Council unanimously passes sidewalk nuisance bill

Published On: Apr 17 2013 11:29:01 PM HST   Updated On: Apr 17 2013 08:52:54 PM HST

Councilman Ikaika Anderson held up pictures of De-Occupy Honolulu campers at Thomas Square before the Honolulu City Council passed Bill 7 by a vote of 9-0 Wednesday.

After nearly 18 months at Thomas Square, Anderson said residents are getting fed up with tents and other items that protestors place on city sidewalks surrounding the historic park. 

"Enough is enough," said Anderson as the Council discussed the bill. "Let's pass Bill 7, (and) return our public sidewalks to all of Honolulu's citizens."

Sugar Russell, a De-Occupy protestor who has acted as a spokesperson for the group, said the bill would do little to improve the "houseless" situation on Oahu.

"They're about to do a sweep on this island that is going to absolutely cripple the entire houseless population, stealing the medications, school books (and) clothing," said Russell. "Anything and everything these thieves can get, is what they're going to do."

Bill 7 was sponsored by Anderson, Council Chairman Ernie Martin and Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi. Martin denied the measure specifically targets De-Occupy protestors, saying enforcement would prove his point.

"The true test is going to come when the mayor signs this into law and directs his administration to apply this law uniformly and fairly against all violators of this particular matter," said Martin.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell has said previously he intends to sign the bill into law, which would allow the immediate confiscation of personal property from sidewalks. The city is required to leave a written notice whenever taking items into its possession.  Property owners then have 30 calendar days to retrieve their items, but are also required to pay a $200 fee. 

"It's unreasonable," said Russell, "the facility is three miles away from the nearest bus stop."

The mayor has 10 business days to make his decision on the bill. However, city spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke said enforcement won't come until July 1 at the earliest, since the legislation requires the drafting of new administrative rules.

Broder Van Dyke says the city will continue to enforce an ordinance that requires sidewalk violators to be given 24 hours notice before personal items can be confiscated.

Russell said the De-Occupy movement has already identified loopholes in Bill 7, but would not reveal what they are.

"We are very good at finding them and we have them, but that's going to be in discussion with our lawyers," Russell told KITV4.

The Hawaii chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has come out previously against the bill, saying it could violate the U.S. Constitution's provisions on freedom of speech and the equal protection clause.

Phone calls and emails made to ACLU on Wednesday were not returned. 

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