Council passes bill to clear sidewalks

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Giving Honolulu’s sidewalks back to the public.

That’s how a Honolulu City Councilmember describes a bill passed on Wednesday.

It’s now up to the mayor to decide whether to sign the bill, which would give the City the power to immediately remove objects left on sidewalks.

With a unanimous vote, the Honolulu City Council clears the way to make it easier to remove personal property from sidewalks, such as this one, across the Blaisdell.

“That occupation has prevented the general public from being able to utilize that their tax dollars paid to construct and that their tax dollars pay to maintain,” said Ikaika Anderson, councilmember.

The bill allows the City to remove objects described as a “sidewalk nuisance.” That includes tents and furniture. If it becomes law, the city will be able to remove the items, immediately. Under the current law, the city must issue a 24-hour warning before taking any property.

Sugar Russell, who’s been living at Thomas Square for almost a year, is disappointed.

“People that are living on the streets don’t have places to go, they’ve been pushed out of the parks, they’ve been pushed onto the sidewalks, shelters are inadequate,” Russell said.

But Anderson says he is willing to work with the mayor to solve that problem.

“To look at any possible city properties that might be useable for safe zones or for temporary areas where our homeless folks can go,” he said.

If the City takes someone’s property, it will be returned for $200. Anderson says that fee is to cover the cost to do this.

Residents have mixed feelings about the bill and those it affects.

“I actually feel for them, you know?” an Aiea resident said.

“At least it keeps the sidewalk clear and there’s no hazards or smells coming off of the sidewalks, you know, at least they can clean it up a bit,” said Scott Halsted, Hawaii Kai resident.

The mayor has 10 days to make a decision. He has been supportive of the council’s efforts on this issue.

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