Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed into law Tuesday bills that make it illegal to sit and lie on public sidewalks in Waikiki, and two separate laws prohibiting urinating and defecating in public in Waikiki and across Oahu.
While business interests and others in the community support the idea of clearing public sidewalks for pedestrians, opponents of the measures say they criminalize homelessness, forcing those most vulnerable to move, go into shelters or go to jail.
Caldwell was flanked by City Councilmembers Ikaika Anderson and Stanley Chang, as well as Waikiki business leaders as the bills were signed.
The bills became law upon Caldwell’s signing. The actions in all three bills are considered petty misdemeanors punishable by fines of up to $1,000 and/or 30 days in jail.
Caldwell and Honolulu police have stressed that they intend to give verbal warnings about the sit-lie bill first, issue citations second, and then only as a resort arrest people who still choose to disobey the new laws.
Bill 42, which bans lying and sitting in Waikiki, has generated the most debate. Waikiki is defined as the area between Ala Wai Canal and Kapahulu Avenue. Caldwell introduced the bill, pointing out that there is special impetus to clear the streets of Waikiki, the economic bread basket of the state.
Caldwell also proposed Bill 43, which makes it illegal to urinate or defecate along parts of Waikiki, on public and private property, that are accessible by the general public. The city said to accommodate those needing relieve themselves, a public restroom near the Waikiki police substation at Kuhio Beach will be open 24 hours a day this week.
Bill 46, introduced by Councilman Ikaika Anderson, prohibits urinating and defecating in public throughout Oahu. Opponents said there are not enough public restrooms across the island to accommodate people’s needs.
All three bills were approved by the City Council Wednesday.
Council members Breene Harimoto and Kymberly Pine voted against Bill 42; all nine members approved Bill 43; and Harimoto opposed Bill 46.
Rejected by Council members, by a 4-5 vote, was Bill 45, banning lying and sitting on all Oahu sidewalks. Opponents joined Caldwell in raising concerns that the bill would not withstand constitutionality challenges.
Bill 48, a separate measure that prohibits people from sitting or lying on public sidewalks in six designated commercial and business zones on Oahu from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, is still alive before the Council.