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Council panel shelves bill banning lying on sidewalks

    Tents line the sidewalk on Kuwili Street in Iwilei

A bill banning “lying on sidewalks” was shelved by the City Council Public Safety and Economic Development Committee today after it became clear it did not have enough support to pass.

Several Council members, primarily Breene Harimoto and Ikaika Anderson, said they did not think the bill would solve the issues it sought to address.

Bill 59 originally called for the ban to take place across Oahu but recent drafts limited the prohibition to Chinatown, the Capitol District and Waikiki after city attorneys raised concerns about potential legal challenges based on time and place restrictions.

The bill, in its various forms, did allow exemptions, including for those exercising free speech, and those showing proof that they had been turned away from a homeless shelter the evening they lie on the streets.

Several members of (de)Occupy Honolulu and homeless advocates testified against the bill arguing that it unfairly targeted the homeless. A few people testified in favor of the bill, arguing it would be helpful for the public and businesses affected by people blocking their entrances.

Councilman Stanley Chang, who introduced the bill, denied that the bill targeted the homeless. He insisted the bill is about keeping public sidewalks clear for pedestrians, and added that it would apply to anyone lying on public sidewalks.

After the meeting, Chang said that he will work to change the proposal to address the concerns raised by colleagues and the public.

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