providing. And they are not providing it," said Josh Feldman, another Tantalus resident.

Police said they have increased their patrols of the area since the Jan. 25 crash.

"They have given six warnings and issued 24 citations, and those extend from vehicle infractions, violations to skateboarders and what not," said Lt. Baron Lee of the Honolulu Police Department.

Some residents said they have sometimes taken matters into their own hands.

"If the residents come out and confront these people, get your cellphone out and take video and take pictures, they'll scatter and they'll be gone," said John Jones.

There could also be legislation in the works.

"This proposal is actually an anti-drifting type of proposal, which would impose stricter penalties on those who are otherwise identified as drifting or racing," said Honolulu City Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga.

At last check, Altman was facing a lengthy recovery with critical injuries which could end her career as a professional triathlete.

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