CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Homeless people camping in Kapiolani Park face eviction from police. Here, a man who did not want to be identified pushed his cart along Kalakaua Avenue at the park yesterday evening. "I'm usually not here," said the man, who has been without work or a home for about two years. He said he recycles trash and helps clean the park by sweeping the sidewalk.
Police to enforce ban on overnight camping
More than a hundred homeless at Kapiolani Park could be evicted
Police will start enforcing a new city law that restricts camping in public parks overnight, possibly forcing out more than a hundred people staying at Kapiolani Park.
Some homeless living at the park said they'd rather wait and see if the police start evicting people, than peremptorily move into a shelter.
Chuck Mailo, a Kapiolani Park resident for about two months, said he moved to Kapiolani from Aala Park because it seemed safer.
"It's kind of a hard situation," he said. "There are a lot of people medically disabled."
He said that if the police come, he will comply, but thinks the city should give homeless people another place to camp.
"It's pretty callous," he said.
The camping law was passed about a week ago, but authorities delayed enforcing it so the homeless at the park could find another place to stay.
A Honolulu Police Department news release said the camping law may be enforced "at any time now."
"The department is not restricting its efforts to any specific parks or locations on the island," the release said. "The HPD's enforcement will be done in a fair and impartial manner."
Darlene Hein, director of community services for Waikiki Health Center, said the focus is currently at Kapiolani Park, where there have been complaints about the homeless living in tents, which appear like mini-villages in the vast park.
More than 100 people live at the park and the Health Center has been notifying them of the new law, she said.
She said the camping law was expected after the state Supreme Court ruled last November that another camping law was too vague. Since then, police have evicted homeless only from parks that close at night.
Hein said there is room at the Institute for Human Services and Next Step shelter in Kakaako, but some homeless might not want to live in shelters because of the regulations, scrutiny and crowds.
Some homeless seemed agitated with the new law, saying it will simply keep the homeless awake at night, so they can return in the daytime to sleep.
Mailo predicted crime would increase as homeless are sent wandering into the night without a place to sleep. He said he might sleep in a car or at parks that allow camping.
One homeless man at Kapiolani called the law discriminatory.
"It's a law against the homeless," said Mark, who declined to give his last name.
"I can understand their (the city's) point of view," he said. "They (the homeless) got to take their tents down during the day."
But he doesn't want to live in a shelter because it's "drug-infested, bug-infested, and has no room."
His girlfriend, who gave her name as Angela, said she stays at the park because she can't take her Chihuahua-terrier dog into a shelter. She said if the homeless can't sleep in the parks at night, then they can't work in the day.
"It's the sleep we need," she said.