Honolulu mayor signs bills banning sleeping on pubic sidewalks
Officers must verify, offer shelter space
HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has signed into law two measures banning obstructing and sleeping on public sidewalks.
Caldwell said the bills signed Thursday aim to keep sidewalks clear for pedestrians, but opponents claim the measures unfairly target homeless people.
Under the first bill, it is illegal to “create, cause or maintain” an obstruction on a public sidewalk if it blocks people from passing freely during daytime hours. People found in violation could be fined up to $100.
Under the second bill, “to lodge” on a sidewalk or in other public places is a petty misdemeanor. The measure’s definition of “to lodge” includes sleeping and “to occupy a place temporarily.” Officers must verify if shelter space is available within a reasonable distance and then offer to take the person there before they can issue a citation.
The Honolulu City Council approved the measures earlier this month. The council inserted a stipulation into both bills, requiring Caldwell’s administration to first submit a report detailing how the city is addressing homelessness before the laws can go into effect.
The city Department of Community Services is expected to submit the report in the coming days, but it must be approved by the council before the measures are implemented.
Caldwell said that signing the bills without being able to implement them is “not taking action.” He said the measures aim to “take back our public spaces and our sidewalks.”