Bill proposes sit-lie ban on state land
  • Saturday, June 15, 2019
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Bill proposes sit-lie ban on state land

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A homeless person naps in the Kakaako Makai Gateway Park with her belongings in a shopping cart, near the Kakaako Waterfront Park area, along Ohe St. in the vicinity of the Children’s Discovery Center, Friday, January 8, 2016.

Sitting and lying down on state lands in Hawaii could become illegal under a proposal in the state Legislature, and homelessness experts say they don’t know of any other state with such a ban.

The bill seeks to align Hawaii’s policies with a sit-lie ban enacted by Honolulu in 2014, said state Rep. Isaac Choy, a Democrat. That city ban, which focused primarily on sidewalks, was first enacted in Waikiki and then was expanded to other parts of Oahu.

But when the city enforced its ban, homeless people often just moved to nearby state land, because city crews typically wouldn’t clear state-owned properties, Choy said.

“They cross this imaginary line, and they go, ‘Oh, this is state property,’” Choy said.

Under the bill when crews clear homeless encampments, “it’s going to be seamless,” Choy added. “They can’t jump over this imaginary line and say, ‘Hey, I’m on the state land now.’”

The bill, HB 1525, also would ban camping on state property. It makes some exceptions, including people taking part in permitted festivals, children or babies in strollers, and those engaging in authorized activities that have proper permits.

Choy sought to change that after business owners in his district complained about vandalism which they blamed on homeless people who were living on state land under a freeway.

Critics say such bans criminalize homelessness, and make it harder for people who are extremely poor to get back on their feet.

“We don’t know of anything like this in any other state, certainly not any other state laws that specifically target sitting and lying down in public places,” said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. “This seems like one further, very discouraging effort in the state of Hawaii to really take a very counter-productive approach to address the homelessness crisis in the state.”

The Legislature is also considering a variety of proposals that would help homeless people through outreach programs, rental payment assistance and affordable housing development. The state is also working on a new shelter that’s being built adjacent to what was one of the nation’s largest homeless encampments.

But allowing homeless people to live on sidewalks or public properties isn’t fair to the public at large, Choy said.

“I’m here to help the homeless. I’m not here to accommodate the homeless,” Choy said. “If it’s something that an ordinary citizen cannot do, then nobody should do it. I want to give the homeless services. I believe in shelters and safe zones, but you shouldn’t be granted special privileges that an ordinary person cannot do.”

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  • “State Lands” Presumably, “for the people”.. This should really be interesting for “Tourists” as they are “Taser’d” and Herded off the grass.., by Caldwell and Ige’s “Moke-Patrols”…

  • Please explain how this will work. Will family’s picnicing in the park have to do so while standing or risk being cited? My grandma loves to go for walks in the park, but has to take a few moments to sit and catch her breath every now and then. Will she be cited?

        • Having a picnic is not an “offense to the public order”, and you cannot be arrested unless you continue the activity after having been warned by a police officer. So……you’ll only having a problem if you encounter a dikk cop.

        • In response to what: True but HPD, DLNR etc.. Are not the ones to make an interpretation of the law. That decision is up to a judge. I’ve heard them say that at many neighborhood board meetings when people came to complain about being ticketed while using a tent in a park at a soccer game, cutting through a park for a short cut on the way home feom work after the park is closed, excreta, excreta. They need to reword this bill or it is going to cost taxpayers, park users, and everyday people a lot of headache.

        • Hey people it’s call common sense. One can tell if it is a homeless sitting and lying in a park versus a family having a picnic. If you can’t tell the difference then you’re more screwed then the homeless.

      • I wish you were right, but that is not how the law works. The police will have to enforce the law equaly regardless of ones social standing. If it is against the law to sit on state land for homeless it is equaly against the law to sit on state land for those with homes. It’s an unintended consequence. Regardless, the ACLU will have a feild day with this. Such a shame.

        • Hawaii really has made doing everything illegal. Then the police just choose what laws they want to enforce at random.

      • Actuly wheeling a shopping cart isn’t impacted by the bill as drafted. And those wheeling carts are most likely already breaking the law by being in possession of stolen property. Yet HPD doesn’t infofce that law.

        • You are right rich…and if I was a city attorney I would tell city resources to stay clear of enforcement for fear of dragging the city into a law suit. We have enough already.

