Council passes abandoned property bill

Honolulu City Council passed a bill to prohibit storing of private property on city sidewalks
Honolulu City Council passed a bill to prohibit storing of private property on city sidewalks
City Councilmember Tulsi Gabbard
City Councilmember Tulsi Gabbard

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - "There is no way that everyone will walk out of the room with a smile on their face," City Councilmember Tulsi Gabbard said.

She defended her abandoned property bill, saying it doesn't target the homeless. But that's what dominated discussion during nearly four hours of testimony over Bill 54.

"This is cruel, unusual punishment for people that have been very punished as it is," said David Cannell, who's homeless and wheelchair bound.

The measure prohibits storing private property on public property like sidewalks, bus stops and parks. The city can impound, remove and dispose of abandoned property. There will be no fines and owners would have ample time to reclaim their goods.

Bill supporters said vendors and shop owners would also be affected, not just homeless people.

"It allies with part of our mission statement, which is to increase neighborhood conditions and combat community deterioration," said Lee Stack of the Chinatown Employers Association.

Opponents included several from the Occupy Honolulu movement, which has set up camp at Thomas Square.

"Passage of this mean-spirited bill will leave no remaining space on Oahu that I know of where one can survive rent free. Do you find this acceptable?" Denise Snyder said.

State Homeless Coordinator Marc Alexander argued that the bill will help him help those who live on the street.

"This is a tool in our tool chest, one of very many, that could be used in order to encourage people to get the help that they need, and ultimately the help that they want," he said.

Councilman Nestor Garcia said he was changing his mind to support the measure.

"I'm going to hold the administration's feet to the fire and say, 'Okay. I'll give you this opportunity to use this bill to do what you say you're going to do,'" he said.

The measure passed 8 to 1, with Romy Cachola the only "no" vote.

If Mayor Peter Carlisle signs it into law, Bill 54 will take effect the very next day.

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