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Council overrides mayor’s veto of expanded sit-lie bill

  • KRYSTLE MARCELLUS / KMARCELLUS@STARADVERTISER.COM
    A person lay on the sidewalk along Pau­ahi Street near River Street in Chinatown on Monday.
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Honolulu City Council members voted 6-3 Wednesday to override Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s veto of a bill expanding the controversial law that bans sitting or lying down on public sidewalks.

Councilmembers Ron Menor, Kymberly Pine and Brandon Elefante voted against the override.

Caldwell said he was "extremely disappointed" in the override and wants "bills that are strong, based solidly on legal grounding"

The mayor vetoed Bill 6 on May 21 after Corporation Counsel staff raised questions.The bill expands the sit-lie prohibition to include areas across the street from the borders of current zones, as well as several new neighborhoods including Kapalama Canal, Aala and McCully.

City attorneys had said repeatedly that sit-lie bills are best able to fend off constitutional challenges when access to businesses is being hindered by people sitting or lying on sidewalks. Caldwell, in his first veto message since becoming mayor in January 2013, said Bill 6 jeopardized the constitutionality of existing sit-lie areas.

Caldwell initiated the first sit-lie ban last year, which imposed a 24-hour restriction in the Waikiki Special District. Subsequently, Council members pushed through a second bill that added more than a dozen other business zones to the sit-lie ban, a measure that the administration initially voiced concerns about but later endorsed after Leong’s office was allowed to tinker with it. A third sit-lie bill, which added five city pedestrian malls in downtown-Chinatown to the ordinance, was also endorsed by the administration only after city attorneys made some changes to it.

Opponents of sit-lie bans, some of whom have threatened the city with lawsuits, say such laws criminalize homelessness while not lowering the ranks of those living outside traditional dwellings.

Voting for the override were Councilmembers Ernie Martin, Ann Kobayashi, Joey Manahan, Trevor Ozawa, Carol Fukunaga, Ikaika Anderson.

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