The other morning I was walking down Kalakaua Avenue after an early surf session and noticed something odd.
Flowers and decorative plants and ti leaves — all newly planted along the street.
I guess the naupaka wasn’t enough for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), in town for the week.
The city, it seems, has been taking major steps in beautifying downtown Honolulu and Waikiki in recent weeks, all in preparation for the leaders of APEC’s 21 economies and their massive entourages. There are new palm trees lining Nimitz Highway, cleaner streets in Waikiki and a noticeable decrease in homeless communities in the areas in and around the APEC zone.
Civil Beat’s Chad Blair shows you Honolulu before and after. (Read the story here.)
Here are my two unsolicited cents:
First, I’m annoyed that the city thinks this expensive facelift is only necessary for APEC. Never mind the 800,000 people who live on Oahu — or the thousands who live, work and play in Waikiki everyday. Why would we need a beautiful place to call home?
And secondly, I’ll take bets how long the city will let this temporary beautification project go to the wayside. We watched city workers plant lush patches of Saint Augustine grass around coconut trees and delicate decorative plants in front of waterfalls — knowing full well these adornments won’t last a month after APEC packs up and leaves.
So what’s the point?
It’s a temporary fix to a long-term problem. And don’t we, the people who actually have to live here beyond APEC, deserve a solution?
I am sure the HVB will argue that the beautification will be recouped because of all the money that will be spent in Waikiki. Maybe it will and maybe it won’t.There has been a lot of money spent over the years on Waikiki to make it one thing or another for tourists. The oldest argument is that Waikiki should be allowed to have casino gambling. Sure would save a lot of people money on air fares. But in the end you’d wind up with a bunch of broke people living around a posh central region. The Hawaii Convention center has been a disaster since it was built, a money hole, but perhaps if it starts getting a 70-80% utilization or even 40-50 it will do what it was supposed to do, bring more businesses to Oahu than what are there now. I am really shocked that there is not an effort to attract Computex or ComicCon or whatever to Hawaii. Japan is giving away 10,000 tickets. Spend 10 Million and get people to come for something like ComicCon. I bet the city easily spends that dressing the place up for dignitaries.
Waikiki could and should be so much more.
I agree, It’d be nice if the city would have the attention on beautification all the time
but bottom line, it’s all about money
It’s advertising Hawaii to the world
Gotta spend money to make money
Every Olympic city, Democratic / Republican convention, Super Bowl, etc city does it
Make your city, temporarily, as nice as possible
Honolulu does it for the Pro Bowl
Crossing fingers hoping the worldwide media coverage and hopeful good times of the dignitaries result in more tourist dollars
It’d be nice if they do it all time
but we’re at least lucky the President is from Hawaii and he remembers his roots
If all goes well, all future Apec summits will be here, irregardless if the President is from Hawaii or not
You’re right — great comparison to the Olympics. I wonder what happened to all the facilities built for the Beijing Olympics… Are they being used? I wonder.
I just want the city to KEEP IT UP. It’s sad to see these superficial beautification projects — that we pay for, by the way — go by the wayside.
you may notice it now because it’s different, but, after a month or a year or a decade, would you really notice that there are flowers on Kalakaua? the visitors won’t notice the flowers, but I’m guessing they’d notice a lack of them. happy visitors means more spending on this trip and more conferences/trade shows/etc in the future. po’d visitors to APEC means the gravy train ends and Okinawa or New Zealand may end up with our dollars.
Hello Cat, I don’t think it will be kept up for very long after APEC is done. I thought the State and City is in a huge deficit? Where did all this money all of a sudden come from? Where is the money going to come from to maintain this stuff after? All the overtime for HPD, HFD, Ambulance and so on. They go all out for APEC and don’t have money for our kids education.
This is correct. At any given time our county/city/state funds and resources are limited. It’s obvious all this beautification is for show for APEC. Anyone expecting this to last much longer beyond that is dreaming. We’re being told by government officials that this is an investment, the returns of which will be huge and long-term. Only time will tell. And exactly how anyone will be able to attribute any increased business in the near future directly to APEC will be interesting.
Yep, this all takes money. Has anyone reported on how much the city/state has shelled out for APEC? That would be an interesting figure.
Cat, I understand your annoyance. I think all of us would like to see Honolulu get this sort of aesthetic attention year round. As you know that won’t happen because it can’t. Too many other more pressing things demand the money and resources available, which isn’t much in today’s economy. The city is gambling that this face-lift and its expense pays off in the long run. I suppose we should all hope it does since the money’s already been spent.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see! 🙂
Hey Cat … at first glance, I was just as annoyed as you and everyone else seems to be …
… but after I thought about it … maybe it’s not such a bad thing …
… for one thing, we all ask where did the money for this come from??? … I don’t know … but the State always has money somewhere … for these types of things … strange that it wasn’t there to fund the pressing needs of the State … so I say, I’m glad we all see a benefit from these “hidden” funds … would we have seen this money go to good use on something else??? … ??? … or would it have gone to some special interest agenda item??? …
… the other thing is … the streets are clean and manicured … and homeless have been moved out … temporary, maybe … but action was taken … and just maybe there’s momentum to keep it going even after … am I dreaming??? … probably … but what’s the alternative … no action … overgrown or dried out planter areas … massive homeless campsites … it may have been money overspent … but do I really want it back to the way it was … errr … no … I’ll take it …
… and c’mon … how many of us have done a minor facelift on our own homes??? … when we had company coming over or staying with us … cleaned up our homes, added new or extra stuff to the decor, prepared different or pricier meals??? … I definitely have … and it all went back to “normal” afterwards …
… it’s like buying watermelon … do you always wait until it goes on sale??? … to spend your money effectively??? … or do you buy at whatever price??? … just because you crave it or you need it for a picnic or some function??? … I’d just buy it … and I enjoy it the same even though I spent more … the satisfaction remains, regardless …
… okay, maybe it’s not so much like buying watermelon … I just wanted to throw that in …
The watermelon metaphor was random — and it made me hungry! LOL
It’s no diffent from tidying up the house before guests arrive. The only difference here is that we individually didn’t invite these guests, but we pay a share of the expemse of sprucing things up.
Chalk it up to human nature and the availability of public funds.
I could do without the flora and fauna if they would just fix the damn roads!
I don’t think the point is for all the improvements to last, although it’d be a better use of the money if they did. I like the previous commenter’s insight that it’s like cleaning house before the visitors arrive. With more economic activity centralized in the Pacific region, Hawaii is in a good position to attract more visitors and business activity; so APEC is an opportunity to present ourselves in a reputable and deserving fashion. I hope it pays off. I’m thinking bigger picture and imagining our place in the world, not just our issues locally, as I deal with APEC annoyances.
Waiting for the city to re-locate the tent people on our major thoroughfare, South King Street, fronting Stadium Park. IMHO, APEC participants are more likely to see that eye-sore than Aala Park/Dillingham.
But what happens when APEC leaves? Where do the homeless go then?
When I looked in this morning’s SA, and looked at the picture of the woman walking in Waikiki with the red-white barrier next to her, I really wondered why they spend so much work and money on the beautification while nobody is going to see it when they pass by in their motorcades… it seems so useless :/