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Testimony in strong opposition to Bill 6

[Bill 6 criminalizing the homeless by subjecting those erecting a tent on a public sidewalk to 1 year in jail and $1,000 fine will be heard by the Public Safety and Economic Development Committee on Tuesday, January 14, at Honolulu Hale. This is the testimony I submitted.]

12 January 2014

To: Chair Fukunaga and the Honolulu City Council Committee on Public Safety and Economic Development:

It is regrettable that the public must learn that your deferral of Bill 59 (criminalizing homelessness) on moral and legal grounds was more display than substance. Bill 6 is worse in every way.

This bill along with Bill 7, which was already passed into law as ordinance 13-8, targets what Councilmember Stanley Chang famously calls an "epidemic of people who are obstructing our sidewalks." Please remind Councilmember Chang that he is actually talking about the homeless members of our community who have been driven out of housing by high cost and low wages. Laws and HPD have also driven them out parks, beaches, woods and other traditional commons housing areas to the dangerous curbside areas of our urban centers.

At the Bill 59 hearing, Councilmember Ikaika Anderson said he was, "not comfortable with Bill 59," and wanted to take a good look at what other municipalities were doing. Why then, is Bill 6, which was first heard almost a year ago, being brought before the public for hearing obviously without looking at other municipalities are doing?

At the same hearing Councilmember Pine noted that the people in her district do indeed "interpret Hawaiian Law very seriously." Does she imagine that the people in her district will not see Bill 6 as a gross violation of the Kanawai Mamalahoe (Law of the Splintered Paddle) merely because it lacks the words "lying down on the sidewalk"? The people in her district regard ordinances 11-029 (2011's Bill 54) and 13-8 (Bill 7) as violations of the Law of the Splintered paddle as indeed they are. And they will regard Bill 6 as a violation of the Law of the Splintered Paddle as well, because it is without a doubt in direct violation of the Law of the Splintered Paddle as incorporated into the Hawaii Constitution at Article IX Section 10.

These questions apply to Bill 6 as they did to Bill 59:
  • How can Bill 6 not be seen as targeting the homeless?
  • How can Bill 6 not violate the US Constitution (Amendments 1, 4, and 14)?
  • How can Bill 6 not violate the Hawaii Constitution (Article IX Section 10)?
  • How will minors arrested under Bill 6 be cared for?
  • Does the City have resources to care for the children of the arrestees who live elsewhere?
  • What help is available for juveniles who have fled abusive situations and arrested under Bill 6?
  • How will the City pay for legal challenges to Bill 6 such as those now challenging Bill 54 and Bill 7?
  • And of course, since it is being heard by the Committee for Public Safety, how does this ensure the safety of the homeless?
Clearly targeting the poor, expensive to implement, disastrous to the least fortunate members of our community, and completely reliant on selective enforcement, Bill 6 violates the Constitutional protections of the 1st, 4th, and 14 Amendments. Its blatant immorality is indefensible and the Committee's attempt to slip this into law is an offense against the public good.

I urge our public servants on the Council to attack the causes of homelessness -- sky high housing costs and rock bottom wages -- and help extend the protection of the law to all members of our community. Your oaths and your duty call you to kill Bill 6.

Mahalo for your public service,

H. Doug Matsuoka


  1. Thanks for this posting Doug M. Could you also post when the next two bill reading will be? Thanks. Also is Food Not Bombs still happening even w/o a camp at Thomas Square? dean the occupier


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