City seeks ‘tough love’ bills aimed at getting homeless off streets

Mayor to introduce 'tough love' bills aimed at getting homeless people off sidewalks
Updated: Jun. 29, 2018 at 11:12 AM HST
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Mayor Caldwell will introduce two new bills in the coming weeks. (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Mayor Caldwell will introduce two new bills in the coming weeks. (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Signs will be put up to notify individuals that it is illegal to lye down at bus stops for most...
Signs will be put up to notify individuals that it is illegal to lye down at bus stops for most of the day. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

KAKAAKO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The mayor will introduce two "tough love" bills in the coming weeks that would prevent the homeless from living and sleeping on Oahu's sidewalks.

The first new bill would outlaw obstructions on sidewalks from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The second would make it illegal to live on a public sidewalk or in any other public areas if shelter facilities are available.

The bills also say police have the ability to arrest anyone who refuses to move from a sidewalk after being warned to leave.

At a news conference Thursday in Kakaako, Mayor Kirk Caldwell said it isn't easy to get tough on such a vulnerable population.

"It breaks my heart when I drive down a street like this and I see a sidewalk that has people on it that are basically living on the sidewalk," Caldwell said, motioning to the street behind him.

Across the street from the mayor, near the intersection of Halekauwila and Keawe streets, were several homeless encampments composed of tarps, blankets and shopping carts.

"You have young people, you have seniors, stepping into the street to get around what is on the sidewalk," the mayor said.

Violations under the sidewalk obstruction bill could result in a $100 fine or community service.

"They are tough bills, and I know they will generate controversy, and I welcome that controversy in that debate, because, you want to get this right," Caldwell said.

The mayor also introduced three signs on Thursday that will go up in bus stops and parks. One sign, which will be introduced to bus shelters, tells people that lying down at the stops is illegal from 4 a.m. to 1 a.m.

"Lying down in a bus shelter or bus stop between 4 a.m. and 1 a.m. of the following day is illegal and I appreciate the administration taking action to clearly provide notice," said CouncilmanTrevor Ozawa, in a statement.

"Our covered bus stops are meant to provide shelter for the riders of the bus and should be safe and accessible for riders of TheBus," Ozawa said.

Caldwell agreed: "It pains me, I'm sure it pains all of you, when you drive by a bus stop and you see someone lying on the bus stop with their shopping cart and their blue tarp wrapped around them."

"And you see seniors and little kids with the seniors standing out in the hot sun or the rain because someone has decided to say this is where I'm going to live all day long," Caldwell said.

Another sign serves as a notice that it is illegal to store personal belongings on public property on Oahu.

The sign reads: "Any personal property that poses a threat to the health, safety, or welfare or the public, or interferes with the safe or orderly management of public property, or remains in a public park after park closure hours may be removed and impounded immediately."

Caldwell hopes that the signs and bills will clear up the streets, and encourage the homeless to use shelters.

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