Skip to main content

Public opposition to Mayor Caldwell's criminalization of the homeless (Bills 42, 43, and their variants)

I've been opposing the endless stream of bills emanating from the Mayor and Honolulu City Council criminalizing homelessness for what seems like years. On reflection, it actually has been years. Introduced in 2011, Bill 54 met vigorous public opposition. But of course, it passed and became Revised Ordinance of Honolulu (ROH) 11-029. Although the Council claimed it was not targeting the homeless, that it was to keep people from storing property on sidewalks, its almost exclusive targets were the homeless. Them and Choon James who had signs critical of the Mayor and City on her property.

[November 17, 2011 hearing on Bill 54 at Honolulu Hale. Laulani Teale is holding a splintered paddle]
The implementation of Bill 54 was thwarted when people learned to comply with the ordinance without leaving the sidewalk. deOccupy Honolulu used color coded tents to openly show compliance with the law. Many homeless learned how to show compliance with the law in the same way. Of course, Council went back to the drawing board and came back with Bill 7, which allowed no-knock midnight raids to seize property from those living in public. Also widely protested, Bill 7 became ROH 13-8. Implementation began in July of 2013 with paired raids on the homeless at 2am and again at 4am to make sure people who had set up after the 2am raiders left would be sure to be left with nothing — no tent, no bedding, no clothes, no food, no ID, no medication.

Without looking it up, I get a little confused about several other bills introduced at around the same time as Bill 7. But I do remember Bill 59, which was introduced at the end of 2013. This bill so directly violated the Kanawai Mamalahoe (the Law of the Splintered Paddle) that the bill was ultimately indefinitely deferred in committee.

But there is a truckload of new bills that are even more extreme now headed toward their third and final full Council meeting this Wednesday, 9/10/2014. Bill 42 one ups Bill 59 in its violation of King Kamehameha's very firmly worded law (enshrined in the State Constitution) by not only criminalizing lying on the sidewalk, but sitting down on it as well. These bills were drafted by Mayor Caldwell and transmitted to the Council where they have been heard twice in committee and twice by the full Council and will be heard for the final time this Wednesday, September 10, on the morning (9am) agenda.

Here's a link to the Council's Agenda. There are links to the texts of Bills 42 and 43, and their variants, Bills 45 and 46.

Opposition during the previous hearings has come from the public at large; from civil rights and Kanaka Maoli activists, attorneys, professors, the clergy, and from the homeless and formerly homeless themselves. Here's a playlist of 25 (most short) testimonies from 27 people. These people are speaking from what they know, not from distributed talking points. This is the voice of the people on the issue:

You can add your voice against these bills. You can register to testify or submit written testimony at this link:

Finally, I wondered why the public outcry against these bills never seemed to matter. The last committee hearing on these bills required five hours of public testimony. Well, I found out why. But that's another story. Stay tuned...

7 September 2014
H. Doug Matsuoka
Makiki, Honolulu


Popular posts from this blog

Love, Truth, and Action: John Kelly's 3 requirements for activists

[I found this essay, originally published in 1997 and simply titled, "Save Our Surf" at Hawaiian Sovereignty activist Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele's Hawaii-Nation website. I have retitled it and added headings and illustrations. All illustrations are from the University of Hawaii's digital collection of Kelly's pamphlets, posters, and photos. The are from protests and demonstrations dating back to the 1960's. 

Kelly's Save Our Surf (SOS) group started in the late 1960's in an effort to protect surfing and fishing sites that were being threatened by corporate development. Not only was SOS successful in those efforts, it helped create legislation protecting our natural resources, and was behind the creation of the first inventory of the public use of Hawaii's shoreline on all islands. — H. Doug Matsuoka]

Love, Truth, and Action
by John Kelly

One often hears dismay over differences among the various [Hawaiian] sovereignty movements today. We belie…

How I stopped worrying and learned to love the bomb

I think my boss at work (a Honolulu nonprofit) is a littled miffed at me. When the incoming ballistic missile warning came in over everyone’s phone this morning, she texted that she had just had training on this and for us to, “stay indoors, preferably on the floor away from windows.” I texted back that I was going to post, “still time to donate” on our website.
I live in a wooden house with windows facing Honolulu International Airport, Hickam Air Force Base, and Pearl Harbor. Given even a sub-megaton airburst at several thousand feet, and that the fatalities from atomic weapons come from the flash, not the blast (the flash of nuclear energy and not the explosive force), I’d be a memory before my body could experience any misgivings about the situation.
My boss is a quarter century younger than I am and lacks the dubious benefit of having lived through the Cold War with the Soviet Union (check history books for those guys). The American national doctrine against nuclear war with the…

What The City Doesn’t Want You To Know About Thomas Square

[This article was originally published by CivilBeat on July 21, 2016. I'm reprinting it with video clips. Doug]

The City of Honolulu plans to close Thomas Square on Aug. 15 for six months and re-open it in February 2017 as something completely different, according to its master plan. Although city officials have unveiled grandiose plans concerning a drastic makeover, there are a number of troubling things they are trying to keep under cover:

1. It will no longer be a public park. The master plan calls for Thomas Square to be transferred from the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, where it is a public park, to its Department of Enterprise Services. What is it? The department runs the Blaisdell Center, the Waikiki Shell, the zoo and the public golf courses. By way of a memo dated April 28 from the city’s enterprise chief Guy Kaulukukui to the state’s head of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the city asked the state to make changes to allow a change of purpose for…