Three months after Maui's liquor commissioners tossed a plan to shut down late-night entertainment in the Kihei Kalama Village, the department says it's seeing positive changes.
"It's starting to improve - slowly," said Bill Pacheco, chief enforcement officer for the county's Department of Liquor Control.
The Liquor Control Commission in March rejected a proposal that would have banned music and entertainment after 10 p.m. at the center, following numerous complaints of noise and fights from neighboring residents and police.
Some tenants in the Kihei Kalama Village say the closing of Lulu’s in mid-June has helped to keep noise complaints down.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
The center, commonly called the Triangle, is home to more than a half-dozen bars and restaurants with liquor licenses.
"That's the problem - there are so many licensees in such a small area that people complaining can't tell which bars are making the noise," said Traci Fujita Villarosa, deputy director of the Department of Liquor Control. "One way the commission was considering to ease the complaints was stopping entertainment at a certain time."
The commission instead opted in March to give Triangle businesses six months to make improvements and comply with noise restrictions. In the meantime, the commission called for monthly reports from enforcement officers, complete with sound tests and site visits.
"We'll revisit this in September and decide whether to place stipulations or conditions," Commission Chairman James Gomes said.
Pacheco said two out of three sound tests in June resulted in no noise violations. The 20-minute tests were taken near the Island Surf condominium, where most of the complaints have come from.
Businesses in the complex and the center's management say they've also seen improvements, especially since the recent closing of Lulu's in mid-June.
"I think Lulu's was the source of probably 90 percent of the complaints. Once they shut down, the complaints have gone away," said Dan Beaudry, a manager at Life's a Beach in the center, which offers karaoke three nights a week and live music the rest of the week.
"Fights have decreased, too," he said. "Anytime you have less business, it lowers the amount of people in the Triangle and lowers the chances for fights."
The center's management said the types of complaints from neighbors now seem to be focusing more on routine noises, which he takes as a good sign.
"The bars are doing everything in their power to turn this around and work with the neighbors," said Jeff Garard, a vice president with MW Commercial Realty, which owns and manages Kihei Kalama Village.
"The feedback now seems to be small things, like dumping bottles at night . . . or leaf blowers from washing down decks. It seems the issues aren't the loud noises and fights from before. For us, it's a good sign."
Three's Bar & Grill co-owner Cody Christopher said he's also seeing improvements.
"We definitely have noticed everybody kind of doing their part within Kalama Village," he said.
The restaurant offers background music during dinner six to seven days a week, as well as late-night entertainment Thursdays through Saturdays, and a blues night on Wednesdays.
"If someone reaches out to us and tells us there's a problem, we'll be all over it," Christopher said. "We are a business, but we definitely want our neighbors to be happy and be able to sleep."
* Nanea Kalani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.