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Workers seize more items as city enforces property ban

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    Maintenance and park crews on Wednesday cleared personal items from the sidewalk along South Beretania Street as they enforced the city's property ban.

In a continuing effort to keep city sidewalks and parks clear of personal items, workers returned to Thomas Square, Chinatown, McCully-Moiliili and parts of Waikiki Wednesday, removing anything stored there for longer than 24 hours.

City Facility Management Director Wes Chun said crews began at 7 a.m. at South Beretania Street fronting Thomas Square, removing tents, bicycles, furniture and other items left on the sidewalk by Occupy Honolulu protesters.

City officials on Monday issued 20 removal notices at Thomas Square, giving the protesters 24 hours to remove the tagged items. They returned to Thomas Square and issued an additional 10 notices on Wednesday.

All of the items impounded Wednesday under the city’s new personal storage property ordinance will be held at the Halawa baseyard for 30 days before being destroyed. The city law, which took effect in December, prohibits storage of any personal items on city property.

However, H. Douglas Matsuoka, an Occupy Hono­lulu supporter, complained that he owns one of the tents that was seized Wednesday morning but had not been tagged for removal by city officials because he dropped it off Tuesday.

City spokeswoman Louise Kim McCoy said officials remove only items that have been tagged at least 24 hours earlier and that every item is photographed and checked before being impounded.

No one was arrested during Wednesday’s operation at Thomas Square, which was monitored by police.

Occupy Honolulu protesters have been camping on the sidewalks of South Beretania Street after being evicted from Thomas Square in November.

Since the city began impounding their tents, furniture and other personal items earlier last month, the protesters have been playing a cat-and-mouse game with officials, erecting their tents late at night and removing them in the morning to prevent them from being tagged for removal by city officials.

City officials told the protesters they could continue to hold signs and pass out literature, but any tents or other items left on sidewalks would be seized.

Besides Thomas Square, Chun said, city maintenance and park workers planned to continue cleanup of city property near Moiliili Field, Pawaa Park, Old Stadium Park, Aala Park, Iwilei, Kukui Plaza and Kalakaua Avenue near the old Hard Rock Cafe site — favorite campsites for the homeless.

On Monday, 46 removal notices were issued at Aala Park, on North Kukui Street, College Walk, River Street, in Chinatown, Old Stadium Park, near Moiliili Field, and along the Ala Wai promenade.

Chun said that since the cleanup operation began in January, he has "noticed more people being amiable toward looking into (going to) homeless shelters."

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