(Via Star Advertiser)
A new wave of sit-lie bills and other homeless-related measures will get their first airing before the City Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee at a special meeting at 9 a.m. Monday.
Council Zoning Chairman Ikaika Anderson said he wanted to separate the discussion on the five sit-lie bills from an already busy, regularly scheduled committee hearing Thursday.
“Some of my colleagues have been asked by their constituents to introduce the measures (being heard Monday),” he said. “And being that my colleagues have been told these measures are important to their constituents, I’m compelled to hear them.”
Anderson said the bills would not be needed — and the clash with the administration over what Oahu neighborhoods should be under a sit-lie ban could have been avoided — had a bill he introduced last year calling for an islandwide sit-lie ban become law. He said he warned that absent an islandwide ban, “piecemeal legislation” from his colleagues would follow as the homeless migrated away from areas where the ban would be enforced.
“And here we are,” he said.
Anderson’s islandwide proposal failed to gain the support of a majority of Council members after city attorneys questioned whether such a prohibition would pass legal muster.
City Corporation Counsel Donna Leong raised similar concerns about Bill 6. Leong and her staff have stated repeatedly that sit-lie restrictions elsewhere have best been able to fend off constitutional challenges when it can be shown that access to businesses is being hindered by the presence of people sitting or lying on sidewalks.
Anderson said Wednesday, however, that “government cannot be afraid, and should not be afraid, to act because someone’s threatening a lawsuit.”
The five bills being heard Monday:
» Bill 43, introduced by Councilman Ron Menor, would expand the sit-lie ban but would incorporate language that Leong’s office said would have made Bill 6 legally defensible. Menor has voiced concerns similar to the administration’s. It deletes key areas sought by Council members, however, including Kapalama Canal.
» Bill 44,introduced by Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga, would include College Walk Mall and Kili Kalikimaka Mall (between College Walk and Aala Street) in the sit-lie ban.
» Bill 46, introduced by Councilmen Joey Manahan and Ernie Martin, would make it illegal to camp, erect a tent or conduct other activity that “may create a public health and safety hazard” along city-owned streams and stream banks.
» Bill 47,introduced by Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, would add to the sit-lie ordinance “sidewalks on both sides” of streets or sectioned areas where the sit-lie ban applies.
» Bill 48, introduced by Martin and Fukunaga, includes “sidewalks on both sides” of streets or sectioned areas where the sit-lie ban applies, as well as sections of downtown, McCully-Moiliili, Aala and Kapalama.