Mayor introduces new bills to tackle ‘public lodging’ and island-wide sidewalk obstructions; unveils new signage
News Release from Office of the Mayor, June 28, 2018
Kaka‘ako — Mayor Kirk Caldwell was joined today by cabinet members to discuss two new bills that will be introduced on the administration’s behalf by the Honolulu City Council (bills attached).
The “sidewalk bill” would outlaw obstructions on city sidewalks throughout the island of O‘ahu from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“Sidewalks were made for walking. Not for sleeping. Not for sitting. Not for storing your stuff,” said Mayor Caldwell. “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.”
The purpose of the sidewalk bill is to make it clear that you can’t place or do anything on a sidewalk that creates an obstruction and interferes with the flow of pedestrian traffic. The penalty would be a $100 dollar fine or a judge may sentence the violator to community service. However, there would be exceptions. For example, people waiting in line, attending a parade or festival, suffering medical emergencies, or conducting free speech activities, would be exempt.
The “public lodging bill” would make it illegal to lodge on a public sidewalk or other public areas if shelter facilities are available.
“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.
In addition, Mayor Caldwell unveiled three new signs to reinforce that the storage of personal property at bus stops, parks and other public areas is illegal.
“I think it’s terrible to pass by a bus stop and see someone sleeping or lying down and everyone else has to stand outside in the elements,” said Mayor Caldwell, “That is no longer legal, and we’ll be putting up signs at bus stops to that effect so that police can be called when someone sees this happening. Some of our parks and other public areas have been overrun by long-term campers, and these new signs will make it clear that the storage of personal property is prohibited.”
The signs state, in part, that any personal property must be removed from these areas, and if not removed within 24 hours, items will be impounded. Mayor Caldwell is making it clear that parks are designed and cared for as places for O‘ahu residents to recreate in and enjoy.
Big Q: Should homeless people be legally barred from “lodging” on Oahu sidewalks and other public sites? (Yes = 94%)
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