With homeless campers as a backdrop, mayor expands sit-lie ban
IWILEI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed into law Thursday a bill that expands the controversial sit-law ban to certain sidewalks near businesses in Iwilei and Kalihi.
Caldwell held the bill-signing ceremony in Iwilei, flanked by supporters. His backdrop: Dozens of tents and homeless campers.
"We believe that 'compassionate disruption' does work, that letting people know they cannot take over a sidewalk or a park or a road for other uses than what they were designed for, is inappropriate and we will use the laws that we have to make sure that doesn't happen," Caldwell said.
The restricted area now includes Dillingham Boulevard, Waiakamilo Road, North King Street, and Kohou Street in Kalihi, and Iwilei Road, Kuwili Street, Pine Street and Sumner Street in Iwilei.
Still, the areas' homeless may be tough to house.
"If more shelters would accept pets, I think half of these people would be off the streets," said homeless resident Maria Cabral.
Cabral has had her dogs since they were pups. She sleeps on the sidewalk with them on Kuwili Street, but will soon need to find somewhere else to go.
"I have two dogs. And the shelters won't accept pets, some of them. But I was thinking we were going to go to the Sand Island one because they accept dogs, and if they are planning to expand it then yeah, I'm more than happy to go because I'm not going to get rid of my two dogs," Cabral said.
Hale Mauliola on Sand Island is the only shelter on Oahu that allows pets. But most of the time they're at capacity.
The expanded area in Iwilei does not cover the street behind Lowe's, where some homeless are already moving.
"Unfortunately there will always be those resilient few who need a little bit more of an incentive to get the proper services that they need to hopefully get them into a better housing situation," said Councilman Joey Manahan, who authored the bill.
"Until we can find the right solution for these folks, sit-lie is basically the tool that we have to help us provide that incentive for these folks to get to those services," Manahan said.
It's estimated that close to 140 people camp in the areas.
Outreach workers say they're trying to talk them into existing shelters before enforcing the new law.
Police will begin educating the homeless in the affected areas immediately then will start enforcing in 30 days.
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