Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is proposing two new bills that redoubles the city’s efforts to clear the homeless and others off city sidewalks.
The two bills Caldwell offered up this afternoon:
>> A “public lodging bill” that would make it illegal for a person to “lodge” on a sidewalk or other public area. A law enforcement officer would not issue a citation or make an arrest until it is verified that “shelter space is available, including within a reasonable distance,” the officer issues a written request or order warning of a citation or arrest for failure to comply, and the person refuses to relocate after at least one hour.
To lodge, as defined under the ordinance, means “to occupy a place temporarily; to sleep; to come to rest and refuse to vacate” from an area if requested by a law enforcement officer to do so.
>> A “sidewalk obstruction bill” that would make it unlawful to obstruct city sidewalks anywhere on Oahu between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily. Before issuing a citation or making an arrest, an officer would visually need to visually observe the obstruction, verify that it is less than 36 inches of space available on the sidewalk for the public to travel and the person fails to comply with an oral request.
The bills mark a ramping up of Caldwell’s “compassionate disruption” effort to remove the homeless from city streets and sidewalks, and the mayor acknowledged that the proposals are new and may face legal challenges. Until now, Caldwell has proposed — and gotten passed — bills to bar sitting or lying on city sidewalks and obstructing city sidewalks, but only in certain business neighborhoods under the rationale that the people and things are impeding free flow of commerce.
In response to measure proposing islandwide sidewalk bans in the past, the administration previously argued that such legislation would face legal challenges.