Mayor Caldwell announces mile-long fence along Kapalama Canal to prevent homeless camps

Mayor Caldwell announces mile-long fence along Kapalama Canal to prevent homeless camps
Published: Aug. 19, 2015 at 3:51 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 19, 2015 at 7:06 PM HST
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Homeless tents along Kapalama canal
Homeless tents along Kapalama canal

KALIHI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced Wednesday morning that a one-mile fence will be constructed along the Kapalama Canal from Olomea Street to Kalani Street on both sides of the waterway.

Caldwell and city Facilities Maintenance Director Ross Sasamura made the announcement before the mayor signed Bill 46, which bans camping and setting up tents on the banks of the city's waterways. Violators would face a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to 30 days in jail.

The new law also gives the director the authority to prohibit access of specified city-owned streams, such as Kapalama Canal.

"It will prohibit people from going past the fence and into an area where they may be in danger of falling into the water or getting hurt on the embankment," said Sasamura.

The chain-link fence will be four feet high and cost $240,000. City officials say it should be completed by the end of the year.

"Once complete, we'll have the demarcation areas for the canal itself that will help us further enforce any issues related to unauthorized access, or any disposal of debris, or any other foreign material into the canal waters," said Sasamura.

In recent months, many homeless families have set up camp along the canal. Caldwell said he was responding to concerns from City Councilman Joey Manahan, who represents the area and was one of bill's co-sponsors.

"We're responding to a concern of his community, the Kalihi Community, which says they've had it. They're fed up. And they want something done that's going to change what happens every single day," said Caldwell.

Sasamura said the fence will be built three feet toward the canal from the existing pavement on Kokea Street, where Honolulu Community College students have parked their vehicles. That parking will be eliminated once the fence goes up.

Meanwhile, Caldwell also vetoed Bill 44, which would have expanded the city's current sit-lie laws, which currently prohibit persons from sitting and lying in certain public malls in the Waikiki, downtown and Chinatown areas. It would have expanded the prohibition to College Walk Mall and Kila Kalikimaka Mall, and increase the hours against sitting and lying on Union Mall and Fort Street Mall. Caldwell said the bill would be unlawful because it would include malls that do not provide access to business or commercial activities.

Caldwell said the fence will ensure the safety of people, while the bill will keep the stream clear of debris and pollution and prohibit people from camping along the canal.

"It doesn't mean people won't cut the fence or climb over the fence or go over the bridge and get inside, but now we have Bill 46 to say you can't be there," said Caldwell. "So we have a fence and a bill."

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