Saturday, August 29, 2015         

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Sidewalk-blocking law signed; enforcement up to a year away

Marking the affected areas, putting up signs and finding funds will have to come first

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


Mayor Peter Carlisle signed a bill yesterday that bars tents and other large objects that block city sidewalks in urban Honolulu during daylight hours.

But it could be up to a year until police can enforce the law, and it would apply to only about 25 blocks initially, Carlisle said.

The law is aimed at clearing sidewalks for pedestrians and was driven by complaints about homeless people and their living spaces crowding out other people.

"There are resource constraints that limit our ability to implement this bill all at once," the mayor said.

To ensure the law is "enforceable and defensible," the city needs to mark sidewalks and post signs, Carlisle said. The police department previously expressed concerns about enforceability, noting it wants clearly defined "pedestrian use zones" as described in the bill.

The new law will also require funds to impound any seized property and store it, he said, but the law doesn't provide any.

The city estimates it would be able to do the first 25 blocks in the first year for about $244,000, Carlisle said.

The law is patterned after one recently adopted in Portland, Ore., which is also in the process of putting up markings and signs.

The law will be applied in the Ala Moana-Kakaako, downtown, Kalihi and McCully-Moiliili- Makiki districts from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, and in Waikiki from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Implementation will be on a block-by-block basis based on priority, he said.

The first 25 blocks will include "some areas where there's been complaints, I know it's going to be in some areas ... heavily used by pedestrians," he said. "How long it's going to take to roll out is something we're going to have to work through pragmatically with the police department as well as the City Council," he said.

The city will soon begin an information program about the new regulations as stipulated in the new law, Carlisle said.

Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, who introduced the bill, said she doesn't think enforcement is an issue, nor that markings need to be on every block.

Kobayashi yesterday returned from a trip to Portland where two citations have been issued even though markings have yet to be placed, she said.

City officials said that at this point, they're not sure how many, or if all, the sidewalks the law designates will need to be marked and carry signs.

Spokeswoman Michelle Yu said HPD will meet soon with the prosecutor's office and other city agencies to discuss enforcement.

Advocates say the law is needed to reclaim sidewalks for pedestrians.

Civil liberty advocates counter that the bill is aimed squarely at homeless people who are being driven out of parks and off beaches.

The bill was the first Carlisle signed into law since he was sworn in as Honolulu's 13th mayor on Oct. 11.

To see the bill:

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