A plan to designate three neighborhoods as prostitution-free zones is discriminatory, ineffective and harmful, say opponents of the bill.
Social concerns voiced
Haleiwa eco-camp project lives
By Gordon Y. K. Pang
The City Council voted 5-2 yesterday to give initial approval for the bill that would bar anyone convicted of prostitution from being in Wahiawa, downtown and the Kapiolani area from 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. for one year.
A similar statute already exists for the Waikiki area.
Transgender advocates say those who have conflicts over their gender go into prostitution because of the scorn they face from family, friends and society.
"They eventually end up on the street seeking support and acceptance from other transgenders and begin prostituting to survive," said Ashliana Hawelu, an HIV prevention educator for the Community Planning Group.
Carol Odo of Ke Ola Mamo, a nonprofit native Hawaiian health services organization, said the bill would discourage clients from visiting her office on the corner of Hotel Street and Fort Street Mall.
"We purposely located there because this is where the people who are most at risk for HIV are located," Odo said, noting that the office is often open after 6 p.m.
She estimated that as much as 70 percent of those with transgender issue are native Hawaiian, she said. "So unintentionally ... or maybe subtlely, the bill is targeting native Hawaiians and discriminating against this group."
Darlene Rodrigues of the Needle Exchange Program said that while Hawaii has a fairly low incidence of HIV infection caused by drug injection, that could change.
"We're concerned that this bill would only serve to drive this kind of behavior underground which we would not have access to," Rodrigues said.
A number of opponents to the bill said it would push prostitutes out of the designated zones into other neighborhoods, creating new problems.
But police vice Maj. Susan Dowsett told Council members that the law effectively reduced the number of streetwalkers in Waikiki without encroaching into other neighborhoods.
Councilmembers John Henry Felix and John DeSoto voted against the bill.
DeSoto said he agreed with those who say prostitution wound be pushed elsewhere. He said the solution to the problem is stricter enforcement of existing laws.
The American Civil Liberties Union submitted written testimony against the bill, calling it unconstitutional for restricting free association, travel and other issues.
But Councilwoman Rene Mansho said the bill was not designed to be discriminatory.
"All it's saying is within the boundaries of Wahiawa if you're engaging in this transaction of sex for a fee, and you get caught, you will not be allowed to return to this area."
The City Council kept a controversial Haleiwa project alive by giving developers more time to win approval.
Haleiwa project alive
By a 5-2 vote, the Council granted an extension yesterday of Campers Villages LLC's special management area use permit application for 72 tent-like units at Pua'ena.
Council members said they needed more time to have their questions answered.
Opponents of the project say the extension was requested because there are not enough votes on the now seven-member Council to move it out.
Opponents also say it is a resort and an inappropriate use for land zoned for agriculture.
Supporters say it is a good compromise to a higher-density project and would help boost the economy of Haleiwa Town.
City & County of Honolulu