Monday, June 01, 2015
Word on tourist beach citations spreads to San Francisco, Korea, New Zealand, and beyond
by Larry Geller
The word is spreading that tourists are being cited for staying on the beach after midnight. Mayor Caldwell’s “compassionate disruption” could backfire if this gets into the Japanese press.
From the San Francisco Chronicle website SFGate:
Hawaii News Now reported (http://bit.ly/1eGRoKr) that one in five of the citations issued for nighttime beach visits have gone to tourists, according to city prosecutors.
Honolulu began closing popular Waikiki beachfront parks at midnight to stop homeless people from settling. Violators receive a criminal citation, which could become a warrant if they do not show up in court.
Those who pay the fine will have a criminal mark on their record, and that could cause non-citizens to be refused entry to the U.S. if they return.
[SFGate (San Francisco Chronicle), Honolulu homelessness crackdown catches tourists, 5/31/2015]
[The Huffington Post reported on Jun 4 that the AP has issued a correction: In a story May 30 about Honolulu's attempts to crackdown on homelessness, The Associated Press reported erroneously that one in five of citations issues for nighttime beach visits went to tourists. The city says about 7 percent of citations issued in 2015, not one in five, have gone to non-residents.]
The picture is one of several slides in the article. What a contrast—the popular and very recognizable Waikiki Beach with Diamond Head in the distance, and the news that tourists may get criminal records if they linger too long on the sand.
Here’s an article from the web in Korean. I don’t know how popular that website is, but clearly, the bad news is spreading:
This happened to my friend when we were last in Hawaii! He was sitting on the beach to the left of the pier down by the Honolulu zoo! It was about half past midnight and he wasn't the only person on the beach yet a police officer seemed to ignore them and went straight to my friend and handed out the fine and court date there and then!
He said the officer was really aggressive and told him he was lucky not to be arrested! He spent the next day trying to sort a court date for whilst we were there! Another police officer actually apologized to him for the hassle and the way he was spoken to!
After making many calls and talking to a whole bunch of people he managed to arrange a new court date on the last day of our holiday! He accepted that he was technically in the wrong but it did leave a sour taste in his mouth!!
I can’t remember for sure—the articles mention that there are signs, but I recall that hotels may open directly onto the sand and there are no signs. Could be wrong on this. Also, of course, a visitor who doesn’t speak or read English may not check the signs or realize the meaning. For that shortcoming, they could end up with a criminal record.
Meanwhile, the city can either fix this, or suffer the perhaps inevitable consequences, now that the news of citations and criminal records is spreading. That one in five citations is going to tourists should be exceedingly troubling to them.
Maybe also the tourism business lobbyists who testified so strongly in favor these laws will change their tune, should their pet solution to “their” homeless problem backfire on them.