Relating To The Regulation Of The Poor and Unwashed:

The actual title of this newly proposed city ordinance is “Relating To The Regulation of Sidewalks – But the intent is clearly: How do we pass a law that keeps poor homeless people from getting in our way?

What the Regulation of Sidewalks law is really saying to the poor and homeless is simply “Get out of my way or I will call a cop who will fine you $50 unless of course you can prove you are mentally ill in which case you are exempt”.

How Catch-22 bizarre is that?  We fine some hapless poor homeless person $50 for blocking a sidewalk and then exempt them if they can prove mental illness.

While perhaps well intended, this proposal is as ludicrous, mean-spirited and Orwellian as the “ban the shopping carts in the parks” law that precedes it.

How far will we go to insure that we don’t have to even look at the homeless in our community who exist in a world most of us can not even imagine?

We have already proven our willingness to take away their shopping carts and everything they own in the entire world, to make sure they stay out of our parks.  Now we want to make sure they stay out of our doorways and sidewalks.  What’s next, another ordinance for alleyways, shopping centers, and parking lots?

Why don’t we just draft an ordinance that bans poor people from being within 20 feet of a non-poor person?  We can call it the Get Out Of My Way or better yet the GOOMFW ordinance.  That should do it.  As we non-poor people move about the city, then the lowest of the low can just GOOMFW when we approach.  Like the parting of the Red Sea, this new ordinance would insure that the genteel among us can stroll unimpeded through-out the city without having to step around some lump of unwashed humanity crouched under cardboard in a doorway or on the side walk.

We can do better than this.  This is Hawaii, land of aloha.  Remember?

Before we go any further down the path of banning the poor and the homeless from our parks and our sidewalks, we need to make sure they have someplace to go – someplace legal, safe and preferably dry.

We need “Housing First”.  We need safe zones where the homeless can safely congregate.  We need increased mental health services, job training and more, much more affordable housing.  And most of all, we need to remember that the homeless are part of our extended ohana and an incontrovertible reflection of who we are as a community.

About garyhooser

This blog represents my thoughts as an individual person and does not represent the official position of any organization I may be affiliated with. I presently serve as volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) I am the former Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. In another past life, I was an elected member of the Kauai County Council, a Hawaii State Senator, and Majority Leader, and the Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii - in an even earlier incarnation I was an entrepreneur and small business owner. Yes, I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet. Please visit my website AND sign up for my newsletter (unlike any email newsletter you have ever gotten, of that I am sure) - “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.” “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!” “Come to the edge.” And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. - Christopher Logue (b.1926)
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3 Responses to Relating To The Regulation Of The Poor and Unwashed:

  1. Kolea says:

    Wow, Gary, you just lost an election. I happen to agree with your post, but I would think you would be tempted to proceed a little more carefully. You just denounced the majority of City Council members for being heartless and short-sighted. I love it.

    I know many of those who frequent the blogs look at everything at the city level through the lens of Rail. But this issue is an example there are other responsibilities facing the City. I ran into Kirk Caldwell about six months ago. He came over and said he hoped I would support him for Mayor. I’ve know n Kirk for a long time and had been fairly close to him in the past, so I spoke to him frankly. I told him that his decision to become Mufi’s city manager had caused a lot of people to see him as Mufi’s lapdog and that this would hurt his chances of regaining trust among the liberals who had once liked him. He said that once he became acting Myor, he would be making his own decisions and hoped people would judge him according to the policies HE would enact.

    Once Kirk took over, he dropped Mufi’s hostile, “law and order” approach to the homeless. He said homelessness was part of a broad set of problems which required action on many fronts. Driving homeless people from the parks without providing them a safe alternative might look “tough” in news stories, but was doomed to failure unless we could provide alternate housing (or campgrounds). These places would also provide an opportunity for social services to connect with the homeless to deal with their problems more efficiently than trying to hunt them down. Or ignoring them completely.

    In other words, he took an approach similar to what you are advocating here. But it was “too little, too late” for him politically. He was defeated because he was unable to solve the problem I had pointed out to him earlier. He was still viewed as Mufi’s boy.

    Carlisle, the Prosecutor, is likely to revert to the Mufi, “Get Tough on the Homeless” approach. It is a shame to see a majority of the councilcritters adopting the same, shortsighted, heartless and DOOMED approach.

    Its good to continue to hear your voice on state and local issues. Thanks for your service!

  2. CLOUDIA says:

    Perhaps if they came up from a deep place one at a time on local TV?

    Warm Aloha from Waikiki

    Comfort Spiral

  3. zzzzzz says:

    Why does keeping the sidewalk clear for pedestrians have to involve solving the homeless problem?

    There’s a general consensus that reducing our dependence on cars for transportation is a good thing. In urban Honolulu, a couple of the primary alternatives to cars are walking and the bus, and using the bus typically involves some amount of walking, to and from bus stops. Your logic suggests that we shouldn’t be taking steps to reduce car dependence until we solve the problem of homelessness.

    It’s too bad the people with the creativity to come up with ideas like living on the sidewalks can’t use that creativity in a manner more aligned with most of our society.

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