Council defers bills to ban sitting, lying on sidewalks and public urination

Several bills that would ban people from sitting or lying on the sidewalk have been deferred.

After hearing public testimony Thursday, the Honolulu City Council’s zoning and planning committee voted not to move any of the bills forward.

Members said they did not want to displace homeless people without providing enough shelter to accommodate them.

Bill 42, 45 and 48 would have all, in some capacity, prohibited people from sitting or lying on public sidewalks with exceptions.

“Talking about the chronic homeless, if we pass this bill effective immediately with none of our Housing First units online, they will get arrested,” said council member Breene Harimoto. “They have no money for paying the fine. They have no money for bail. They will be in jail. They’ll have a criminal record. How is that going to help them?”

Members said they would need confirmation of adequate shelter from the housing department before these bills could move forward.

The committee also deferred two bills that would have prohibited public urinating and defecating.

“I have to say that I am very disappointed that the council has chosen not to move forward at this time with our sit/lie bill and our urination/defecation bill,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “These are very important tools in our toolbox that would help us address the evolving and changing homeless problem in our community, which we need along with the our existing tools. The bills looked like they were going to be moved very expeditiously and they were introduced with the council’s support, so I am not sure why the council changed course today.”

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