Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed a bill into law Wednesday that prohibits camping along city streams.
He officially signed the bill on Kohou Street near Kapalama Canal, where there is a homeless encampment.
Caldwell said city workers cleared the embankment along Kohou Street Tuesday, removing tents, structures and debris. Yet by the time the city held its press conference Wednesday, the tents had returned.
“Bill 46 gives us an additional tool to keep our streams and canals open and clear so that public safety is addressed and cleanliness is addressed and also flooding issues are addressed,” he said. “We’ve had threatening storms and hurricanes come through and when those happen, this becomes a waterway to keep flooding from occurring and water can rise quickly. It’s not designed for people to live along or to put structures on.”
Bill 46, CD1 outlines the following:
Sec. 41-_.2 Regulation of city-owned streams,
(a) It is unlawful for any person to do the following on any portion of a city-owned stream or city-owned stream ñparian zone:
(1) Camp without a permit;
(2) Erect a tent or structure without a permit;
(3) Enter into or upon the stream or stream riparian zone if public access has been prohibited by the director and signs indicating the prohibition have been posted; and
(4) Engage in any other activities prohibited by the director, if signs indicating the prohibited activities have been posted.
Violators can be cited for a petty misdemeanor and face up to a $1,000 fine or 30 days in jail.
Caldwell also confirmed that a chain-link fence will be built along both sides of the canal, which KHON2 reported last week.
It will be four feet in height and run from Olomea Street to Kalani Street.
The project was budgeted at $240,000.
Ross Sasamura, director and chief engineer, Department of Facility Maintenance, says once an official notice is given, the contractor will have 90 days to complete the work, before the year’s end.
“It will prohibit people from going past the fence and into an area where they may be in danger of falling into the water or getting hurt on the embankment,” he said.
“It doesn’t mean people won’t cut the fence or climb over the fence or go on the bridge and get inside, but now we have Bill 46 to say you can’t be there. So we have a fence and a bill that hopefully will result in a different pattern than what we’ve seen in the past, keeping this place open and safe as a drainage system, as a canal, and we won’t have a repeat of the problem we have,” Caldwell said.
With the installment of the fence, city officials say parking will also be eliminated on Kokea Street, from N. King Street to Dillingham Boulevard.
Also Wednesday, Caldwell vetoed Bill 44, which would in part expand the sit-lie ban to additional malls and add hours, including some 24-hour restrictions on weekends.
“If all of us on a Sunday night go down to Union Mall, I can promise you no business is open. There is no commerce being conducted,” he said. “Yet this new law would apply to that situation. I think it opens it up for a challenge that we would have a hard time defending, so I’m very troubled by this.”
Caldwell signed four unrelated bills into law Wednesday: