Hawaii News Sidewalk bills return to Council committee By Gordon Y.K. Pang Aug. 26, 2014 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! 9 Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. Five bills that would have major impacts on the homeless and others who spend considerable time on Oahu’s sidewalks will once again take center stage at the Honolulu City Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee meeting Thursday. The measures have exposed a clear division in the community on how the city should deal with the homeless. Supporters of the bills say the sidewalks belong to pedestrians and that the measures are needed to keep the island’s sidewalks clear and clean for residents, businesses and visitors. Opponents, however, say the bills unfairly target the homeless and make it criminal to be homeless when the city should first create shelter and services for them. All five bills were deferred — suddenly and indefinitely — on July 24 but have now been returned to the committee, many with changes to make them more palatable to the opposition. Three of the bills would ban lying and sitting on public sidewalks and have come to be known as the "sit-lie" bills after the ban in Seattle and elsewhere on the mainland. Bill 42 would impose the restriction in Waikiki, bordered by Ala Wai Canal and Kapahulu Avenue, 24 hours a day. It’s being lobbied strongly by Mayor Kirk Caldwell as part of his two-pronged "compassionate disruption" strategy that also calls for an initiative to provide shelter and services for the homeless. A new draft of the bill would delay the start date to Jan. 1, instead of immediately. Bill 45 would impose the same ban islandwide. It was introduced by Councilman Ikaika Anderson, who argues that placing the ban in only one district would shift the problem into other areas. The Caldwell administration said such a ban may not meet constitutional muster because there may not be enough shelter space to accommodate those who may be displaced by an islandwide ban. A new draft of the bill would limit the ban to only between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m., essentially allowing people to camp under existing laws from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Bill 48 would impose the sit-lie ban only in certain business districts in Honolulu from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Introduced by Councilman Ron Menor, a new draft by the author spells out six zones in Chinatown, Downtown, McCully-Moiliili, Waipahu, Kalihi and Kailua. The two other bills would ban urinating and defecating in public areas. Bill 43 would ban urinating and defecating in public areas of Waikiki, while Bill 46 would impose the same prohibition islandwide. The language of both bills is similar to a state law that bans urinating and defecating in downtown Honolulu. The administration has opposed the islandwide urination-defecation bill, arguing that it may also not stand constitutional muster because city attorneys believe there are areas islandwide that do not have enough bathrooms. Opponents of the bill, headed by human rights advocate Kathryn Xian, have organized at least two petitions against all five measures. A written petition submitted via email contains the names of about 500 supporters while a separate, online petition had the names of 380 people as of 7 p.m. Monday. The online petition accuses the Caldwell administration and the Iwilei shelter Institute for Human Services for using the bills to "dis-incentivize" homelessness without first providing enough adequate housing or public restrooms. "The sidewalks are the only public place left for displaced persons to legally exist," the petition states. "Those seeking this criminalization cannot succeed without the majority of local working-class people buying into their propaganda that displaced families threaten the livelihood of our state, which they clearly do not." Last week, Waikiki hotel leaders, in urging that the Waikiki bans be passed, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser they are trying to raise $500,000 annually to help IHS with its programs. IHS Director Connie Mitchell last week defended her organization’s support of the sit-lie ban proposed for Waikiki. "Whether we support this bill or not, we’re still going to try to provide more services," Mitchell said. "We just think that supporting the bill sets the standard for public behavior. It isn’t laws that criminalize people, it’s people’s behavior that criminalizes them." Caldwell’s compassionate disruption strategy includes a Housing First program that is expected to provide permanent housing and services for those who are homeless and in lower-income brackets. The Council approved $54.9 million this year toward that end. Mitchell said her agency endorses the Housing First concept, which fits well with the shelter’s own shift in policy to expand programs designed to help the homeless seek more permanent housing with support services. Caldwell spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke said in an email, "Housing First will help to solve this problem by providing small permanent units, scattered around town, that clients can take pride in." Further, he said, "Housing First units will provide privacy and safety, and some units will be able to accommodate pets." Critics argue that the city should allow the housing and services to be in place before imposing new laws that punish the homeless. Previous Story A look at life on the Hōkūle‘a and Hikianalia Next Story Telling Tales: Greetings from Pago Pago!