HONOLULU (KHON2) — Honolulu’s Chinatown is an important hub for businessmen, but some business owners say theft and other illegal activity remains a problem despite city efforts to clean up the area. City officials say Chinatown improvements remain a top priority.
Business owners say some theft, drug problems and homelessness are still affecting Chinatown. Dana’s Shop employee Annette Tieu said there have been several thefts at their store.
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“We’ve dealt with it ourselves, harassment; we’ve been robbed,” Tieu said.
For safety reasons, Dana’s Shop in the Maunakea Market closes before sunset. Other stores like Cindy’s Lei and Flower Shoppe keep updating their security cameras, and they keep an eye on each other.
Li Jialun, Cindy Lei’s agent, said: “I always look left, look right across the road, and then put things down; then I close the door, you have to pay attention at all times.”
While some businesses have noticed a difference in cleanliness and fewer people sleeping on sidewalks, Jonathan Cook, president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, said more police and city cleaning have helped. However, this remains a complex issue.
“It’s still a great place to come down and shop during the day; that’s no problem,” Cook said. “However, I think people need to understand that there’s more to clean up. It’s a hard road, we’re just not there yet.”
Anton Krucky, the city’s director of community services, said they recently expanded the Chinatown task force, which has allowed more officers to remain on the job 24/7. This year, they will open a transitional housing village, he added.
“We got $12 million, Congressional funding, to build the village,” Crookie said. “We’ll start using them very soon. We just got the money; now, I’m talking. I have three sites that are actively being developed, each with 100 beds.”
The locations include one on Middle Street, another in Waianae and a third in Waimanalo.
There have also been delays in installing new security cameras, but those shipments are starting to arrive.
Krucky said, “I think we’ve already shipped, and about seven are coming; but I think there’s a broader plan to have cameras in town. And, I think it’s going to help.”
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Business owners said the Chinese New Year festivities brought families together in a lively and safe event, a positive sign for many of them.