Is It A House Party Or Night Club?

I went to Ward’s Rafters recently. It’s at 3810 Maunaloa Ave., a quiet Kaimuki neighborhood. Jackie Ward and her son, Dr. Larry Ward, invite jazz, blues and bluegrass musicians to play to big indoor crowds Sundays on the third floor of their house, and sometimes on Fridays or Saturdays.

Therein lies the issue, and I’d never want to vote on it because it’s complicated, and I guess that’s why Ward’s Rafters is still there.

It’s sort of an earlyevening nightclub. It advertises on email. The musicians are paid by audience donations. You bring your own food and drinks. The music goes from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. There’s just one entrance/exit door, so not good if there’s a fire from the stage lights and snaking electric cords.

Neighbors tend to get in a snit. Willie Iaila’s bedrooms are 20 feet away, and he told me the noise forced his mother to move to the living room and his girlfriend to stay away. The Rafters people do ask guests to walk back to their cars without talking and no open containers of alcohol.

The Mainland visitor who invited us thought neighbor objections to pedestrian and vehicle traffic or noise were baseless. “Occasional nights for two hours, who cares?” he asked. And you do get some wonderful jam sessions on the cheap.

I tend to come down on the neighbors’ side. I live on a quiet, no-parking street. Jim Nabors is my neighbor. I’d not be happy if Jim said he was going to sing and do a Polynesian show in his yard every Sunday.

Ward’s Rafters is a great musical venue but it operates in a loophole. It’s not charging and not selling anything. It’s as if I wanted to have a huge party at my house. Only the noise laws would apply. But would my neighbors tolerate that?


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Good fun for all but the neighbors. Bob Jones photos

Iaila was videotaping comings and goings at Ward’s Rafters. He’s probably wasting his time because the issue has been extinct at the City Council for years. Maybe he could be cited as a nuisance for his junk-filled yard.

But I also sense that Ward’s Rafters is working at the questionable edge of zoning law. Nice intent, but my neighbors are unlikely to allow me to run a free concert venue here at Banyan House.

Maybe I’ll ask them tomorrow!

They’re back! The upper Kalakaua Avenue sidewalk peddlers, that is. Does the one selling surf lessons in my photo here have a city permit? Does he have a state excise tax license? Does he have any sales receipts for federal and state taxes? Does anyone ask?

And … there’s now a permanent homeless encampment in Paki Park, right by the kids’ playground equipment and next to the signs that say “no camping.”