Street performers protest police arrests

Street performers protest police arrests
Published: Sep. 11, 2012 at 9:45 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 12, 2012 at 8:00 AM HST
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WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - When the sun goes down, dozens of street performers stake out a spot on Kalakaua Avenue. Michael Daly is one of them.

"People will give me about $40 or $50 for a portrait," he said.

By putting pencil to paper, he supplements his freelance graphic arts jobs with donations for drawings he does as a street artist. He said street performers add a vibrancy to Waikiki.

"When we're not out, it's dead," he said.

Last month Honolulu police arrested over 20 Waikiki street vendors for peddling, or specifically naming a price for goods or services. That violates a city ordinance that violates Daly's reasoning.

"I can tell you right now that I'll sell you these post cards on the street right now. And I'll name a price. I'm not interested in city ordinances that are overruled by the federal ninth circuit court," he said.

The question of how to regulate street vendors has risen again. Merchants complain of crowds, noise and unfairness.

"I do feel it a bit unfair that they can not pay any taxes, not pay any kind of a booth fees that we have," said Eric Tracy, who operates The Activities Store kiosk on Kalakaua Avenue.

"I'm behind in my taxes but I fully intend to rectify that," Daly said.

Waikiki Neighborhood Board chairman Robert Finley worries pedestrians skirting a crowd around a street performance will get hit by a car.

"Should that happen who becomes liable? The City and County of Honolulu. and by that, the taxpayer," he said.

Daly said he's also concerned about people stepping off the sidewalk and into traffic.

"It's dangerous," he said. "But all those things can be accommodated by good design and management."

Tracy has nothing against street artists but wants the city to exercise control.

"Getting a permit for X amount of dollars per year to go ahead and set up. You have a permit and you're legal," he said.

"The answer is to recognize free speech," Daly said.

Fines for breaking the city's peddling law in Waikiki start at $100, twice what Daly makes for one of his masterpieces.

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