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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, December 13, 2001

Fines approved for false alarms

By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

O'ahu residents and businesses may face a $50 "service charge" if they have more than three false alarms to police in a year, under a bill passed unanimously yesterday by the Honolulu City Council.

The bill is designed to reduce the number of false alarms that Honolulu police respond to. Police Capt. William Chur of the Juvenile Services Division said police respond to about 33,000 false alarms every year, costing the city well over $600,000 annually. About 600 alarms a year are valid, Chur said.

The ordinance is expected to take effect in May.

Under the bill, alarm users who have a fourth false alarm within a year would pay a $50 fine or complete an alarm systems operation and maintenance educational program approved by the Honolulu chief of police. Alarm users would pay the fine for every false alarm thereafter within that 12-month period.

Police may stop responding to their alarms — except for panic, duress or holdup alarms — until alarm users pay the fine. The police may also require that the alarm system be inspected.

Alarm users would also have to obtain an initial $15 permit from the police for their alarm systems, with permits to be renewed annually for $5. Those without permits would be subject to a $100 fine.

The police must also submit a report to the city council about the new system.

Mary Paulsen of Security One Inc. said that while she believes the city needs a false-alarm ordinance, the bills has flaws and would be a burden on the public and small businesses that are struggling financially.

Police estimate the new program will need a staff of five people and will cost about $260,000 to administer. Police said there are about 25,000 alarm owners on O'ahu.

In other matters, the council:

• Approved a resolution to sell the city's lease fee interests in the remaining 84 units of the Harbor Court development complex for $12 million. AHI Harbor Limited Partnership would pay the city a $7 million down payment for the units and $5 million over the next five years with interest as units are sold.

AHI's lawyer, William McCorriston, argued against a provision added in the resolution that requires the city be paid outstanding debt before lenders in the event of a foreclosure. McCorriston said that would discourage bankers from financing the project, jeopardizing AHI's deal with the city.

The council had been set to approve an earlier draft of the resolution that put the city and lenders in a "shared first position," which would mean the city would receive one-sixth of any money if there is a default, with the third-party lender receiving the rest.

But Council member Romy Cachola introduced the floor-draft resolution that was approved yesterday, saying the earlier draft might leave the city with less than $5 million. He said the council is still committed to negotiating with AHI.

Council members Steve Holmes and John Henry Felix opposed the amended resolution, saying the city was already in a secure position to recover the $5 million under the previous resolution.

• Advanced a bill to ban smoking in restaurants except for the restaurants' outside areas. The council passed the bill on first reading, sending it to the Committee on Planning and Public Safety for further review. Council members John DeSoto and Rene Mansho objected to advancing the bill.

Proponents of the bill said it was necessary to protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke and asked that outside smoking areas be sufficiently separated from inside areas. Opponents called the bill frivolous and worried it would hurt the restaurant industry.

Reach Lynda Arakawa at larakawa@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8070.