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New Bills Aim to Address Homeless on Sidewalks

June 29, 2018, 9:53 AM HST · Updated June 29, 9:53 AM
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Mayor Caldwell with cabinet members held a press conference announcing their support of the bills.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is backing a sidewalk bill and a public lodging bill that are being introduced on the administration’s behalf.

The measures, if approved, would expand the sit-lie ban on Oʻahu to deal with homeless setting up camp on sidewalks.

The sidewalk measure would outlaw obstructions on city sidewalks throughout the island of Oahu between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Mayor Caldwell said, “Sidewalks were made for walking. Not for sleeping. Not for sitting. Not for storing your stuff.  It troubles me to see people, especially the elderly, or kids, have to walk in the street because they are trying to avoid someone sitting, or sleeping, or blocking the sidewalk.”

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Violators would be fined $100 dollars or a judge may sentence them to community service.

People waiting in line, attending a parade or festival, suffering medical emergencies, or conducting free speech activities, would be exempt.

The public lodging measure would make it illegal to lodge on a public sidewalk or other public areas if shelter facilities are available.

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“Living on the streets should not be allowed. It’s not humane and it’s not safe for anyone,” said Mayor Caldwell. “We have found that getting chronic homeless individuals to agree to go into shelter is very difficult. There are various reasons why that is, but one of them is they don’t want to abide by shelter rules and regulations. The purpose of this bill is to make it against the law to lodge on a public sidewalk or other public area.”

Police officers would not be able to make an arrest or issue a citation unless they have verified that shelter space is available, and have gone through a number of steps, including but not limited to, orally requesting the person to comply with their requests to move from a public area, and issuing a written warning. If the person refuses to be transported to an available shelter, the officer would allow at least one hour for the person to relocate to a non-public area.

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