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City Council votes to expand sit-lie, bans camping along streams

  • KRYSTLE MARCELLUS / KMARCELLUS@STARADVERTISER.COM
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The Honolulu City Council passed two measures Wednesday that further restricts where the homeless and other people can sit, lie or camp.

Bill 44 adds two new areas to an existing ban on Downtown/Chinatown pedestrian malls while expanding the hours for two other walkways.

Bill 46, meanwhile, bars people from camping or setting up a tent along the island’s streams and other waterways.

Bill 44 added College Walk Mall and Kila Kalikimaka Mall, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, to the areas where people cannot sit or lie down. 

The measure also increases the hours when the prohibition would apply at Union Mall to 24 hours, seven days a week, while Fort Street Mall’s ban would run from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Saturdays.

A bill that became law late last year prohibited sitting and lying down on sidewalks in most Downtown and Chinatown malls during certain hours. While Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed that bill, he has raised questions about constitutional issues on the measure passed Wednesday.

Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga, who represents the Downtown/Chinatown portion of Honolulu, said she introduced the bill in response to complaints from area merchants.

Council members Brandon Elefante and Kymberly Pine, who were the two “no” votes, have consistently rejected so-called sit-lie proposals. Honolulu City Council voted to expand the ban on sitting and lying down on sidewalks in parts of Honolulu to pedestrian malls.

Honolulu originally banned sitting and lying down in Waikiki nearly a year ago after tourists complained about homeless people living near the beach. At the time, there were plans to create a safe zone for camping in an industrial part of Honolulu, but that plan stalled. Now city and state officials are looking for additional sites to provide shelter.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness says Hawaii has the second-highest number of homeless people per capita in the nation. The issue gained attention after state Rep. Tom Brower was recently attacked at a homeless encampment in Kakaako.

Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, who supports the bans, said that because there was no designated place for displaced homeless people to go after leaving Waikiki, they just moved across the canal into her district. She said the bans aren’t solving the problem, but she continues to support them.

“People are just moving wherever they can, and it’s disrupting neighborhoods and local small businesses,” Kobayashi said in an interview. “We have to keep doing it piecemeal, because people kept moving to other areas.”

Critics say the bans are criminalizing homelessness and not solving the problem.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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