Honolulu seeks to ban bus riders with bad odors

  This silly law seems aimed at homeless people and will give cops an easy way to jail them if they ride a bus.


Council Considers BO Ban

Convicted Offender Could Face $500 In Fines

POSTED: 6:44 pm HST September 1, 2009
UPDATED: 8:11 pm HST September 1, 2009

HONOLULU -- Honolulu City Council members are considering a proposal to ban riders from buses if their body odor is too stinky.

Councilman Rod Tam and Councilman Nestor Garcia introduced the bill to regulate a number of dangerous or annoying behaviors on city buses including bad B.O.

Under the bill, police could cite riders if their body odor annoyed others and a convicted offender could face up to $500 in fines or six months in prison.

"I think it is a bit discriminatory to people but being a bus rider myself I think it would be helpful because some people do have really bad body odor," said rider Meghan Tabadero.

The ACLU of Hawaii called the bill vague and open to discriminatory enforcement.

Other critics called the B.O. ban heavy handed.

"It is not a very compassionate thing to do. People can move away," said rider Tracy Mathewson.

"I don't think it is fair to kick someone off who may be homeless and may not be able to bathe. They may not have a place to bathe," said rider Dwight Ovitt.

Supporters said the goal is to clarify passenger behavior with Oahu's new transit system coming on line.

Tam said he's received complaints about bus B.O.

"People are very concerned they don't want to get sick when they experience body odor... offensive body odor they identify it with germs, diseases," said Tam.

Veteran bus driver Thom Robinson says smelly riders can make it difficult to drive.

"It's horrible -- sometimes you have to get up and open up the vents, and it's just obnoxious," said veteran bus driver Thom Robinson.

Supporters of the bus behavior bill said it also includes and consolidates a lot of other useful prohibitions already on the books such as forbidding spitting on buses, being drunk on a bus or urinating when you are on a bus or at a bus stop.

The city transportation services department supports the bill pending legal review saying much of it is already law.

On 9 a.m. Thursday morning, the council's Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on the bill that includes the provision to ban stinky bus riders.


Honolulu seeks to ban bus riders with bad odors

Sept. 1, 2009 02:59 PM

Associated Press

HONOLULU - Stinky city bus riders soon could get soaked.

The Honolulu City Council is considering a bill that would impose up to a $500 fine and/or up to six months in jail for public transit passengers convicted of being too smelly.

The bill will be heard Thursday in committee. It would make it illegal to have "odors that unreasonably disturb others or interfere with their use of the transit system." It doesn't matter if it's body odor or offensive fumes that emanates from clothes, personal belongings or animals.

Councilmen Rod Tam and Nestor Garcia co-sponsored the anti-odor bill.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii says it is concerned with laws that are inherently vague, which opens the door to discriminatory enforcement based on an officer's individual prejudices.


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