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City Council recommends purchase of Waikiki road amid safety hazards

(Hawaii News Now)
Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 6:45 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu City Council voted Tuesday to recommend the city buy a street in Waikiki where residents say the private owner is putting drivers and children in danger.

Leahi Avenue in the Diamond Head area runs along homes, apartments and Waikiki Elementary School.

The prior owner of the roadway had transferred ownership to Mary Jones, a resident in the area. She has since made multiple changes to the street, including paid parking and turning it into a one-lane road to deter speeding.

Following the changes, many residents said the so-called improvements are safety hazards, creating more harm than good.

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Council Chair Tommy Waters said he wants the city to buy the road.

“To me, the simplest way is for us to simply condemn it now. It’s our road and we are required to make it safe,” said Council Chair Tommy Waters. “We have to worry about stuff like that, we can’t just take it for granted, that’s what’s been happening for years — Leahi Avenue been taken for granted.”

However, some officials said purchasing the street would set a bad precedent.

“It’s a small area, it’s a small strip of street, but it has policy implications for the rest of the island as well,” said Honolulu Transportation Director Roger Morton. “We are not ready to say we would take a street gifted to the city unless it was brought up to our standards.”

One big issue is whether the owner will profit from the sale. Jones said she only paid $10 to the trust, which no longer wanted responsibility.

The final decision of whether the city will purchase the street is now up to the Honolulu mayor’s administration.

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