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Sidewalk tent ban passes

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

LAST UPDATED: 3:04 p.m. HST, Oct 13, 2010

The City Council passed a bill this morning that would make it illegal to raise a tent or other makeshift structure on the sidewalk during daylight hours in urban Honolulu neighborhoods.

Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, who introduced the measure, said it was not designed to target the homeless but to establish rights for people wishing to walk along the public sidewalk.

The bill will apply only in Honolulu's urban zones, which include Ala Moana, Kakaako, Downtown, Kalihi, McCully, Moiliili, Makiki and Waikiki, where congreagations of homeless people have been viewed as a problem.

The sidewalk proposal is the latest in a series of moves by city officials aimed at rousting the homeless from city streets and parks. In 2009 the City Council shelved a bill that would have outlawed sitting, sleeping or lying down on a public sidewalk.

Earlier this year the city banned tents and shopping carts at city parks.

The bill bans the blocking of sidewalks but would specifically ban blocking the sidewalk between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., or until 2 a.m. in Waikiki.

The American Civil Liberties Union opposes the bill because it limits the use of items engaged in free speech on the sidewalk, such as a soapbox.

The proposal has been amended to include exemptions, such as allowing outdoor furniture to be used for expressive purposes. Another exemption includes using the sidewalk during a parade, rally or demonstration.

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