Oct. 11, 2018 is Honolulu Age Friendly City Day

Oct. 11, 2018 is Honolulu Age Friendly City Day
Caldwell signs bills to keep homeless from blocking sidewalks
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The mayor signed two bills into law Thursday that ban the homeless from sleeping or living on public sidewalks, but neither take effect right away.

Thats because the City Council is requiring that the city first complete a report detailing how the city plans to tackle the homeless crisis.

That caveat has angered Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who said Thursday that signing the bills into law without being able to implement them is not taking action.

Theyre the latest in a number of laws that the mayor has said are part of the citys policy of compassionate disruption — aimed at pushing homeless people out of public spaces and into shelters.

Some advocates for the homeless have argued such efforts are actually counter-productive because they make it harder to work with chronically homeless people to convince them to get off the streets.

Council members said the requirement that the city first provide a report on its homelessness efforts before the two laws go into effect isnt about delaying implementation, but ensuring efforts that are already underway are having an impact.

Once the city submits its plan, the council must still approve it before the sidewalk laws go into effect.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed into law today two bills that would ban obstructing and “lodging” on Oahu sidewalks.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed into law today two bills that would ban obstructing and “lodging” on Oahu sidewalks.

Caldwell and supporters say the new laws are designed to keep sidewalks clear for pedestrians, but opponents argue that their main goal is to punish the homeless for not having a roof over their heads.

The American Civil Liberties Union Hawaii chapter has warned repeatedly that the bills are unconstitutional, suggesting that they may mount a legal challenge to block them from being enforced.

Both proposals were approved by the Honolulu City Council 6-3 on Oct. 3, with Ikaika Anderson, Brandon Elefante and Joey Manahan voting “no.”

Bill 51 makes it illegal between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. to “create, cause or maintain” an obstruction on a public sidewalk if it blocks pedestrians from passing freely. The measure applies to anyone who obstructs the sidewalk, including vendors who operate mobile kiosks. Violators could be subject to fines of up to $100.

Bill 52 makes it a petty misdemeanor “to lodge” on a sidewalk or other public places. It defines “to lodge” as “to occupy a place temporarily; to sleep; to come to rest and refuse to vacate” a public place. A police officer issuing a citation must first verify there is shelter space available within a reasonable distance and then offer to take the person being cited to the shelter.

Caldwell had raised concerns with a stipulation inserted into both bills by Council members requiring that his administration first submit a report updating them on the city’s initiatives to combat homelessness, and then have the Council approve the report, before enforcement of the new laws can take effect.

Caldwell said even when his Department of Community Services submits the report — which is expected to occur in the coming days — it will take time for the Council to approve it via resolution, delaying implementation of the new laws.

Posted in Honolulu