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BRIEF

 


WAIKIKI'S FAMOUS ENTERTAINMENT ZONE USED BY ORGANIZATIONS, STREET ARTISTS AND PRACTITIONERS IS UNDER ATTACK

PUBLIC FORUM LAWS THAT PROTECT PLACES OF FREE SPEECH AND THE PUBLIC DOMAIN ITSELF ARE BEING COMPROMISED BY A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR ‘STREETSCAPE’ PROJECT WITHOUT LAWMAKER AND TAXPAYER KNOWLEDGE

During the previous Administration, Honolulu City partnered with Waikiki private developers in the joint Kalakaua Avenue Sidewalk Streetscape Project. This will tear up pavement tiles on the main tourist walk of Waikiki and eliminate the Public Forum established for public benefit. The budget item that was approved last year didn't reveal any true aspects of the project even to Council Members.
Developers behind the scenes involved with local private business advocates: Waikiki Improvement Association and Waikiki Business Improvement District are driving the streetscape project. The Honolulu council district representative agency, Waikiki Neighbourhood Board has never been consulted.

The plan will install continuous and permanent planter boxes, irrigation and landscaping. It directly targets independent artists and many others who gather on the makua side (inland) of the avenue to entertain and engage visitors. The artists and community were not made aware of the project which is said to have been designed in consultation with stakeholder developers.

Phase One will cost $25 million - considereda a waste of money. (Update 03-03-11: the amount was calculated from the figures presented by Greg Hee, Department of Design and Construction in September, 2011. According to the council website the project cost has decreased and the extent of the work increased. We are seeking clarification). Selected artists and exhibitors are routinely harassed by police; arrested, handcuffed, fingerprinted and even strip-searched. Rather than being welcomed as a valuable asset to the visitor industry and local economy they are humiliated and discriminated against by corporate developers who lobby the city.

November 10, 2010



SAVE WAIKIKI SIDEWALK - IN BRIEF

WAIKIKI, one of the world’s most favoured visitor destinations is home to a multitude of street performers, artists and public voices gathering on Kalakaua Avenue sidewalk every night. 

This sidewalk zone provides colour, celebration, education and interest for thousands of tourists and locals who stop by and often give money freely to the street exhibitors.
But city Project #1995515 Kalakaua Avenue Sidewalk Streescape Project plans to bulldoze that section of the sidewalk commencing in March 2011.  The city, together with private property owners, will install garden planters and trees as part of a streetscape plan costing approx $25 million for Phase 1 and could cost $100 million when complete.

Despite city purposes for beautification, this is an attempt to close down the expressive qualities of the public’s right to free speech and eliminate street exhibitors who often represent an independent and valuable voice. They add to the economy yet suffer repeated and degrading harassment by city police.
Beginning back in 2009, the project has been escorted through un-noticed infrastructure items using the Highway Improvement Bond Fund. But this is hardly like a routine fixing potholes or repairing sidewalk tiles; the issues demand a public process.  Yet, the first $200,000 has been spent in design costs to R.W. Towill without the apparent notice of the Honolulu Mayor and Council members let alone the taxpayer and public stakeholders most impacted by the project.

ILLEGAL
In July 2001 the District Attorney of Clark County (Nevada), an association of hospitality Unions, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the American Civil Liberties Union set a federal court case against Venetian Casino Resort. The Ninth Circuit federal court found that the resort had unlawfully confiscated the sidewalk during construction.  It ruled that the resort must “replace” such public forum as protected in the First Amendment. 

Similarly Waikiki sidewalk has a well-established “Public Forum” that cannot be diminished; the city and developers face liability.

The Honolulu council district representative agency, Waikiki Neighbourhood Board has never been consulted. Waikiki Improvement Association and the Waikiki Business Improvement District are driving the streetscape project.  Both of these groups represent private corporate interests, in underhandedly and gradually stealing away the public’s most valuable property, the sidewalk and the right to speak.

November 10, 2010