Honolulu mayor signs bills to crack down on homeless encampments

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Two bills aimed at cracking down on homeless encampments are now law.

One makes it illegal to set up tents on sidewalks between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. In Bill 51:

(a) No person shall create, cause, or maintain an obstruction on a public sidewalk that interferes, impedes, and/or prevents the full, free, and unobstructed passage of pedestrians upon public sidewalks or interferes with the normal flow of pedestrian traffic upon a public sidewalk during the hours from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

The other allows the city to clear the homeless into shelters. In Bill 52:

(a) No person shall lodge on a public sidewalk or other public place.

(b) No law enforcement officer shall issue a citation, make an arrest, or otherwise enforce this section against any person unless:

(1) Shelter space is readily available;
(2) An offer has been made to transport the person to the available shelter; and
(3) The officer requests or orders the person to refrain from the alleged
violation of this section.

Both laws immediately went into effect, but neither can be enforced until the city council approves comprehensive studies from each district.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell had unsuccessfully pushed for the requirement to be removed.

“These bills when signed still cannot be enforced. We cannot do what is needed. From my perspective, especially from a humanitarian perspective, we cannot put into practice Bill 52, which is about offering people services, housing, and providing an effective transport system for them,” said Marc Alexander, executive director, Mayor’s Office of Housing.

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