Mayor tells Chinatown he’s got a big ‘to do’ list for the area

Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 12:21 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi told Chinatown businesses and residents that his administration will continue work against homelessness and crime in the area.

Blangiardi spoke Thursday night at the Downtown-Chinatown Neighborhood Board meeting. Board members and others said it’s the first time any Honolulu mayor has done so.

The mayor first took issue with some recent media articles, in which Chinatown residents and business owners expressed frustration with increasing problems with drugs, homeless people and crime.

There was also frustration that enough wasn’t being done since he took office.

“If your hopes have dimmed in four months, I’m sorry, OK? But we’re off to a very fast start and we’ve taken a lot all at one time,” he told the gathering.

A few residents of the beleaguered community were able to question him directly.

“The biggest problem I think that Chinatown faces is the homelessness and slop in the streets,” said a man who identified himself as Andrew.

“So what is your approach? How do you deal with a humanitarian crisis, but also the crisis of our community being ripped apart by this homelessness problem?”

“A core outreach and providing services — and some tough love, because that’s what has to happen,” Blangiardi responded.

The mayor also had a long “to-do” list, which was distributed to attendees.

They include future projects to have more security cameras, improve parks and have more community walks. His administration is also in continued negotiations to have the River of Life Mission move its homeless feeding services out of Chinatown.

“They’re in the same position that we are, they would like to move their public feeding service to Iwilei from Chinatown, and we hope to deliver that to the community as soon as possible,” city Managing Director Mike Formby told the gathering. “We’re committed.”

Some came to the meeting to get the mayor’s ear.

“He’s really heard our cries for help, which is so refreshing because the last four years have been trying to get the administration to understand and even acknowledge that this community was in pain,” said Fran Butera of the website Chinatown Watch.

Blangiardi promised that his first appearance before the neighborhood board won’t be his last.

“I’m here tonight to let you know that we stand by our words, and while this may be my first time talking to this group, I hope its the first of many times, and you can hold us accountable.”

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