To curb crime in Waikiki, leaders eye changes to urban landscape - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

To curb crime in Waikiki, leaders eye changes to urban landscape

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WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) -

During the day, the short walls along some of Waikiki's most heavily-trafficked promenades might seem like a nice place to enjoy a snack.

But some of the walls that line Waikiki's main drag have become a major headache for both businesses and passersby.

"These guys sleep behind them, they urinate and defecate behind them. Using syringes, smoking meth," community activist David Moskowitz said.

That's why some are pushing for all of them to be removed. The city has already started taking one out on Kalakaua Avenue near the old Waikiki 3 theater.

The idea to do away with some of the walls was suggested back in February at a neighborhood public safety conference.

"We're looking at how that can be arranged. Which walls, what makes sense," said Rick Egged, of the Waikiki Improvement Association.

Egged said he's in talks with area businesses and the city to redesign some public space in Waikiki. Many of the areas now being eyed for major changes were part of a renovation of Waikiki walkways undertaken some 14 years ago.

The district's councilman says he's on board with the idea.

"I'm going to be asking the departments to see what they need as far as resources to get them out as soon as possible," Councilman Trevor Ozawa said.

In addition, Ozawa wants to eliminate some of the publication racks and come up with a new use for pavilions in Waikiki.

"People sit on and congregate around them especially in the wee hours of the night and they become territorial and threatening to the public," he said.

The push to do away with areas where bad actors might congregate comes as police try to address a recent spike in high-profile crime in the nation's no. 1 tourist destination.

Despite safety concerns, some tourists said the removal of seating would limit the amount of time they spend on the strip.

"It's very tiring. We have two kids and they like to come here specifically to get ice cream and have something to eat so we do need a bit of a break if we're going to keep shopping," visitor Bruce Loxton said.

Ozawa said if he can get the go-ahead, additional walls could start coming down this summer.

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