Proposal to curb crime at Waikiki pavilions gets mixed reviews

Updated: Aug. 9, 2019 at 7:11 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - To clean up the pavilions in the heart of Waikiki, the city plans on putting gates around them that would be locked at night.

The structures along Kalakaua Avenue were built decades ago to provide shade for everyone to enjoy.

But for years, they’ve attracted homeless living in the state’s no. 1 tourist destination.

The pavilions are open 21 hours a day. Under city law, the structures are closed from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m.

After years of complaints about the homeless problem in the area, Caldwell says adding gates will offer a temporary — but meaningful — fix.

“It’s not going to be 100 percent. But it’s a step in the right direction,” Caldwell said.

The gates will be installed to close the areas at night.

That’s until the city finds vendors to run concessions in the pavilions.

“That really works. If you go to that cafe, you don’t have people taking it over just to sleep on picnic tables," Caldwell said. “You have people sitting at them and eating and enjoying the great outdoors in beautiful Waikiki. We hope to see it repeated in the other pavilions.”

But some say the city should focus on helping the homeless, not pushing them away.

"I don't really think it's a good idea because that will just push them out somewhere else. Next thing you know, they're all cruising at the McDonald's right across the street,” said Vika Rosen, who works in Waikiki.

"I'm a tourist. I see a fence with a lock, I say, what is this?” said Richard, who is visiting from Florida. “It leaves a bad taste in my mouth."

The city says there’s nothing illegal about lounging. The sit-lie law doesn’t apply at the pavilions.

Meanwhile, some say if the gates are still open during the day, how much of an impact will they have?

"You could still have that issue but at least you don’t have the issue you see today where they’re in there in the middle of the night,” said Caldwell.

He added he’ll work with the community to decide what time the gates would be locked. The project is still under procurement and solicitation, so the city has no current cost estimate.

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