A Park Is For The Public — Unless They Are Homeless?

Michael Levine/Civil Beat

I have a confession. I steer clear when stepping around homeless people sleeping in public, especially if they smell particularly unwashed. Part of my anxiety stems from the uncomfortable reminder that some people do not have homes, but my suburban upbringing also is a factor; I think parks should be green and quiet and that sidewalks are for lemonade stands and teenagers without drivers licenses.

The recent unanimous passage of the sidewalk nuisance bill is proof that this is a popular view. In the debate over who and what belongs in our public spaces, Bill 7 was a forceful rejection of the (de)Occupy Honolulu and homeless encampments at Thomas Square Park. Mayor Caldwell called the park an “inappropriate place" for the protestors and chided them for using sidewalks as “they're built for pedestrians, not for camping on."

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