  • Obviously, “sitting or lying” is such a broad definition that it could be applied to tourists, local beachgoers, people having a picnic on the grass, etc., etc. ad infinitum.

    Therefore just as obviously, such a law would be applied only by selective enforcement. And selective enforcement is obviously, patently unfair.

    Now look. If Mother Earth didn’t want humans sitting or lying on her, she’d have covered herself with kukus and sleeping grass, and drafted trillions of red ants into her police force to keep us on our feet and moving.

    This is a shameful law that should not be passed, and if the legislature is callous enough to pass it, we can only hope the courts will toss it in the opala where it belongs.

  • Proper enforcement will need to be applied. More important I hope that the homeless will seek assistance to help themselves…simple as it sounds…”help us help you”. Then again, as simple as it sounds those who we are attempting to help may not want to cooperate. Regardless having this law in effect and the resources to provide assistance…I believe we’re moving in the right direction.

    • Yeah, another unenforced law….thank goodness we’re moving in the right direction, though!! Let’s start by enforcing laws regulating non-smoking areas, loud mopeds, using cell phones while driving, red light runners, failure to use turn signals, out of date Safety Checks, no-fault insurance requirements, etc. etc. etc……But let’s enact more laws! Pat ourselves on the back: We’re MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION!

  • STATE AND CITY AND LAND IS FOR EVERY ONE .. MAKING SUCH LAWS AS LIE AND SIT
    IS NOT MAKING THINGS BETTER BUT IT ONLY MAKING THINGS WORSE .. HOMELESS IS
    THROUGHOUT THE ISLANDS AND NOTHING HAS REALLY BEEN SOLVED TO HELP THE PEOPLE WHO’S OUT ON A DAILY BASIS.. THEY ARE ONLY SHUFFLED AROUND FROM PLACE TO PLACE AND NOT A PERNAMENT SITE TO THIS DAY ..BUILDINGS ARE NOT
    SITUATED FOR PEOPLE TO STAY .. THE STATE AND THE CITY AND COUNTY HAS TO WORK HAND IN HAND TO SOLVE TO BIG PROBLEM .. NOT THE GOVERNOR NOR THE MAYOR
    DID ANY THING SINCE THEY ARRIVE IN OFFICE TO CLAP ON THIS PROBLEM !!!

  • The problem is that of people occupying state land without a permit. Seems to me that there should be enough laws about this. What the state has lacked is enforcement
    Could it be that this bill by Choy is a ploy to build up the State’s law enforcement arm (i.e. Sheriffs) which some have long sought to establish their clout but run into stiff resistance by
    the police, most notably, the Honolulu Police Dept and some resistance from the other island police departments.
    Some of this has been due to not being willing to give up their public image as being the premier law enforcement agency in Hawaii. The Sheriff’s Dept has always been seen
    as the poor stepchild who were never really very good or professional.
    The thing about enforcing such a law as proposed by Choy is that it requires the ability to enforce which the state sorely lacks. As the Gov recently found out, neither the City nor
    HPD is especialy eager to get after the homeless on state owed property using their resources and manpower.
    I would prefer that Choy focus his attention and efforts in the building of low income rentals to house the current homeless and those who will shortly become homeless as
    the cost of housing continues to spiral upward with no end in sight.

  • Can’t even enforce the shopping cart law and the lawmakers are superimposing another unenforceable law. What magic wand do our elected officials think we have?

  • So sitting on the ground would be illegal. I would like to see the outcome of the city battling this out with the disabled rights law counsel when the homeless choose to beat the system by sitting on a wheelchair.

  • Law Enforcement: How can we assist you?
    Resident: I have and expensive house in Lanikai. There are homeless people on the state beach, blocking my access.
    HPD: What do they look like?
    Resident: There are about 30 of them, most with mats and towels, but a few have umbrellas.
    HPD: They sound like tourists.
    Resident: Sure, that is what they say, but I say they are homeless and you need to hook them up.
    HPD: We are sending an officer.

  • Rep. Choy should be re-elected based on this statement alone. “I’m here to help the homeless. I’m not here to accomodate the homeless.”

    Finally, someone gets it. Help them. Don’t cater to them. You need the stick, not just the carrot. The chronic homeless need to be FORCED off the street to get help.

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