Five bills that would make it illegal to lie down on city sidewalks or urinate and defecate in public survived votes by the nine-member Honolulu City Council Wednesday.
The major difference between the bills is whether the prohibitions should be instituted island-wide, or only in certain districts.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell wants the proposed bans to apply only to the Waikiki Special District, while Councilman Ikaika Anderson wants to take the sanctions to all of Oahu.
Meanwhile, yet another sit-and-lie bill by Councilman Ron Menor would apply the only to commercial and business districts. Menor feels his bill (Bill 48) is a suitable compromise that would satisfy the mayor as well as colleagues on the council.
“Commercial and business areas are adjacent to sidewalks that are heavily utilized by pedestrians and it’s the feeling or belief of council members that in those areas, pedestrians should be able to use those sidewalks without any impediments or obstructions,” Menor told KITV4.
However, Councilman Breene Harimoto believes Menor’s bill could be too difficult to enforce, since commercial and business districts are not readily identifiable through signage.
“You can’t tell whether you’re in a business district or commercial district just by walking down the sidewalks, unless we paint lines or HPD is walking around with a zoning map,” said Harimoto.
Menor’s bill passed first reading Wednesday by a vote of 9-0, but that doesn’t necessarily signal overwhelming support. Council members often vote yes on first reading to foster further debate.
The council also passed Bill 42 on second reading, the mayor’s proposal to ban lying down on sidewalks in the Waikiki Special District. The vote was 7-2, with council members Kymberly Pine and Harimoto voting no.
Bill 43, also introduced by the mayor, passed the council on second reading 9-0. The bill would make it illegal to urinate or defecate within the Waikiki Special District.
Bill 45, introduced by Anderson to prohibit lying down on sidewalks island-wide, passed second reading 7-2, with council members Harimoto and Joey Manahan voting against it.
Bill 46, again introduced by Anderson, would make it illegal to defecate or urinate in public anywhere on Oahu. That measure also passed 7-2, with council members Harimoto and Pine in opposition.
After the votes were taken, Pine issued a news release saying it was her intent to vote yes on Bill 46, but a clerical error led to a no vote. She said she would continue to vote against any bill that prevents people from lying down or sitting on sidewalks, since she feels such legislation targets the homeless.
During the council’s afternoon session, a disabled homeless man passed out sanitary pads to council members and held up a portable urinal to demonstrate how bills 43 and 46 would disproportionately impact those without shelter.
“We don’t have a place to go a lot of times,” said David Cannell. “And so, we’re expected to poop in our pants? Is that it?”
Those who represent the Hotel industry testified it’s not the intention of the proposed bills to target the homeless, but the economic muscle of Waikiki must be protected.
“What we’re discussing here today is whether we can keep the sidewalks in Waikiki available for the general public (and) for our visitors,” said Rick Egged, president of the Waikiki Improvement Association.
“If we do nothing,” added Outrigger Hotels lobbyist Max Sword, “pardon the pun, we might as well be she-shing Waikiki down the drain.”