Mayor Peter Carlisle and the Lions Clubs of Hawaii, a nonprofit organization, were out patching sidewalks April 28 in Chinatown, beginning with a ceremonial patch in front of 1660 Smith St. Throughout the rest of the morning the Lion’s Club teamed with the city’s Department of Facility Maintenance, which provided the supplies for the work, to fill sidewalk holes along Maunakea, Nuuanu and the rest of Smith Street.
It wasn’t coincidental that the mayor gathered the press and their cameras in front of 1660 Smith St. to commence the Safe Sidewalks Project, according to Otto of Otto Cake, which is housed at that very address. “They called me Wednesday [April 25] to let me know they would be here doing this,” said Otto. “Funny thing is, just before they all showed up, the drug dealers were out here on the streets, as usual.” (One such person attacked Otto just last month, then in a sudden turn of events, Chinatown police nearly placed victim Otto under arrest.)
Even more disconcerting, Otto declares the same man who attacked him a few weeks back lunged at one of his customers just last week. “It was bad when it was just me I had to worry about, but now it’s my customers they’re going after,” Otto says.
Carlisle, who denied the gesture was related to anything more than “basic fundamental public safety,” paralleled fixing Chinatown’s infrastructure with the Broken Windows Theory. “This is sort of taking a look at the quality of life, making it safer for people,” he said. “And that has had its benefits, as we know, because of the idea you leave one window broken, two days later all the windows around it are broken too.”
The city’s sidewalk project recommences in collaboration with the Lions in Waikiki on June 30.