Maui Discussion

Ask the Mayor: Is Roadside Panhandling Legal?

July 2, 2017, 12:00 PM HST
* Updated July 3, 9:37 AM
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Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the questions submitted to his staff.

Submit your own questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa at [email protected], 270-7855 or mail them to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793.

Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column.

Mayor,

Q: There are a number of people—they all look like newcomers—who stand by the roadsides with signs asking for money.

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Some of my friends have actually seen these people get into nice cars after they’re done “begging” and one friend saw the same guy cleaned up with a nice aloha shirt putting gas in a car that was nicer than my friend’s!

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There’s been a woman with a sign asking for money by the intersection of Ka‘ahumanu Avenue and Beach Road, and yesterday a guy was sitting with a sign right by the Wailuku Bridge on the fire station side; their presence is distracting and I’m wondering if it’s even legal for them to be there.

A: Hawai‘i state law does not restrict panhandling and free speech laws actually protect a person’s right to do so; however, according to our County Code 12.42.030 (“Regulation of signs”), they must refrain from creating a safety hazard by holding a sign on a median strip of a divided highway, on a traffic island, or on a pedestrian or vehicular overpass structure which crosses above or adjacent to any highway.

They also must not display a sign in such a way that it hides from view or interferes with the effectiveness of an official traffic-control device, impedes the vision of drivers or pedestrians on a street, road, or highway by using foils, reflective surfaces, mirrors, or similar light reflecting materials, or by displaying a sign on or adjacent to any street, road, or highway that resembles an official traffic control device, signal or sign, bearing words, symbols, characters, color and/or shape in such a manner as to interfere with, mislead, or confuse pedestrian or vehicular traffic.

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