City crews were out in Kapalama Tuesday morning to notify homeless there that they have 24 hours to remove belongings from along the canal.
The notice is part of an ordinance that prohibits people from storing items on city-owned property.
Sec. 29-19.1 Declaration of legislative intent – Purpose.
Public property should be accessible and available to residents and the public at large for its intended uses. The unauthorized use of public property for the storage of personal property interferes with the rights of other members of the public to use public property for its intended purposes and can create a public health and safety hazard that adversely affects residential and commercial areas.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says this law, which has been in effect for more than three years, is not sidewalk-driven. “People bring things, large bulky things, and leave them there in a permanent way, and you can’t do that on government city property,” he said.
Crews are expected to return Wednesday to remove any items that have not already been cleared and store them for 30 days. “If they’re not claimed, and for the most part they’re never claimed, then we dispose of them,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell says the city took action after receiving numerous complaints from the community. Rows of tents, bundled mattresses and trash were apparent along both sides of the canal.
“We go to where the complaints are. We don’t decide. We don’t choose we’re going to go here or go there,” Caldwell said. “We get complaints from the community around this island and we tend to go where the largest number of complaints are.”
Caldwell says the city conducts stored property notices and removals on a weekly basis at a cost of approximately $15,000 per month.
Last month alone, crews removed 14 tons of trash, some of which was taken to H-Power to generate electricity, he said.
The idea, according to Caldwell, is to encourage the homeless to seek assistance at designated shelters, like the Institute for Human Services.
“We think it’s safer for them. It’s cleaner for them,” he said. “There are restrooms and they can take a shower, where on Kapalama canal, none of those facilities are available, and it’s not a site for camping or bringing things from other areas.”
Click here to read Article 19 of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu (begins on page 35).
For information on retrieval of stored items, call 768-3585.