KAILUA-KONA — State and county crews spent a considerable amount of time and effort over the last two weeks dismantling established homeless encampments across Kailua Village.
Most notably, state Department of Transportation personnel teamed up with the Hawaii Police Department and a private contractor to remove about 10 people and 10 truckloads of trash from thick brush near the intersection of Palani Road and Queen Kaahumanu Highway, which is state land.
Tim Sakahara, DOT spokesperson, said four truckloads carrying roughly 15 cubic yards of rubbish were pulled from a culvert running underneath the highway near Henry Street. That area is known locally as the Tunnels.
Only one homeless person was on site at the Tunnels the day of the removal, Sakahara continued, while two were offered notification the week prior that a cleanup was coming. Huxley Reeves, a homeless man who lives on the streets in Kailua-Kona, guessed between six and eight individuals had been residing in the culvert.
Reeves and two other individuals were moved off Alahou Street, which connects to Henry Street behind the Aloha Island Mart. A couple tents and a small pile of personal belongings were removed from the roadside.
At least three other homeless people were made to vacate a culvert off Hualalai Road that runs adjacent to the Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union. Trash from that site filled six small passenger crew cabs and one large dump truck, said Barbara Kossow, Hawaii County deputy managing director.
HPD also conducted park sweeps, which Community Policing Sgt. Joseph Stender said happens three or four times monthly. Two trash cleanups have been conducted at Old Kona Airport Park recently, one in March and one on April 18, though amounts of rubbish collected on those dates was not available.
Citations for trespassing during non-park hours were also administered at the park each day. Stender said a total of eight tickets were written over the two days.
For a thorough cleanup and to discourage the parcel’s further use as a homeless encampment, DOT cut back the brush at Palani Road and Queen Kaahumanu Highway to almost nothing. However, several tents popped up farther mauka almost immediately after the state cleanup concluded, and are visible to motorists from the road.
“It appears parties who were on the state property have moved farther up the hill onto county and (Hawaiian) Telcom property,” Stender wrote in an email to West Hawaii Today. “Three individuals have been trespassed from (Hawaiian) Telcom property. Future plans include continuing enforcement of park hours at all county parks.”