Seems not everyone loves every parade
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By Mary Vorsino
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer
By Mary Vorsino
In a month filled with nine parades, runs or other major gatherings in Waikiki that require street closures, some residents are asking the city to further limit events that snarl traffic.
The call comes a little more than a year since a law limiting the number of parades and other major events in Waikiki to 39 per year went into effect. The exception to the law is First Amendment parades or other events, which have no limit.
Last year, there were 44 parades, block parties, charity runs and other major events in Waikiki that required street closures, according to a city online listing of permitted events. That's lower than in 2006, when more than 60 were held.
Some are happy with the new limit. For others, it's still too many.
"You can't get out of your house" when a street is closed for a parade or other major event, said Linda Wong, a resident of Pualei Circle, who sends out a monthly e-mail to other residents listing all the street closures planned so they can try to avoid them.
Michelle Matson, a member of the Waikiki Area Residents Association and the Diamond Head/Kapahulu/St. Louis Heights Neighborhood Board, agreed the limit is still too high.
"There are some traditional parades ... that are highly valued," she said. "But they've padded those with all kinds of opportunities to parade around the streets and block the traffic."
Matson said the city should also space out street closures.
The eighth major event in Waikiki this month was held yesterday: The Salute to Youth Parade No. 2, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., closed Kalakaua Avenue. On Saturday afternoon, the Prince Kuhio Commemoration Parade will close Kalakaua Avenue again.
From January to the end of March, 12 street closures were permitted in Waikiki. Two event street closures are set for April.
"It's still too many closures. Every weekend, there's always something going on," said Waikiki Neighborhood Board member Raymond Gruntz. "They shut it down for this or that."
He and other residents were pushing to set the limit at 24 street closures a year.
But some believe the present limit is acceptable.
"I think we've found the right number," said Bob Finley, chairman of the Waikiki Neighborhood Board, adding he has not been hearing complaints from residents about parades since the new law was passed.
"We found a good compromise," he said.
City Councilman Charles Djou, whose district covers Waikiki, said he has not heard many complaints from residents since the law went into effect. "I think we've struck a balance," he said.
Djou pointed out Waikiki still has more parades and other events than any other community. And he said 39 is still a lot.
"I personally would like to have that number lower," he added.
Leimomi Khan, president of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, which puts on the Prince Kuhio Commemoration Parade set for Saturday, said she understands why residents would be concerned about the number of street closures and events.
"I can fully appreciate where they're coming from," she said.
But she added that signature events, such as the Kuhio, Kamehameha and Aloha Week parades, are traditions that people come to year after year.
"It isn't just about a parade," she said. "It tells a story."
Khan added that, perhaps to meet the concerns of residents, organizations should start looking at planning events outside of Waikiki and "then encouraging the tourists to come out."
Djou said that's already started, with more events being held elsewhere.
The parade law passed in August 2006, after two years of debate over how to limit permits for street closures while also making sure the First Amendment was not violated. In addition to residents, many businesses supported the law, saying parades and other events often hold up their deliveries — and their employees.
About 20,000 people live in Waikiki. The community also has about 30,000 workers.
Some say that tourists are also inconvenienced by the closures, especially if they have rental cars and are staying at a hotel on Kalakaua Avenue.
Bill Brennan, spokesman for the mayor, said he could not immediately say whether the city has gotten any complaints about the new law because city offices were closed yesterday.
Reach Mary Vorsino at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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