Homeless campers move before city crews enforce sidewalk nuisance law

homeless on sidewalk

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Homeless campers in Kakaako were clearing out the sidewalk Monday on their own before city crews arrived.

Because of a new city ordinance, any item considered a sidewalk nuisance can be removed without warning. If you want to have your items returned from storage, it’s now a $200 fee and you have only 30 days to get it back. If you don’t it will be sold or destroyed.

“I think it’s absurd to charge that fee to pick up things that mean that’s too much to them,” homeless camper Robin Kelley said.

“They make it so out-of-the-way place to get there and $200 no one has money like that out here,” homeless camper John Mantaona said.

The city went to three known problem areas in Honolulu on Monday to roll out the new tool.

The majority of campers opted to have their items trashed on the spot and not pay the fee.

“We don’t want to store anything, it’s a burden on us and it takes up space we want to through notices say please if you have things you value please remove them,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said.

Surprisingly, many of those who were camping on the sidewalks were packing up even before city crews arrived.

Shelters and service providers spent last week reminding them to clear out and offering help.

“We need to keep our public spaces open to the public and secondly we need to make sure that those who have he ability to receive services should have those services,” Institute for Human Services Director of Development Marc Alexander said.

IHS has 40 spaces open in its men’s shelter, 30 beds in its women’s shelter, and some additional spaces at its family shelter.

The mayor says he intends to do these sweeps on a regular basis. Daily, even at night and on weekends, hitting problem areas twice in a day if needed.

“I call it reinforcement enforcement to break this habit of people moving back and forth,” Mayor Caldwell said.

Along with Old Stadium Park, city crews removed items from the Ala Wai Promenade and in Moiliili.

They will assess how it went and begin daily sweeps starting on Friday.

Click here for the text of Honolulu City & County Ordinance 13-8 (PDF)

Purpose. HRS Section 46-1.5(12) authorizes the City and County of Honolulu to enact and enforce ordinances necessary to prevent or summarily remove public nuisances and to compel the clearing or removal of any public nuisance from sidewalks. The purpose of this ordinance is to authorize the summary removal by the city of public nuisances from the sidewalk.

“Sidewalk-nuisance” means any object or collection of objects constructed, erected, installed, maintained, kept, or operated on or over any sidewalk, including but not limited to structures, stalls, stands, tents, furniture, and containers, and any of their contents or attachments.

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