The Honolulu City Council’s Zoning and Housing Committee approved a bill Thursday that would create a privately run special improvement district to regulate traffic on Waikiki streets.

There is a glut of tourists, cars, delivery trucks and tour buses in the area. The Waikiki Transportation Management Association would have the authority to create rules, construct sidewalks and parking lots and increase police presence.

“Any guidelines that this entity adopts is going to affect all businesses in Waikiki,” said Francis Choe, a spokesman for Councilman Trevor Ozawa.

Kalakaua Avenue snarled with delivery trucks and traffic in the morning.
Kalakaua Avenue is often snarled with delivery trucks and other traffic. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Ozawa, who represents Waikiki, introduced the bill. He was not available for comment Thursday.

No tax dollars are included in the district’s proposed budget of $100,000 in 2018. Instead, revenues would come from money donated mostly by transportation companies.

However, the association would be allowed to accept donations from government sources.

The area affected would include Waikiki from the Ala Wai Canal to the ocean, and south to Kapahulu Avenue. For many who drive for Honolulu’s delivery and tour bus companies, the Waikiki route is the most difficult.

“It’s really busy and you have a lot of tourists,” said Angelica Keene, the general manager for meat and seafood distribution company Eskimo Candy, which delivers to restaurants around Oahu.

Some blocks don’t have loading zones, so delivery trucks must stop to unload on the street. Police serve warnings to drivers who block traffic, but Keene said the officers also acknowledge that drivers sometimes have no choice.

“They know loading zones are pretty tight and it’s hard to deliver in those areas,” Keene said.

Rick Egged, president of the Waikiki Improvement Association, helped draft the bill. He said the new district would implement fees for loading and unloading in Wakiki, create schedules for loading zones and hire special duty police officers to increase enforcement.

“The idea is to put together a group that can work on transportation issues and propose solutions and make changes,” Egged said. “Then we will raise our own money so we can execute those changes faster than it would be to go through the city process.”

Although only about 20,000 people live there, thousands of tourists fill Waikiki’s sidewalks every day. Noelle Fujii/Civil Beat

Egged said a “core group” of transportation businesses have agreed to fund the association and take part in creating the policies. That group includes Hawaii Transportation Association, Roberts Hawaii, E Noa Tours, Polynesian Adventure Tours, Polynesian Hospitality, TP Transportation, and Royal Star Hawaii, he said.

Members of the association would include representatives from freight carriers, tour bus companies, property owners and business owners in the area, Egged said.

The association would charge a membership fee, and members would elect a board of up to 26 people. They would serve three-year terms, and four board members would be government representatives.

The board would host public meetings, Egged said, but he added that the meetings and board actions would not be subject to the sunshine law’s stipulations for government meetings.

The bill does not clearly define the extent of the group’s authority. If the City Council passes the bill and the mayor signs it, the association will have to create its own bylaws which also would require council approval.

The bylaws will spell out the power and scope of the association,” Choe said. “The structure of the organization is all up in the air until they formulate and adopt bylaws that outline how they’re going to be organized.”

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