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City starts enforcing new sidewalk nuisance law

By Gregg K. Kakesako

POSTED: 09:30 a.m. HST, Jul 01, 2013

City and private social workers will spend this week enforcing the county’s new law designed to remove homeless campers from Honolulu sidewalks.

The city hit three spots used by the homeless campers — the Ala Wai promenade at the entrance to Waikiki, Honolulu Stadium Park and Moliliili Field. No one was arrested.

About 10 campers on Kalakaua Avenue near the Hawaii Convention Center were told to move their personal belongings or have them confiscated, Jay Parasco, city spokesman, said. There were only two people at Honolulu Stadium Park and one at Moiliili Field.

The Waikiki operation, which began at 8:30 a.m. today, was conducted with members of the City Department of Facility Maintenance, U.S. Vets, Waikiki Health Clinic and Institute for Human Services.

More sweeps are planned, but city officials said they won’t be releasing information until after the cleanup operation is completed.

Any items confiscated were to be handled by city maintenance workers. 

If any items are confiscated, handbills will be posted telling the homeless where the items could be retrieved.

In April, the City Council adopted Bill 7 that allows city workers to summarily remove any items deemed sidewalk nuisances. The law allows for people to retrieve any items seized if they pay a $200 fee. 

The new city law replaces the existing ordinance, which allows the city to remove objects left on sidewalks if tagged 24 hours in advance.

A sidewalk nuisance is defined in the bill 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."

Both the old and new laws are opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii and (de)Occupy Honolulu — a group whose members have been camped on the sidewalks near Thomas Square for more than a year — argue that the bill criminalizes homelessness and stifles free speech.

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