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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, November 29, 2001

Neighborhood board wants limits on strip clubs

By James Gonser
Urban Honolulu Writer

To reaffirm its opposition to the large number of hostess bars and strip clubs in Ala Moana and Kaka'ako, the area's neighborhood board unanimously agreed on a resolution Tuesday urging the city to pass stronger rules to limit the number of establishments and to better enforce laws.

Larry Hurst, a member of the Ala Moana/Kaka'ako Neighborhood Board, said there are more than 50 licensed hostess and strip bars within the board's boundaries, not including liquor stores and restaurants that also sell alcoholic beverages.

Since 1993, the board has asked the Liquor Commission to address problems with hostess bars and strip clubs, according to the resolution.

"The board opposes the addition of any more licenses for strip clubs, cabaret licenses, those kind of establishments in the area because we have enough," said board chairman John Breinich. "We would like to work with the mayor to eliminate some of the ones that are already here."

The resolution asks that the Liquor Commission allow no more new licenses for establishments with nudity, hostesses or that stay open until 4 a.m. and are within 500 feet of any homes, schools, parks, playgrounds or churches. It also seeks to limit bars near the Hawai'i Convention Center or near other bars or any sex-oriented entertainment businesses even if they don't sell alcohol.

"This certainly sends the message that we would like to see no new clubs, no new licenses," said Breinich, who acknowledged that the board's role is only advisory.

A city proposal that would create a special district around the Hawai'i Convention Center, evicting strip clubs, hostess bars and adult businesses from the area hit a major snag this summer when the City Council's Zoning Committee deferred action on the proposal.

The bill to establish a Hawai'i Convention Center Special District within a half-mile radius of the convention center would change the look of the area, adding landscaping, 20-foot setbacks, shade trees and more pedestrian space.

The big concern for council members, however, was that the affected adult businesses were excluded from the planning process. Harry Yee, attorney for several adult business properties, said the property owners had not been included in the process, and the economic impact had not been considered.

The bill remains in the Zoning Committee until some agreement can be reached between the city administration and the affected businesses.

The neighborhood board's resolution also asks that the transfer of liquor licenses be more closely scrutinized, that no licenses be renewed if the business has had liquor violations in the prior six months and that monitoring of bars be increased.

In the case of new license applications, a request is automatically rejected if a majority of residents living within a 500-foot radius are opposed, but the 500-foot restriction does not apply to transfer applications, which are generally granted unless opponents can show that the applicant isn't fit to run the business.

Hurst said an increase in crime and traffic accidents can be directly linked to the number or bars in the area, and the goal of the board is to make Ala Moana and Kaka'ako a better and safer community in which to live.