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Street Performers in Waikiki

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Street performers in Waikiki need help.

In 2000 the City Council of Honolulu put together Ordinance 00-88 that would have banned street performers on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki. Along with the ACLU and private attorneys, the bill was soundly defeated in the courts at great cost the city, (est. $250,00). Now, they have resurrected Ordinance 00-88 and with a narrow focus, Bill 71 will try again, to severely restrict street performers in Waikiki.

I'm against Bill 71 therefore, the following will reflect that opinion.

This is not written to cause arguments or to bring up all the pros and cons of street performers. It goes without saying, many here do not like street performers and wish them to be gone. Everyone will have an opinion. My only hope is to search out and inform supporters of street performing.

Citing a study commissioned by the Waikiki Business Improvement District Association and conducted by the University of Hawaii that claims street performers are a danger to pedestrian safety on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki, the city council crafted Bill 71 to protect public safety, citing the performers cause congestion and force pedestrian out into the oncoming traffic.

Even thou the council has previously made huge efforts to ban street performers on Kalakaua using the same reasoning as public safety - a reasoning the courts have rejected - and the Honolulu police chief verified there has never been an accident brought on by a street performers presence, the council denies repeatedly that Bill 71 is a thinly veiled proposal that opens the door to the eventual ban on street performances in Waikiki

Others disagree, stating that in addition to severely restricting the times and locations people can performer on Kalakaua Avenue, the bill has taken on the appearance that council members took a walk down Kalakaua one evening and wrote items into the bill that would put some restriction on every single performer on the street.

For example, one part of the bill totally bans toy guns. Even thou toy guns are legal, easily purchase at stores like Wal-Mart in Honolulu and as of December 22, toy guns will be allowed in the cabin of airplanes, toy guns will not be allowed in performances on Kalakaua.

We’ve all seen the ubiquitous Cowboy living statues performing gun spinning to entertain the public. Gun spinning is a sport in the United States and enjoyed by all members of the family. Even so, if bill 71 passes, you’ll be able to walk down Kalakaua carrying a toy gun – and bring one on the airplane - but not watch someone performing with one.

In addition, many say the study is flawed, due to the beginning presumption that people want to get from point A to B as quickly as possible, and listing congested areas where performers are never present. The study sites bottlenecks, but fails to distinguish between areas that are have only 3 feet of pedestrian walking space - due to poor city planning – and are free of street performers

Anyone who has taken a stroll on the north side of Kalakaua during the evening will know that Kalakaua is more of a board walk then a main street to the train station at 5.00 PM.

In Waikiki, there are few places where visitors have chosen to congregate during their evenings. With Kuhio Avenue filled with prostitutes and unsavory characters, along with the mega malls, the north side of Kalakaua seems to be the place to be. The south side is practically void of walker, and you can assume the reason is the lack of entertainment. Regardless, few are worried about how fast they can get down Kalakaua in the evening. Rather, you’ll find people walking back and forth on the north side of Kalakaua several times during the night enjoying the shows.

Many people have weighed in on the merits of Bill 71. Letters from businesses reflected the University of Hawaii study of the dangers the street performers present for public safety. Others are overwhelmingly in support of street performances in Waikiki and have questioned the logic behind allowing prostitutes to roam freely on Kalakaua, often in sight of the Honolulu Police, and allowing the continued violence on Kuhio Avenue, and instead focusing on the yet undeveloped and un-established danger presented by street performers.

Locals have enthusiastically written to the city council, saying how much they appreciate the ambiance and have enjoyed watching the entertainment on Kalakaua Avenue and judging from the huge crowds of visitor with happy faces that have gathered through out the 20 years the street performers have been in Waikiki, we know many here feel the same way. We ask you to write the Honolulu City Council and voice your opposition to Bill 71. Your voice will be heard.


Honolulu City Council members

Todd K. Apo
808. 547. 7001

Donovan M. Dela Cruz
808. 547. 7002

Barbara Marshall
808. 547. 7003

Charles K. Djou
808. 547. 7004

Ann H. Kobayashi
808. 547. 7005

Rod Tam
808. 547. 7006

Romy M. Cachola
808. 547. 7007

Gary H. Okino
808. 547. 7008

Nestor R. Garcia
808. 547. 7009

A goggle “Waikiki Street performers” search will turn up many links. Below are some other links to sources for the stuff above.

For anyone that would like to review the full history of street performers in Waikiki:
http://communityartsadvocates.org/saawaikiki.html - scroll down a bit

and in the United States, same link as above, scroll down more.

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