Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is ramping up efforts to clear the homeless from the sidewalks.
He’s asking the city council to approve to new bills that would expand the sit-lie ban across Oahu.
He said he and many other Oahu residents are frustrated by sidewalks getting blocked and that’s why he’s pushing for new laws to address it.
“They’re designed to walk on, not to put a tent on, a shopping cart on, to lie on, to sit on, they’re to walk on,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
The mayor says he’s feeling the frustration from many others and he wants to clear the sidewalks with two new proposals.
One bill makes it illegal to block the sidewalk from six in the morning until ten at night.
A second bill takes it even further and makes it illegal to lodge or live on a sidewalk or other public areas.
Law enforcement will give a warning and can only cite people if there are shelters nearby that have space available.
Mayor Caldwell says the idea is to stop homeless from moving around after an area has been swept and to finally seek help and get off the streets.
“Is to get folks to say enough already,” said Caldwell. ” I’m not gonna continue to destroy or negatively impact public property. I will take up the option of moving into a shelter and getting back on our feet.”
“What that basically is doing is talking about criminalizing those who happen to be unsheltered, and that is simply a constitutional violation,” explained ACLU Hawaii executive director Joshua Wisch.
The ACLU tells me it still has to review the bills, but will likely challenge them in court.
It points out that the mayor vetoed a bill that expanded the sit lie ban before because of constitutional concerns.
And that the current proposals won’t work because there aren’t enough space in the shelters.
“There’s nothing compassionate about criminalizing someone who just doesn’t happen to have a roof over their heads,” added Wisch. “These are our friends, these are our neighbors, these are other Oahu residents and this is just another attempt to criminalize who they are.”
“It’s a result of the frustration so I think there’s going to be support for this and I’m open to making sure it does withstand challenge,” added Caldwell.
City council chairman Ernie Martin actually introduced similar proposals, so he’s in favor of them.