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10 p.m. Ban on Music/Entertainment Proposed for Kihei Triangle

February 27, 2012, 8:26 AM HST · Updated March 14, 4:16 PM
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South Maui Council Member Don Couch, file photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

*** An UPDATE is now posted at the following direct LINK.

A proposal that seeks to place a 10 p.m. limit on music, entertainment and dancing at the Kihei Kalama Village complex is drawing heavy discussion.

The proposal was born out of ongoing noise complaints from nearby residents dating back to 2007.

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South Maui Council Member Don Couch said the Liquor Department is “trying to walk the fine line of keeping people in business, but also keeping the public happy.”

He said, “hopefully people will come with solutions, not ‘how can you do this.’  My reaction is I would not like to see all these places close down because part of the economy is jobs and it brings in taxes, but if they aren’t going to be able to work together, then something has to be done.”

The proposed rule change has prompted an online petition that has already garnered the signatures of more than 1,200 people who have expressed opposition to the measure.

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The petition claims the proposed ban would “cost hundreds of people their jobs, have a devastating impact on Kihei’s economy, and put several local bars and restaurants out of business.”

A hearing on the item surfaces at 9 a.m. on March 14, 2012, before the Liquor Commission.

Noise Complaints Date Back 5 Years: 

“It’s not something that came out of the blue,” said Couch, who noted the issue of noise has been in the news since July of 2007, when an article was published focusing on the complaints.

At the time there were only seven licensees at the complex; now, five years later, there are 10 licensees, and the issue remains unresolved.

The noise complaints, he said, are from neighbors at both the Island Surf condominium and residents to the back of the Kihei Kalama Village Complex.

Liquor Control Department, Franklyn L. Silva, said an increase in complaints started about a year ago, with police answering numerous noise complaint calls from the surrounding neighborhood.

Couch said assaults and have gone down slightly since the owners of the properties have established better security, and more lighting in the back parking lot; but, he said, there’s “still noise and people still arguing, or talking loud at the end of the night.”

How Complaints are Handled:

File photo by Wendy Osher.

Citations can be issued for violations based on noise above a certain decibel level.

“If we have a complaint, we will contact the premises and let them know and advise them to lessen the noise,” said Silva.  “If it persists, we will go down and take a reading.  If that reading is above the allowable decibels, we will notice an issue of violation.”

Under a violation, the department can continue to monitor the area for a 30-day period, taking readings from the source of the complaint.

If noise issues persist, the item goes before the Liquor Control Adjudication Board, which can issue decisions ranging anywhere form reprimand to a $2,000 fine.

Pinpointing the Noise Source:

Since readings are taken from the location of where the complaint was filed, authorities say pinpointing the source can be difficult.

“By the time the sound gets there, they can’t tell where it’s coming from.  In that area alone, there’s 10 licenses and several of them are within feet of each other,” said Couch, who noted the high density of night-life activity in the area.

Officials say another obstacle is that while neighboring establishments can both be in compliance, a collective noise can create a sound reading that exceeds acceptable levels.

While music is a lead contributor to noise in the area, noise complaints also come from public behaviors in the parking lot.

Couch gave examples of people tearing out, spinning their wheels, shouting at each other, and fights.

“Of course the Liquor Department has no control over that, and the establishments a lot of times don’t have control over that either,” said Couch.

Potential Solutions:

Aside from the proposal to place a 10 p.m. limit on music, entertainment and dancing at the complex, other ideas have surfaced.

Couch, who received a “flood” of comments via Facebook, said he has also been reading some of the comments left in the online petition.

One of the suggestions, he said was to do what hotels do and have their own people run the sound to have better control over noise levels.  Another idea that surfaced was lowering the decibel level for individual establishments so that the collective noise would not exceed the current acceptable level.

“They are open to hearing testimony, and open to coming up with options, and they would love to have solutions, because they’re also aware that their income–the Liquor Department income–is from the licensing fees.  So, if businesses go out of business, then their income goes down too,” said Couch.

“So they’re trying to walk the fine line of keeping people in business and also keeping the public happy,” he said.

“It’s something that they’ve been trying to work on, and they’re trying to figure out a way to get everybody on board, to solve the issue together,” said Couch.

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