New proposal makes it illegal to lie down at bus stops

First, it was a law that bans lying down on city sidewalks.

Now a city councilman wants to take it a step further, by making it illegal for people to lie down at bus stops.

Councilman Trevor Ozawa told KHON2 he’s been working on the proposal after receiving several complaints from the community.

He said safety at bus stops is an island wide concern, in particular people sleeping and taking space around bus stops.

“People feel unsafe when they get to the bus itself,” Ozawa said. “The community was requesting us to clear out certain bus stops consistently, specifically in the Kahala and Waikiki areas for me.”

If it becomes law, the ordinance would ban people from lying down in a designated bus stop area.

This includes lying on a tarp, towel, blanket, sleeping bag or any other object.

The ordinance would be in effect during regular bus hours. There are some exemptions including people with medical conditions, people engaged in expressive activity such as expressing their first amendment rights, any person engaged in a maintenance, repair, or construction activity on behalf of a governmental activity or a public utility, and children under 6 years old.

Despite the language in the bill, Ozawa said the proposal is not about homelessness.

“That’s not what the bill is intended for. It’s to get people out of the way. If you’re laying at the bus stop, regardless if you’re in a three-piece suit or whether you have a trash bag next to you, you can’t be preventing people from getting on and off,” Ozawa said. “What it comes down to is a common respect for people trying to use public transportation.”

KHON2 spoke with bus riders about the bill.

“It’s kind of a tough issue,” said one bus rider, who did not want to be identified. “I feel sorry for the person sleeping there but on the other hand I can understand the person waiting for the bus.”

We’re told there are 3,800 bus stops across Oahu.

We reached out to the city and learned many bus stops are cleaned once or twice a month.

A spokesman told KHON2 there are designs at bus stops like benches with dividers and individual stools to keep people from sleeping there.

If the proposal passes, anyone caught violating it could be fined up to $50.

The bill will be discussed at the city council meeting next month.

 

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