After sit-lie ban's expansion, new homeless camp grows on sidewalk along Nimitz Highway

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Louis Garnica walks to work five days a week along Nimitz Highway. These days, that's pretty tricky.

Since the city announced an expansion of its sit-lie ban to Iwilei, new homeless camps have been popping up everywhere along the highway.

Tents, makeshift shelters and debris now clog sidewalks and medians, forcing pedestrians to walk in the roadway and obstructing traffic views.

"They have the stakes and the ropes to hold up the tent and one day I was trying to get across Nimitz I didn't see the black rope and actually tripped on it. It knocked me over," said Garnica. "Sometimes I have to walk into the street to get around them."

The Nimitz Highway median and sidewalks belong to the state.

Officials didn't respond to requests for comment on the situation.

Meanwhile, it's unlikely the city will step in either.

There's an agreement in place that allows the city to step in and help, but the mayor's office said city properties are its first priority.

A few blocks mauka is the remainder of the old encampment.

Social workers visit twice weekly, and say most of the homeless aren't much interested in moving off the streets and most have refused help.

"I think there's a good portion of the people that believe they can be homeless and it's OK. It's an acceptable lifestyle," said Justin Phillips, Institute for Human Services. "As much as we want to offer assistance a moment of clarity is what it's going to take to address some of the substance abuse issues."

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