First complaint filed under new city ordinance against personal property on sidewalks

Published: Dec. 16, 2011 at 2:36 AM HST|Updated: Dec. 16, 2011 at 4:07 AM HST
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Christal Cuadra
Christal Cuadra
Personal items belonging to homeless people run the perimeter of Old Stadium Park
Personal items belonging to homeless people run the perimeter of Old Stadium Park
Greg Cuadra
Greg Cuadra

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Many are familiar with the people living in tents along South King Street next to Old Stadium Park in Moiliili. Those tents may become a test case under a new law that was signed last Friday.

"I jog every morning at 5 a.m. before I go to work, and I can't even safely pass through the personal items that are being stored right here," said Moiliili resident Christal Cuadra.

Cuadra decided to file a formal complaint with the city against the tents -- or personal items -- under Bill 54, now law, which allows the city to removal personal property left on sidewalks, in parks, or on other public property.

"I actually read the bill. I read the law," said Cuadra. "And it does have teeth. it has procedures outlined in it. It's very clear how the notices are to be served and how the personal property is to be impounded and handled.

"This is about communities taking back their public spaces, their sidewalks, their parks, being able to safely navigate those things," said Cuadra's father, Greg Cuadra, chairman of the McCully-Moiliili Neighborhood Board.

The Cuadras said the new law has more teeth than previous ones, and may actually clear the sidewalks. That's something that worries members of the Occupy Honolulu movement, as the law could affect their encampment near Thomas Square. Some of them met with Mayor Peter Carlisle this week, asking that they be exempt from the law because of their First Amendment rights.

"It's unconstitutional what they're doing," said Occupy Honolulu member Michael Vandemark, "and they're saying that they're not targeting the homeless. But who else could they possibly be targeting? Private citizens do not leave their stuff on private property."

Greg Cuadra disagrees with that assessment. "It doesn't (target the homeless). This park is for everyone. This sidewalk is for everyone. It's not a camping place. it's not a place to store your stuff."

Christal Cuadra said it took a while before her call was routed to the correct city department, the complaints branch of the city's Department of Customer Services. "I was surprised today when I called and I was told by customer service that I was the first one that they had received a phone call from," she said.

"I asked when I would see some action taking place, and they said within ten working days, they would have addressed the complaint," Christal Cuadra added.

The city said anyone who wants to file a similar complaint can call 768-4381 during normal business hours.

Her father is a little more cautious, but still has his hopes up.

"I'll believe it when I see it, if you will. I'm optimistic," he said.

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