HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
The Honolulu City Council has delayed a vote that would expand the sit-lie law to other areas of Oahu, but the council will vote again this Friday.
The sit lie law bans people from sitting or lying on sidewalks and public walkways. The expansion bill brought out a lot of passionate testimony today. People on both sides say they understand each other's perspective on the controversial topic but both sides say it's a matter of survival.
"You can't just keep criminalizing us. We're not criminals. It's hard out there. Any of you come out there for two days and see what we go through," said Michael Natividad, homeless.
But businesses say their livelihood is also on the line. The Lum Sai Ho Tong temple and organization has been on River Street more than a century, but says the homeless have brought more thefts, vandalism, and drugs and less business.
"This is actually survival. At this point we are at our wits end because we constantly have to be concerned about these things," said Howard Lum, Lum Sai Ho Tong and Chinatown Community Center Association.
The law that bans sitting and lying on sidewalks passed for Waikiki. Now the council is considering expanding the ban to other neighborhoods in Moiliili, McCully, Ala Moana, Hawaii Kai, Aina Hina, Kahala, Waialae, Kapahulu, Kailua, Kaneohe, Waimanalo, Wahiawa and more sections of Chinatown and Downtown.
Business owners and the visually impaired support it.
"I don't like the idea of them laying on the sidewalks and not the bus stops because I end up tripping on them," said Rose Poe, who supports the sit lie expansion.
"The presence of people who sit and lie on Chinatown sidewalks is a major negative impact to our business," said Allen Stack Jr., who supports the sit lie expansion.
"I don't care if you're homeless or not we all have to obey the laws," said Barbara Armentrout, who supports the sit lie expansion. "In a way I think homeless sometimes thing I'm entitled to this, well everyone else has a job, they're entitled to being able to walk along the sidewalk. They're entitled to walk into a restaurant without someone sleeping right in the doorway."
But homeless and advocates spoke up against the expansion.
"I oppose this bill because it's just going to lead up to more craziness," said Tracy Martin, homeless who opposes the expansion. "They don't understand that we're humans."
"If lying on the sidewalk is a crime, taking money to lie from that chair should be a crime. Who are the criminals? Oppose bill 48 don't pass it!" said H. Doug Matsuoka, who opposes the expansion.
"Criminalizing them will not solve nothing. Wouldn't the solution be to find them a place to go?" said Queinittra Toilolo, who opposes the expansion.
Three council members offered amendments which were then consolidated into one. They delayed it to read over the details and will vote again this Friday at noon.
"If the community, the businesses, City and State agencies and the providers all work together we should be able to solve this," said Carol Fukunaga, Honolulu City Councilmember.
If this passes Friday, some think it will only be a matter of time until the sit-lie ban on sidewalks will be island wide.