To woo customers back, city announces Chinatown beautification plan

Updated: Jun. 30, 2020 at 5:46 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mayor Kirk Caldwell wants to clean up Chinatown ― again.

On Tuesday, he announced several new initiatives to help bring people and business back to the historic neighborhood.

Along with planting trees, installing LED lights, and removing graffiti, crews will start power washing sidewalks in Chinatown from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., five days a week.

“On top of power washing our sidewalks, we’re going to be disinfecting all our bus stops in Chinatown,” said Caldwell. “That’s 50 bus stops in the district, so they’ll be cleaner and they’ll smell better.”

The overnight cleanings ― paid for with federal funding ― will also displace homeless individuals who live on the streets.

City officials hope that homeless population will seek services at the their nearby hygiene center in Iwilei.

To help address the district's trash problem, businesses that don't follow the rules and leave their garbage out on sidewalks will be warned and cited, and the city can now use videos to catch illegal dumpers.

"Now, if someone else takes a video, we can just look for a logo on the side of a vehicle or the license plate, and we can enforce on the owner of the vehicle, whether they were the ones in the vehicle or not," said Lori Kahikina, director of the city's Department of Environmental Services.

To bring business back to Chinatown, the city is launching a pilot program, similar to the open street events on Kalakaua Avenue.

On July 11, Hotel Street will be shut down from Richards Street to River Street.

"It'll be open for people to walk to ride bikes. The idea is to work with our restaurants in Chinatown who are struggling with the pandemic. Those along Hotel Street will be able to come out and actually fill up the entire sidewalk," Caldwell said.

Private security patrols will also continue through the end of the year.

Elvira Lo, president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, says business owners are optimistic about the improvements.

"They will be able to see some silver lining at the end, and restart their business and try to bring people back to Chinatown," said Lo.

The city is also working with Eddie Flores, the founder of L&L Hawaiian Barbeque, to design, build, and install an authentic Chinatown Gateway Arch near the Kekaulike Mall.

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