Plan to move Hawaii homeless out of tourist meccas

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Plan to move Hawaii homeless out of tourist meccas
A man sleeps near Waikiki Beach, Friday, May 13, 2011 in Honolulu. Honolulu is currently grappling with one of nation's most serious homeless challenges as the city prepares to host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in November. Homelessness threatens to mar the perfect picture Hawaii would like to present to those attending APEC. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
In this photo taken Monday Sept. 8, 2014, a man sleeps near a surf board rental stand at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. The Honolulu City Council is considering proposals to ban sitting, lying down, urinating and defecating on sidewalks and other public areas in Waikiki and throughout the island of Oahu. (AP Photo/Cathy Bussewitz)
In this photo taken Monday Sept. 8, 2014, Jim Trevarthen, 62, watches the surfers near Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. Trevarthen is one of many homeless people who is unhappy with the city's proposals to ban sitting and lying down on sidewalks in the tourist mecca. Honolulu's city council is set to vote Wednesday on a sit-lie ban in Waikiki and Honolulu, aiming to keep homeless people out of sight after pressure from the tourism industry. (AP Photo/Cathy Bussewitz)
A collapsed tent lies on the ground near Kakaako Waterfront Park in Honolulu on Friday, Aug, 8, 2014. The homeless woman who was sleeping in the tent said last night's winds knocked over her shelter. Many of Hawaii's homeless remained outdoors with some refusing to leave as Tropical Storm Iselle approached the island of Oahu. Iselle came ashore onto the Big Island early Friday as a weakened tropical storm, while Hurricane Julio, close behind it, strengthened and is forecasted to pass north of the islands. Iselle is the first tropical storm to hit the state in 22 years. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
A homeless people take shelter in their camp near Kakaako Waterfront Park in Honolulu on Friday, Aug, 8, 2014. Iselle came ashore early Friday as a weakened tropical storm, while Hurricane Julio, close behind it, strengthened and is forecasted to pass north of the islands. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
Karen Penley sits with her son Nakana in Honolulu on Tuesday, July 1, 2014. A Honolulu homeless shelter won't take action against Penley, who is refusing to cover up while breastfeeding or use a private room. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)
Five-year-old Gregory Williams, front left, and 5-year-old Enaia Carrisales play with playdough after a graduation ceremony for Ka Paalana Traveling Preschool in Honolulu on Thursday, June 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher)
FILE - This July 12, 2010 file photo, Beach goers walk past a homeless tent set up on Waikiki Beach in Honolul, HI. Homelessness increased 15 percent on Oahu since last year according to a recent report. A growing number of homeless are not from Hawaii but make the most of their situation by taking advantage of inviting beaches and support services. State lawmakers are struggling with the visible problem of homelessness in tourist areas and some have proposed a contentious idea to use state money to fly the homeless back to wherever they came from. Honoulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell unveils his plan Friday, May 10, 2013 for tackling homelessness, a persistent problem in Hawaii. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia, FILE)
FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2010, file photo Hawaii Department of Emergency Management officers warn homeless campers of the tsunami warning on Maile Beach, in Waianae, Hawaii. Honoulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell unveils his plan Friday, May 10, 2013 for tackling homelessness, a persistent problem in Hawaii. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia, File)
As a Honolulu lifeguard peddles by, a woman is seen walking near Waikiki Beach, Friday, May 13, 2011 in Honolulu. Honolulu is currently grappling with one of nation's most serious homeless challenges as the city prepares to host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in November. Homelessness threatens to mar the perfect picture Hawaii would like to present to those attending APEC. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
Canadian tourists Ivan Tandberg, left, and Lue Jones, right enjoy the sun as a homeless woman sleeps nearby at Kapiolani Park, Wednesday, May 11, 2011 in Honolulu. Honolulu is currently grappling with one of nation's most serious homeless challenges as the city prepares to host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in November. Homelessness threatens to mar the perfect picture Hawaii would like to present to those attending APEC. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
Steven Rente, who sleeps at night at a bus stop near Kapiolani Park, reflects on his situation, Wednesday, May 11, 2011 in Honolulu. Honolulu is currently grappling with one of nation's most serious homeless challenges as the city prepares to host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in November. Homelessness threatens to mar the perfect picture Hawaii would like to present to those attending APEC. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
With the blue waters of Waikiki in the background, a man shaves at a public shower at Kapiolani Park, Wednesday, May 11, 2011 in Honolulu. Honolulu is currently grappling with one of nation's most serious homeless challenges as the city prepares to host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in November. Homelessness threatens to mar the perfect picture Hawaii would like to present to those attending APEC. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
In this Dec. 18, 2009 photo, John Davis lounges in his tent at Kapiolani Park in Waikiki. Davis is one of about two dozen homeless who camp out at Kapiolani Park in the shadow of Diamond Head and Oahu's main tourist destination Waikiki Beach. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)
War Puaala, 47, cooks instant noodles on a portable grill at Ala Moana Beach Park, May 2, 2006 in Honolulu. Puaala, who is currently living at the park, spends his days watching tourists and trying to solve his current situation. Hawaii has a serious homeless problem exacerbated by the soaring rents and property values, and the state is taking unprecedented steps to solve it including a boost in state spending and a new homeless shelter in a prime waterfront area. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
Tom West, 53, shares a laugh while unrolling a sleeping bag on the floor at the temporary homeless shelter in the Kakaako waterfront area, May 2, 2006 in Honolulu. West, who is originally from Boulder, Colo, became homeless in February and moved to Hawaii after reading about the warm temperatures. Hawaii has a serious homeless problem exacerbated by the soaring rents and property values, and the state is taking unprecedented steps to solve it including a boost in state spending and a new homeless shelter in a prime waterfront area. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
A woman sits inside a tent on the sidewalk in front of Honolulu Hale, Tuesday, March 28, 2006, in Honolulu. A group of homeless and protesters vowed Tuesday to camp out in front of City Hall until Mayor Mufi Hannemann explains where he plans to house the hundreds of people who have been kicked out of a downtown beach park. The city evicted the homeless from Ala Moana Beach Park late Monday night to begin a monthlong repair and maintenance project. About 200 people, including children, had been living at the park near Waikiki across from Honolulu's giant mall, Ala Moana Shopping Center. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
A man sleeps on the grounds of Honolulu Hale, Tuesday, March 28, 2006, in Honolulu. On Monday, the city evicted groups of homeless people from Ala Moana beach park in order to begin renovations to park facilities. Homeless advocates say the closure will displace nearly 200 people, including children. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
Dozens of tents crowd Maili Beach Park on the Waianae Coast, of Hawaii, Tuesday, June 27, 2006. Hundreds of homeless people living in tents and makeshift shelters along a 16-mile stretch of scenic beaches in Waianae say they need help to find more permanent housing. (AP Photo/Carol Cunningham)
Sharlene Sotelo's shelter is one of the most elaborate on the Waianae Coast, of Hawaii, Tuesday, June 27, 2006. Hundreds of homeless people living in tents and makeshift shelters along a 16-mile stretch of scenic beaches in Waianae say they need help to find more permanent housing. (AP Photo/Carol Cunningham)
A protester waves to drivers on Punchbowl St. across from Honolulu Hale, Tuesday, March 28, 2006, in Honolulu. On Monday, the city evicted groups of homeless people from Ala Moana beach park in order to begin renovations to park facilities. Homeless advocates say the closure will displace nearly 200 people, including children. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
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By CATHY BUSSEWITZ

