WAILUKU - With reports showing a decrease in complaints and noise levels from bars at Kihei Kalama Village, the Maui County Liquor Control Commission voted Wednesday to take no action on a proposal to ban late-night music, dancing and entertainment at the Kihei complex.
By filing the proposal, which stemmed from numerous police and neighbor complaints about noise and fights at the complex containing more than six bars, the commission will rely on self-regulation by the bars and their newly formed association.
"We're very, very pleased," said Candice Seti, Kihei Kalama Village Bar Owners Association chairwoman, after the commission meeting Wednesday. "I feel like all of our efforts have paid off. They're now giving us the freedom to police ourselves. We have a strong system in place to do so."
The association includes the six bars, including Ambrosia owned by Seti, that are open after 10 p.m. at the complex also known as the Triangle.
During the past six months, Seti said the association has worked to implement a noise-monitoring plan with consequences for noise violations.
For a first violation, the bar cannot have a band, musician or disc jockey after 10 p.m. on the same night the following week, according to an association report to the commission. Since March, when Delta Executive Security gave 24 warnings to bars and 15 neighbor complaints about noise were logged, both numbers have declined, according to the association.
Two warnings and two complaints were reported in August, the association reported.
"Since implementing this plan, noise complaints from neighbors and individual bars' noise levels have both gone down consistently each month," Seti said. "The improvements have been quite significant as many neighbors that were previous complainants are now supportive of our efforts, recognizing our improvements.
"We are very proud of the work we have done to keep our noise levels in check and ultimately ensure a positive and strong relationship with our neighboring community."
At Wednesday's meeting, Kihei resident Keri Mehling said she at first strongly supported the proposal to ban music, dancing and entertainment after 10 p.m. at Kihei Kalama Village.
Even though she lives more than 500 feet away, she said she used to hear music late into the night from bars at the complex.
After the association was formed and residents were given phone numbers to report problems, Mehling said, she called security once to complain about noise and got an immediate response. "I got a report the next day and understood what had happened," she said. "Someone had been cited for being too loud.
"Since that time, the only time I've heard the Kalama Village area has been on really, really still nights. I'm very happy with what Kalama Village has done."
A report from the Department of Liquor Control Enforcement Division, which had been monitoring activity of the complex's bars, included the results of sound studies carried out from 12:15 to 12:35 a.m. Sept. 1 and from 12:22 to 12:42 a.m. Sept. 2. During the 20-minute period for each study, noise from the bars didn't exceed the maximum permissible sound levels, according to the report.
Commission Vice Chairwoman Monica Revells asked about a portion of the enforcement report that a South Shore Tiki Lounge owner appeared to be intoxicated in the bar at 1:30 a.m. Aug. 12 and became disorderly, causing a liquor control inspector to call police for assistance. When police arrived at about 1:45 a.m., officers had trouble getting into the bar because people were loitering and a "party bus" was parked in front of a bar, according to the report. The short tour bus, modified with disco lights and a sound system, included a stripper pole and had liquor served aboard, the liquor control inspector was told.
Davilyn Alvarado, security chief for Delta Executive Security, said that was the first and only time the bus has been on the property. Because of the noise, she said the bus was asked to leave, which it did once everyone was aboard.
Seti said the noise that night wasn't above acceptable levels.
Commissioner Neldon Mamuad made the motion to file or take no action on the proposed entertainment ban, saying he had seen improvements during visits to the complex. He said the closing of Lulu's bar, which had generated many of the noise complaints, and the formation of the bar association were reasons for the changes.
"I have witnessed with my own eyes the improvement of the area," Mamuad said. "I'm satisfied with the improvements."
Commissioner Lee Ohigashi, who also voted Wednesday to take no action on the proposed ban, said "it doesn't necessarily mean proposed rules cannot be placed on the agenda and requested again."
"It's incumbent on the association and members to keep the complaints down," Ohigashi said.
Franklyn Silva, director of the Department of Liquor Control, said liquor control officers will still respond to complaints but won't be making the periodic checks at the complex that the commission requested while the proposed ban was pending.
Commission Chairman James Gomes and Commissioners Henry Kauka Jr., Zachary Paz and Frank Sylva supported the move to take no action on the ban, while Revells voted no.
Commissioners William Kennison and Mary-Doreen Alborano weren't present at the meeting.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.