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ala wai canal 1920 to 1928

Photo by Richard Ambo, Honolulu Advertiser

Workers from the city Department of Enterprise Services cut a chain used by longtime beachgoers to hang their belongings. Regulars at Kuhio Beach say they're upset by the city's action. For decades, dozens of old-timers have passed the time sitting in chairs along Kuhio Beach, watching the waves, talking story or surfing, sometimes playing music. They've been there so long that they have become part of the atmosphere that defines the historic stretch of beach along Kalakaua Avenue. But yesterday the city began enforcing a rule that prevents them from storing their chairs or any belongings at the beach, which traditionally have been stored overnight chained to the surfboard lockers or alongside the concession stand. They also can't hang their bags and backpacks on chains draping from the wall of the concession stand, as they have for as long as they can remember.

"It's so stupid," said Judy Bell, 55, who was born and raised in Waikiki and has surfed there for more than 40 years. "If they're going to clean up the chairs, they should clean up everything ... Where are we supposed to go after this? There's no place to go.

 

 

By noon, city workers had taken away the plastic lawn chairs — some with names written on them — while dozens of old-timers and fellow surfers protested. Holding signs that read, "Unfair to locals," "Leave us alone" and "You take our view, our chairs, our backpacks but not our souls," they protested the city's taking away what they say is their way of life.

"I'm upset because a lot of us come to surf here. There's no parking nearby, no place to store our bags, no place to sit down in the shade," said Suzanne Walker, 51, from St. Louis Heights, who has been surfing every day for the past four years at the spot known as Queen's. "They're disbanding this ohana." Police at the Waikiki substation said there haven't been any complaints about the people who hang out near the concession stand. Not everyone was unhappy at the city's action. Some beach vendors, who pay to rent space on the beach, said some of the regulars were conducting surfing lessons and taking away business. The regulars say they will take up the issue with the City Council, mayor and governor. Cowboy Rosa has surfed Waikiki for 40 years. Now retired, he has spent nearly every morning at the beach, sitting in his plastic chair out of the heat. "I relax, talk to people, just take it easy," said Rosa, 67. "Looks like (the city officials) don't care about us. There's so much other things to worry about. It's a shame." Watching city workers cut the chains and walk off with stacks of chairs, Dino Miranda shook his head. "It's so weird," said the professional longboarder from the North Shore, who was once a regular at Queen's. "This is a public place. These are public people. Why all of this?"

Source: "City crackdown upsets old-timers" by Catherine E. Toth, Honolulu Advertiser: Wednesday, July 30, 2003