HONOLULU (KHON2) — Honolulu’s Chinatown is an important hub for merchants, but some business owners said theft and other illegal activities are still an issue despite efforts from the City to clean up the area. City officials said the improvement of Chinatown remains a priority. 

Business owners said some of the theft, drug problems and homelessness are still impacting Chinatown. Dana’s Shop employee Annette Tieu said they have experienced several theft incidents in their shop. 

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Tieu said, “We’ve personally dealt with it, with harassment; we’ve been robbed.”

Dana’s Shop inside the Maunakea Marketplace closed up early before the sun sets for their own safety. Other shops like Cindy’s Lei and Flower Shoppe keep their security cameras updated, and they look out for one another. 

Cindy Lei’s Manager Karen Lee said, “I always look to the left, look to the right across the street and then put my things down; and then I close up you always have to be aware.”

Although some merchants have noticed a difference in cleanliness and fewer people sleeping on sidewalks, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce President Jonathan Cook said more police and City clean-ups have helped. But, it remains a complex issue. 

“It’s still a good place to come down and shop during the day; that’s no problem,” Cook said. “But, I think people need to understand there’s more that needs to be cleaned up. It’s been a hard road, and we’re just not there yet.”

The City’s Department of Community Services Director Anton Krucky said they recently extended the Chinatown Task Force, which allows for more police officers to remain on a 24/7 beat. He added that this year, they will be opening transitional housing villages. 

“We got $12 million, congressionally directed dollars to do villages,” Krucky said. “We’ll be starting on them shortly. We just got the money in; and now, I am already talking. I have three sites that we’re working on actively, and each of those can be 100 beds.”

The sites include one on Middle Street, another one in Waianae and a third in Waimanalo. 

There have also been delays in installing new security cameras, but those shipments are starting to come in. 

Krucky said, “I think we got the first shipped, the seven or so that are coming; but I think there’s a much broader plan for installing cameras in town. And, I think that that will help.”

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Business owners said the Chinese New Year celebration brought out many families to a lively and safe event, which was a positive sign for many of them.