Waikiki wall called magnet for 'bad guys' is coming down

Waikiki wall coming down after complaints it was a magnet for criminal activity

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A 3-foot tall concrete wall that snakes along Kalakaua Avenue fronting the old Waikiki 3 theater will be knocked down Thursday morning.

Police and businesses say the wall has been a magnet for criminal behavior.

"Gave the bad guys an area to hang out and they loiter and deal drugs from there," said Honolulu Police Deputy Chief John McCarthy.

The people who gathered around the wall would often harass those who walked by.

Longtime Waikiki resident Dave Moskowitz says he's been calling HPD for years to report various crimes at the wall, "Assaults, drug dealing, drinking."

And he's not the only one, after complaints from businesses and with the encouragement of the city, the property is paying to have the wall demolished.

The wall, between the sidewalk and grassy area, was put in more than a decade ago as part of a Waikiki improvement project, but the property management company says it is having the opposite effect.

"Our tenants were being assaulted, visitors that were walking by were being verbally assaulted, and it was just undesirable behavior that we couldn't monitor or take action against because of where it was located," said Stacy Philippou, Commercial Property Manager at Avalon Commercial.

Philippou says the wall is located on the city and county side of the sidewalk so their security guards couldn't enforce loitering rules, they would have to call HPD repeatedly and the people surrounding the wall would return once the officers left.

There are benches on the private property side of the sidewalk. Those are staying in because the security guards can use trespassing rules to clear them.

In an effort to curb crime in Waikiki, HPD added officers after a spike last fall.

"We have the bike patrol, the plain clothes, we shifted to night hours to address the issues," said McCarthy.  Rookie officers are also working foot patrols.

He says the additional manpower helps because police presence is a major factor in preventing crime.

The concrete wall will be taken down starting Thursday morning and should be out by the weekend.

City leaders are working to remove additional concrete walls along Kalakaua Avenue where more criminal behavior is being reported.

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