HONOLULU (AP) - Jim Trevarthen used to teach tourists how to surf on Hawaii's famed Waikiki Beach.

These days Trevarthen, 62, is homeless after his Waikiki landlord canceled his lease and jacked up the rent, he said. He spends his days reading surfside and figuring out where he's going to get his next meal, and his nights finding a safe place to rest where he won't be shooed away by police.

Trevarthen is one of Hawaii's many homeless people who live on the shores of paradise, but he's feeling the impact of the city's ramped up efforts to move its homeless population away from its tourist meccas.

Under pressure from the visitor industry, the Honolulu City Council is taking up a slew of proposals to ban sitting, lying down, defecating and urinating on sidewalks in Waikiki and other public places.

In another proposal, the city may allow its homeless population to camp on Sand Island, a remote, mostly industrial island far from resorts that was used during World War II as a an Internment Camp for Japanese Americans and is home to a wastewater treatment plant and former dump.

"We are pushing to make it illegal to sleep on the sidewalks of Waikiki, because we've heard from our hotel industry that it's very concerned about keeping Waikiki as an attractive visitor destination," said Jesse Broder Van Dyke, spokesman for Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Tourism officials say visitors are complaining about the islands' homeless population, warning that they may not return for another vacation.

Caldwell gets several letters every week from tourists, especially from Asia, who write to complain about interactions they had with Hawaii's homeless population, Broder Van Dyke said. The complaints range from seeing someone urinate in public to being upset after an intoxicated person confronted a family.

"Waikiki has seen an influx of homeless individuals who sit and lie on the sidewalks making it difficult for pedestrians to walk on the sidewalk or access businesses, which can create an unsafe and uninviting situation," said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, in testimony to the Council.

Homeless people in Waikiki say if the proposals are passed it won't alter their lives very much, because they're already often cited for camping out, racking up tickets they can't afford to pay.

"They're trying to harass everyone, and they're doing a pretty good job of it," Trevarthen said.

Caldwell's administration is working to implement Housing First, a program that will provide permanent housing units for chronically homeless individuals throughout the island of Oahu, aiming to house people in the communities where they reside.

But while $45 million for the program has been approved, it will be about a year before individuals can be moved into permanent housing, Broder Van Dyke said. That's why the city is putting together the temporary "Housing First Transition Center" on Sand Island, which will be operational for one to three years, he said.

At the vacant lot far from hotels and resorts, the city will provide overnight security, mobile bathrooms and a shuttle bus so campers can connect with the island's public bus system.

Banning sitting and lying on sidewalks goes against a Hawaiian tradition encouraged by King Kamehameha I, who encouraged islanders to lie by the roadside without fear of harm, said Bishop Stephen Randolph Sykes, president of The Interfaith Alliance Hawaii.

"We recognize Waikiki is our economic engine, and having our homeless there is not something that is necessarily beneficial," Sykes said, "but creating an island-wide type of situation where we're criminalizing homelessness is just not 'pono,' it's not ethical, because these people don't have any place to go, and we're just pushing them around."

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