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South Maui Bar Owners ‘Face the Music’

Proposal to ban entertainment in popular Kihei Kalama Village voted down during recent Liquor Commission meeting. “We will give the licensee enough time to control this issue… ”

March 22, 2012
Trisha Smith , The Maui Weekly

The grey cloud of doubt which lingered above the Kihei Kalama Village (KKV) dispersed after a proposal to ban entertainment in the late-night mecca after 10 p.m. was turned down during a recent meeting of the Maui County Liquor Commission (LC).

The proposed amendment to the rules in Section 08-101-27 was introduced on March 14 within the Department of Liquor Control Conference Room, and due to the vigilance of a variety of media outlets and social networking sites, the community and bar owners were prepared to "face the music" Wednesday morning.

"It would seem that dancing, as well as entertainment, in general, does not create noise," said Maui Commercial Realty VP Jeff Gerard in a testimony submitted on behalf of the newly formed KKV Bar Owners Association, which created an action plan to deal with noise. "It is certain music that is generated and associated with dancing and entertainment, as well as, and more often, people outside of the premises, that create noise."

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Masters of “The Triangle.” The Liquor Commission listened intently to nearly 30 testifiers during a public hearing on March 14 in Wailuku. After the board turned down a proposed rule amendment to ban entertainment after 10 p.m. in the popular nightlife mecca known as “The Triangle,” they gave the Kihei Kalama Village Bar Owners Association a trial period of six months to “get it together.” Although not mandatory, the commission suggested licensees soundproof their establishments and confine the music, and have the bar owners rather than the musicians monitor their sound systems.

Over 100 residents occupied the courtyard at 2145 Kaohu St. in Wailuku, with a majority taking a stance against the proposed ban in "The Barmuda Triangle." Nearly 30 testifiers were able to sign up prior to the scheduled 10 a.m. hearing, yet several eager voices outside were denied because the list was given to the board at 9:45 a.m. Most of them left before LC officers asked for additional testifiers much later in the afternoon.

Nine individuals testified in favor of the ban, starting with Kihei representatives from the Maui Police Department. "We've gotten noise complaints for years," said Officer Alan Brown.

Brown said police don't hold the authority to shut down the noise, and have to refer the complaints from the neighborhood to the LC enforcement section. "Over time, they quit calling us because we keep referring them to your organization to deal with it," said Brown.

LC Chairperson Robert Tanaka queried if the noise was "all music." Brown stated that he felt it came from a combination of music and loud patrons leaving the bars. "It's pretty even," said Brown, regarding the distribution of complaints.

A Halama Street resident admitted that she didn't have a problem with live music, but with the volume. "Let the music play, just let it play at a level that's reasonable," she said.

Kihei resident Michael Owens stepped to the podium with conviction, delivering testimony about his experiences living four doors down from "The Triangle." "Since January 2011, I have called Tiki Lounge 28 times, The Dog & Duck 26 times, Lulu's 15 times, Three's four times and Kahale's once," he said.

"The noise and other problems have only escalated," he continued, blaming the bar owners and the LC itself for "the mess in front of us today."

Owens admitted "reckless behavior" by the patrons also contributes to the "already out-of-control problem."

South Shore Tiki Lounge Owner Mikhail Tassi said he's regularly in contact with Owens, even giving him his personal number in order to "work with him." Tassi offered to meet with Owens to resolve issues recently, but said Owens did not concede.

"What we're doing, and need to continue to do, is work together as business owners and follow through on our action plan," said Tassi.

Residents from the Island Surf Building south of KKV said their primary concern was noise coming from Lulu's. "We've changed our windows and it doesn't help," said Donna Schleich, an area resident since 1973.

"We want the bars to stay in business, and we want to sleep at night," said Lemoine Radford, a Halama Street resident.

Jason Brown and Christy Vadala, who live directly behind KKV's south end, said they knew the neighborhood they were moving into and love being near the entertainment pulse of Maui. "The noise that comes from the obnoxious leaf blowers early in the morning and the glass bottles being recycled from the bars is much louder than any music," said Brown.

Ambrosia Martini Lounge Owner Candice Seti delivered an emotive testimony during her three minutes in front of the commission that would decide her future. "Even though Ambrosia is not a significant contributor to the noise level at Kihei Kalama Village, if this rule is implemented, Ambrosia will go out of business ," she said.

Seti help spearhead the group of KKV late-night bar owners who came together to develop the "noise monitoring action plan" they submitted to the LC. The group vows to work with property owners, Delta Security and the neighborhood to resolve the noise complaints and follow through on their proposed solutions.

The commission voted to deny the proposed ban on Wednesday, but warned the bar owners that they would revisit the issue and the amendment process in six months if noise violations occur. "We will give the licensee enough time to control this issue," said Tanaka, who seemed impressed with the action plan.

"This is a no-tolerance situation now... take it to heart," he later said, suggesting that licensees must monitor each other.

"At least for the first time you seem sincere," said LC Commissioner Merlyn Winters to the KKV bar owners. "I applaud you on that and I [wish] you well."



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