New Canopy Laws in Hawaii

A recent article goes over a new law on Honolulu regarding canopies and shopping carts in the city’s parks. The law seems to be a direct measure to get the homeless out of the parks, particularly with rules like Bill 7-10 that require all to get a permit before using a tent at the park. Nevertheless, those claiming to create the bill say it’s designed to reduce homelessness and makes parks “available” and “accessible” to the public. But, if you read the article, it brings up a few questions regarding distinctions: What counts as a canopy and what counts as a tent?

It’s clear that, in the article, a tent is defined as a structure with at least one wall. But, also, one of the quotes mentions that temporary and pop up canopies are still allowed without a permit. However, what happens as soon as you put some type of wall on a pop up canopy? In many instances, particularly with heat, rain, and insects, an extra screen or polyethylene wall is brought along and attached to the sides of a pop up structure. Would, in this instance, the pop up canopy immediately become a tent? Probably and, if you live in Honolulu, getting a permit for such a structure is probably recommended, even if you don’t put up a screen or side walls.

Another issue this article brings up is how is banning tents and shopping carts from the city’s particular parks going to combat homelessness? Instead of hanging around the parks in the evening, Honolulu’s homeless population will probably, instead, look for another area or find a shelter. If the city was truly concerned about the homeless – and not just about making the parks friendlier to the public – they’d find a better alternative for the homeless currently there.