Star Advertiser: 2 homeless bills stall in committee

(Via Star Advertiser)

CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

Homeless on the sidewalks in Kakaako.

Two bills making it illegal for people to “lodge” or otherwise obstruct pedestrians on city sidewalks islandwide were deferred by a City Council committee Wednesday after homeless advocates and council members questioned whether they pass legal muster.

Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga, chairwoman of the Public Works, Infrastructure and Sustainability Committee, called for the deferral to allow time for Corporation Counsel Donna Leong and other Caldwell administration staff to provide more answers.

The two measures represent a shift in policy for the administration, which has supported sit-lie measures in narrowly targeted business zones but had steadfastly refused to support an islandwide prohibition, arguing they would not stand up constitutionally.

Bill 51 makes it a violation punishable by a fine of up to $100 to obstruct or impede a city sidewalk between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Bill 52 makes it illegal to “lodge” on a public sidewalk or other public area at any hour of the day.

City Managing Director Roy Amemiya said Honolulu has “a bit of a problem here in our city with people occupying our sidewalks and our streets and our parks and our doorways. These two measures help to free the sidewalks of obstructions as well as people lodging on our sidewalks in an attempt to make sidewalks what they were intended and that is to traverse our city.”

In some areas, Amemiya said, the sidewalks are so crowded that pedestrians have to take the risk of walking onto a street or highway to travel.

Mateo Caballero, legal director for the ACLU of Hawaii said that Hawaii has the highest cost of living in the U.S. and a lack of affordable housing is a major contributor for the state’s large homeless population.

“We encourage your committee to further consider the causes of homelessness and the effectiveness of the city’s approach, which is not working,” Caballero said. “Looking at the evidence, it will show that criminalization of poverty is incredibly destructive and counterproductive.”

Bill 51 does not stipulate that people will not be cited unless there are sufficient shelter beds available, only Bill 52. There are nearly 2,145 unsheltered individuals on Oahu and not enough beds to accommodate them all, he said.

Several people testified in support of the bills, including residents of Waianae, Chinatown and Waikiki.

Waianae resident Tam Reef said “the explosion of the homeless problem … over the last seven to eight months” is troubling for West Oahu residents. “Our beaches — Pokai Bay, the surrounding areas, Makaha — are simply getting to the point where they are not safe to visit anymore.”

Reef said he finds human waste and drug paraphernalia on the beach and “we deal with violence among the homeless community.”

Waikiki resident Dave Moskowitz said health, safety and sanitation are the key reasons he supports expansion of the sit-lie bans.

Source:  Star Advertiser

Star Advertiser: Biki touts success and plans expansion in Honolulu

(Via Star Advertiser)

By Dan Nakaso

BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM

A Biki rack in Waikiki on Kalakaua Avenue near Paoakalani Avenue in October.

After its first year of operation, Honolulu’s Biki bikeshare program exceeded its ridership goals and is hoping to expand into Iwililei, the University of Hawaii at Manoa and as far east as Kapiolani Community College by the end of the year.

When Biki launched on June 28, 2017, the goal was to see at least 1.7 daily trips for each of Biki’s 1,000 bikes, which would match the average of similar bike programs around the country.

Instead, with 838,662 total trips in its first year, Biki averaged 2.3 trips per bike per day.

And it hit a record of 3.6 trips per bike May 1 during Japan’s “Golden Week,” which coincided with a major convention at the Hawai‘i Convention Center.

“We were more pleased than surprised and gratified that our homework paid off,” said Lori McCarney, CEO of Bikeshare Hawaii, the nonprofit organization that manages Biki, on Monday.

Biki has 100 docking stations from River and Beretania streets near Chinatown to Monsarrat and Kanaina avenues near Diamond Head.

In response to more than 500 requests for more stations, plans are underway to add 30 to 50 new ones — plus 300 more bikes, which would expand Biki’s presence from Dole Cannery to KCC.

The expansion is possible through donations and $1.8 million in federal transportation funds, McCarney said.

In a statement Monday, Mayor Kirk Caldwell saluted the first year of Biki.

“In order for our city to thrive, we need to become a multimodal society and Biki is leading that charge by proving that ‘pedal power’ is not only an environmentally friendly and healthy option, but also convenient and cost-effective,” Caldwell said in a statement.

At Hawaii Pacific Health, Biki members get prorated discounts depending on what plans they’re on as part of the organization’s mission to promote healthy lifestyles.

Among Hawaii Pacific Health’s 7,000 employees, “at least a couple hundred” take advantage of the Biki discounts, said Gail Lerch, the organization’s executive vice president.

“So far I’ve only heard positive things,” Lerch said. “There are some employees that are using it to commute to and from work, like if they live in Waikiki they’ll commute to Harbor Court. Some employees have started using Biki between our Harbor Court office and Straub. Or if you have to go to the Capitol for a meeting, it’s easier to take the Biki rather than to find parking. Some use it more for recreation on the weekends or after work. We have a lot of foodies who go to Chinatown restaurants, and it’s impossible to find parking on the weekends. One of the guys who works for me is in his 50s and takes Biki to go to Straub or other places in the downtown area. So no it’s not just the millennial workforce. It’s for everybody.”

Out of Biki’s current 100 stops, the 20 most used are in Waikiki, the Ala Moana/Kakaako area and Moiliili/McCully.

The most popular Biki stop is near the Honolulu Zoo at Kalakaua and Paoakalani avenues.

But since January, Biki’s eighth most popular stop is on Auahi Street in Kakaako near the “Salt block” of shops and restaurants, McCarney said.

“Biki can support small businesses,” she said. “People who work downtown can easily go to lunch at the Salt block in five minutes.”

A survey, released Monday, of members who signed up for different payment plans — including a one-time single ride — found that 64 percent of Biki riders were Oahu residents.

And 50 percent of members said they use Biki to commute to work.

Some 70 percent of survey respondents did not consider themselves cyclists.

At the same time, 58 percent reported saving money since joining Biki; 55 percent discovered or visited new businesses; 52 percent exercised more; 50 percent said they drive or carpool less; and 27 percent lost weight.

McCarney also is interested in improving the numbers revealed by the survey that found 21 percent of Biki riders are age 50 or older.

McCarney, who is 64, is trying to get people over 50 more involved in Biki through a grant from AARP that likely will result in organized group rides.

“Maybe as they further age they’ll have more healthy transportation in their lifestyle, more affordability,” McCarney said. “There’s opportunity there. Working with AARP we’re going to try some social rides with a purpose — ‘Let’s go get coffee and use Biki to get there.’”

 

Source:  Star Advertiser