comscore City homeless notices cite potential rights violations | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News

City homeless notices cite potential rights violations

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / 2015

    Homeless in Aala Park. The city is asking homeless shelters and social service agencies to post legal notices for 30 days in seven different languages notifying people that the city may have violated two of their constitutional rights.

The city is working to notify homeless people — and formerly homeless people — that their constitutional rights may have been violated as part of the city’s homeless crackdown.

The city is asking homeless shelters and social service agencies to post legal notices for 30 days in seven different languages notifying people that the city may have violated two of their constitutional rights — the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizure of property and the 14th Amendment right against deprivation of property without due process under law — officials said recently.

By order of a federal court judge, the legal notices are also supposed to appear in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

The notices are the result of a successful class-action lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii and the Honolulu law firm of Alston Hunt Floyd &Ing on behalf of Tabatha Martin and her family who were among the more than 300 people who lived in the Kakaako homeless encampment in summer 2015.

The suit questioned the city’s tactics in applying its stored property ordinance and its sidewalk nuisance ordinance, both of which the city uses to keep city sidewalks and streets clear of homeless encampments and belongings.

The notices inform people that they have 30 minutes to move their belongings. Even if they’re in a park after closing hours, according to the notices, people “will not be cited, arrested, or otherwise charged for being present in a park after closing hours during that 30-minute period.”

And, other than garbage, motor oil and other specified items, the city cannot throw away possessions, according to the notices.

Instead, the city must store items including tents, clothes and bicycles for 45 days. People who cannot afford to retrieve their property can get their possessions back for free within 45 days, according to the notices.

Nick Kacprowski, an attorney with Alston Hunt Floyd &Ing, said the notices are intended to alert homeless people that “the settlement is going to be approved” by a federal judge.

They’re going up in homeless shelters and social service agencies “because we don’t have the exact addresses of anyone,” Kacprowski said, adding that no one “is entitled to money through this settlement.”

There is a city administrative process to try to get reimbursed for improperly seized possessions, Kac-prowski said. Or homeless people can file a case in small claims court, he said.

“Anyone who is homeless or formerly homeless is part of the class,” Kacprowski said. “It affects their rights, even if they haven’t had their stuff seized.”

The city said the notices are being posted as part of the resolution of the class-action lawsuit.

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    • Yes, it also means the city will hold your trash, I mean belongings, for 45 days free of charge. And all this time I’ve been paying for public storage needlessly. Seesh, time to move the old couch the GF has been complaining about onto the sidewalk so the city can store it for me free of charge. If they fail to return it to me I can sue them in small claims court! Thanks ACLU, you’re going to save me a ton of storage fees!!!

    • Yay!! I always wanted to go camping without a permit at one of those beautiful parks in Mililani Mauka, or Kualoa beach park, or beautiful Sandy Beach, or even on the beach to watch the fireworks of Friday night in front of the Hilton and be able to spend the entire weekend there, beach front, without a permit. Yay!!! now I know that I have a LEGAL right to do that. Oh, and also, why should I pay $250.00/month for a storage locker when the State has to legally store my stuff for me for 30 days for FREE!! Yay!!!

  • Another example of the City’s incompetence and fear of the ACLU. Common sense tells you not to camp on sidewalks and other public common areas but chronic homeless are a lot smarter than our city fathers. How pathetic!

  • Incredible! When will the ACLU defend the public’s right to unobstructed sidewalks and protection from crime and vermin. The Federal judges ruling is also warped. Disrespecting the public’s interests leads to public disrespect for the government.

  • Spent most of my life on Oahu. Reading all this from California now it all seems so ridiculous. Oahu is in some very serious trouble and it is not going to get better.

    • California has a significantly bigger mess on it’s hands. Try counting the illegals there, they almost outnumber the citizens and Californians are supporting the illegals big time! Walk into almost any public school in California and you’ll soon realize that over 50% of the students are illegals and anchor babies and you’re paying 100% for them and their illegal parents! haaaaa

  • Then I’ll sue the ACLU for blocking my right to have a obstruction free sidewalk so I can walk safety without tripping by their junk or being bitten by their dogs.

  • ACLU is becoming a club of perversion. Instead of the rights of the normal citizen they defend the rotten parasites of civilization who are a disgrace to the universe!

  • “The notices inform people that they have 30 minutes to move their belongings. Even if they’re in a park after closing hours, according to the notices, people “will not be cited, arrested, or otherwise charged for being present in a park after closing hours during that 30-minute period.”>>> The belongings thing maybe I understand, but WHY is there a 30 minute window for them being in a park that they KNOW they aren’t supposed to be in? If I shoplift do I get a 30 minute window too? Speeding? A violated law is violated the MOMENT it’s violated. This is ridiculous.

  • The best thing you can do is encourage any remaining kids or family members to get out of this third world toilet. Hawaii will soon be like Rio, with rich foreign millionaires and poverty-stricken favelas, and no middle class in between. Sell your home to a rich foreigner, then move to a more sensible place.

  • Calm down, people, and read before you react. The lawsuit does not make it legal to camp on sidewalks. It does not mean the City cannot conduct sweeps. It just means they canʻt take and destroy property on the spot. Imagine if you let your parking meter run out. Youʻre breaking the law. Do you want the City to come with a car crusher and crush your car? Youʻd probably want to be able to challenge the seizure if it was improper and to have a process to get your car back, right? Itʻs just a due process case.

    • Thank you “TheFarm”, our esteemed colleagues who write on the Star Advertiser’s comment section without fully reading the article is the highlight of my day. I also enjoyed your car crushing analogy, thank you for putting it into perspective for the people who still do not understand the due process of law. I picture our colleagues sitting in their sun room yelling that the sky isn’t blue enough.

      • Following the law and the Constitution is not optional for the State, City or any government entity. We should WANT them to and DEMAND that they do that, not consider it a problem.

        • It is optional to some extent. States and municipalities are given powers to legally do as they please on some laws as long as they don’t violate the federal laws which supersede state laws but then again, in practice, many states and municipalities, especially predominantly Democrat ones, have violated countless federal laws and the FEDs have done absolutely 100% nothing about it to crack-down on them. So while in theory it might all seem like it’s all perfect and everyone follows the law to the letter but in practice it’s a completely different world.

    • The lawsuit does not prevent enforcement of ADA rules and immediate removal of items blocking the sidewalk. It DOES prevent the government from immediately trashing items it seizes. You are right that we all have an equal right to 36″ (or whatever it is) of clear space to travel on a sidewalk. And that we must respect the right of everyone to share the sidewalk, especially the disabled. The suit does not give people permission to block the sidewalk.

      • If it looks like trash, smells like trash, it just might be trash, but to many of these bums, they don’t classify trash the same way we would since every item holds some value to them. Would you consider the aluminum, plastic and glass empty beverage containers in their shopping carts as trash? How about the makeshift cardboard box used as a table? So where do you draw the line?

  • Yes, because property tax paying, excise tax paying, income tax paying, investments tax paying people have no rights at all. If you have a job, own a home, pay your rent, own a small business you have no rights. Eminent domain can take your property away. If that doesn’t do it, your property tax will skyrocket. Your utility bills sky rocket. The government does its best to keep squeezing and squeezing the every day citizen to get money to support politicians who dole out favors of office and promote nepotism within the bureaucracy. The situation is gross and has created a climate nation wide that would have the likes of Trump as leader of the country.

  • If you don’t want to pay for a storage unit, leave your things on the sidewalk, then call the City to remove them — they City will then have to store it for you for 45 days. On the 44th day, retrieve your things . . . then start the process all over again. Voila! Never pay storage fees again!

    • Not quite as cut and dry as you make it out to be. If you call the city, they’ll think it’s actually bulk curbside trash. You’ll have to be present in-front of the items of question when they arrive and then put on a circus-act so they think you’re a bum so they’ll be forced haul it into storage, make sure you get a receipt and inventory list for the items they took so you can rightfully claim your junk, I mean valuables, back. If it’s quite a bit of stuff, it might just be worth it to save some $$$ instead of paying for a storage unit. 😉

  • However, if the police believe the tents or bikes have been used in the commission of a crime, they can seize the property and put it up for auction. There was an article in the paper about that recently. I still don’t get how we cannot clear these guys off of public property when that property is used for purposes not intended (sleeping on a sideWALK) and impacts the use of that property by those who wish to use it properly.

  • I really don’t get why the homeless have so many rights that good hard working taxpayers pay for when they contribute nothing back for their freebies. They should be grateful they are are not homeless in a 3rd world country. They don’t know what real suffering is about!I only feel sorry for the hardworking homeless that can’t afford a house. Even then it’s about bad choices in life.

  • “The notices inform people that they have 30 minutes to move their belongings. Even if they’re in a park after closing hours, according to the notices, people “will not be cited, arrested, or otherwise charged for being present in a park after closing hours during that 30-minute period.”

    “By order of a federal court judge, the legal notices are also supposed to appear in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.”

    Since you’re already having to post this in the SA, why don’t you also tack in a job ad for a city attorney with a spine who wouldn’t lose to such a ridiculous ruling… “Even if they’re in a park after closing hours, according to the notices, people “will not be cited, … for being present in a park after closing hours ..”

    Are ya kidding me?

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