City Council mulls expansion of sit-lie ban to more neighborhoods

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu City Council is considering expanding the controversial sit-lie ban into new neighborhoods.

One proposal would create a new enforcement zone in Kalihi, while another would expand the ban to Iwilei.

Supporters of sit-lie bans say they are necessary to address safety and sanitation concerns caused by homeless encampments.

But critics of the bills question their constitutionality, saying they criminalize being poor and only serve to displace homeless individuals from one neighborhood to the next.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell introduced the first sit-lie ban in 2014. It specifically targeted Waikiki in response to growing complaints from the tourism industry.

Since then, the City Council has expanded it to include 15 neighborhoods from Waimanalo to Wahiawa.

Police have issued nearly 3,000 warnings and about 600 citations, and made a dozen arrests since the first sit-lie ban went into effect in Waikiki.

Those numbers are much higher in Chinatown, where police have issued nearly 20,000 warnings and about 300 citations, and made 17 arrests since December 2014.

Councilmembers Joey Manahan and Ann Kobayashi are behind the calls for new expansions of the ban. They say the ban is needed in the additional communities to address the impact of homeless encampments on businesses.

The planned expansion comes as other states that have previously enacted sit-lie bans are reversing their policies in reaction to legal challenges.

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