Sunday, August 24, 2014


Study suggests that Honolulu’s sit-lie bill is likely to be unconstitutional as applied

The following is from an email circulated by activist Kathryn Xian:

UC Berkeley Study - Honolulu Bills Outlawing Sit-Lie on Sidewalks Likely to be Unconstitutional As Applied - Attract Costly Lawsuits

As you may or may not know, the Honolulu City Council will hear 5 bills seeking to criminalize the houseless by making it a crime to sit or lie on the sidewalk. These bills are modeled after a Seattle law.

Though the Seattle Sit-Lie law was found Constitutional on its face (or as written) by the Ninth Circuit Court, but what the Mayor DIDN'T say was that the Ninth Circuit ALSO said that future "as applied" challenges to the law would be successful (Cooter, et al, p. 3). "As applied" refers to the acts that are committed when a law is practically applied.

Furthermore, the UC Berkeley research report by the Law School's Policy Law Clinic found "no meaningful evidence to support arguments that sit-lie laws increase economic activity or improve services to homeless people."

Future lawsuits will cost the taxpayers dearly in addition to: Arrest, Court, and Incarcerations costs, ER costs for mentally ill homeless persons, current City Raids (which cost $15,000 per raid, not including storage costs).

Read the full report:

The expectation that the law will fail “as applied” in Honolulu is what makes this report very relevant. And Kathy is right in focusing on costs—this blog has long emphasized the taxpayer cost of the City and State’s failure to implement evidence-based remedies to homelessness.

Instead, the City has implemented ordinances that do nothing to assist people living on the streets to move into sustainable housing and receive services that lower taxpayer costs and actually benefit people. In fact, when you see tents at the edge of the sidewalk, remember that it is City ordinances that have forced them to be there.

Kathy also noted that the study reports there is "no meaningful evidence to support arguments that sit-lie laws increase economic activity….” Despite our daily paper’s focus on the negative effects of homelessness on tourism in Waikiki, in fact, as we learned when estimates were revised, tourism is booming. Whatever effects homeless brings (and there is no denying that there may be effects), they have not put a dent in the tourism numbers to-date.


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