Local lawmaker has smash-up solution for wayward shopping carts

By Andrew Pereira
Published On: Nov 18 2013 05:42:00 PM HST

Fed up with the lack of progress over homelessness, Rep. Tom Brower has taken matters into his own hands. Those hands are holding a sledgehammer!

HONOLULU -

Rep. Tom Brower wants to be a sledgehammer when it comes to the issue of homelessness in Waikiki. Actually, he wants to solve the problem of unsightly shopping carts by demolishing them to bits.

"I get a lot of complaints about stolen and abandoned shopping carts in Waikiki, and I was thinking as a public servant, 'What can I do that would be practical and I can literally do overnight?'" said Brower.

Click here to watch Andrew Pereira's report.

Since late October, Brower has been dismantling shopping carts commandeered by the homeless with a sledgehammer. He estimates he's destroyed about 30 of them so far.

Brower compares his unconventional method to anyone who seeks to remove blight and graffiti from their neighborhood.

"I'm not doing anything different than doing a community cleanup, or what the city's administration has tried to do with the issue of people illegally camping on the streets," said Brower. "I'm just doing it quicker."

Brower said he targets shopping carts that are in an obvious state of disrepair and actually returns those that are in working order. Usually, that means wheeling them to a nearby grocery store.

"So far, all the carts that I've taken have been abandoned," said Brower. "Some have been near people who are homeless, and I have told them that it's my intention to take the cart."

However, Brower's smash-up solution isn't sitting well with everyone. His legislative aide says emails have been mostly positive, but phone calls mostly negative. One of those taking issue with Brower is the state's Homeless Coordinator Colin Kippen. In an interview with KITV4, Kippen said Brower's method is completely wrong, and urged him to reconsider.

"It's not advisable (and) not smart," said Kippen. "It's mean-spirited and is vigilante justice."  

Brower, who chairs the Tourism Committee, has been brainstorming solutions for Oahu's homeless problem for years. Most recently, he advocated creating safe zones where the homeless can set-up tents close to lavatories.

"I believe we should have some type of homeless camp ground because a lot of people on the streets, either they don't have the discipline to go to the shelter, or they don't want to," he said.

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