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State and city officials sweeping Kakaako homeless camp sites

By Gregg K. Kakesako

LAST UPDATED: 12:16 p.m. HST, Jul 18, 2013

State and city officials are teaming up this morning in Kakaako in their continuing efforts to clear Oahu parks and sidewalks used by homeless as overnight camp sites.

Jesse Broder Van Dyke, city spokesman, said the joint effort is needed because in Kakaako the sidewalks fall under city jurisdiction while the parks and the parking lots belong to the state.

Also on hand, officials from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which owns land in the Kakaako where homeless campers moved to when city refuse crews began picking up their items on Ilao and Ahui streets. As in past operations, private and government homeless service providers are present to offer their services.

Officials are using two city ordinances in their attempts to keep the homeless out of parks and out of island parks.

Besides Kakaako, crews plan to return to the Ala Wai promenade later today where nearly a ton of refuse left behind by homeless campers was hauled to a landfill dump on July 1.

Left untouched by the city's actions thus far were the (de)Occupy Hono­lulu protesters who have been camping on the sidewalks at Thomas Square since November 2011 and who have been the target of various sweeps.

In April, the City Council adopted Bill 7, which allows city workers to remove any item deemed a sidewalk nuisance. It allows for people to retrieve any items seized if they pay a $200 fee.

The city began enforcing the new law July 1 with raids on Ala Wai promenade, Moiliili Baseball Park, Aala Park, River Street and Pawaa Inha Park.

The new city law follows a 2011 ordinance that allows the city to remove objects left on sidewalks, if objects are tagged 24 hours in advance of removal. The items are held at the city's Halawa base yard for 30 days before being destroyed.

The city used the 2011 ordnance earlier this month to clear the Paawa Inha Park of the homeless before the arrival of South Korean dignitaries.

Homeless campers there were given 24-hour notices to vacate in advance of a visit by a delegation from South Korea, which had donated the sculptures in the park.

A sidewalk nuisance is defined in the new law as "any object or collection of objects constructed, erected, installed, maintained, kept or operated on or over any sidewalk, including but not limited to stalls, stands, tents, furniture, and containers, and of their contents or attachments." The new law allows the city to remove items without tagging them.

Both the old law and Bill 7 were opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii and (de)Occupy Hono­lulu, which argued that the bill would criminalize homelessness and stifle free speech.

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