HILO — The owners of a controversial homeless encampment in downtown Hilo have approximately a month to remove unauthorized structures from their property or face court action.
The owners of the lot, located between Ponahawai and Mamo streets behind Agasa Furniture and Music Store, were issued a formal complaint by the county in mid-June, in response to the unpermitted structures that have been erected on the site.
Since then, however, the owners — two companies called NSHE HI Foxglove LLC and NSHE HI Thistle LLC, which are both owned by Big Island residents Jerilyn Rose and Michael Ravenswing — have failed to respond to the complaint, said Corporation Counsel Joseph Kamelamela.
In response, the Corporation Counsel has filed an entry of default noting that the owners have not responded. Kamelamela said the owners now have a month to remove the offending structures or else the county will seek permission in civil court to do so itself, at cost to the owners.
Kamelamela said the continued presence of the structures has also led the owners to accrue more than $34,000 in fines as of mid-April.
The camp, which is a fenced-off collection of tents and tarps, houses approximately a dozen people, said camp resident Eldred Ikaika.
“People just live here, like anywhere else,” Ikaika said.
Ikaika went on to say that it is his calling to be at the camp so he can educate others about the “dark nature” of the English language, which he claimed was designed by Satan.
The presence of the camp occasionally interferes with the nearby Hilo Farmers Market, said market owner Keith De La Cruz. Vendors and customers have complained of rubbish and illegal dumping near the camp, he said.
Meanwhile, De La Cruz said there have been occasional interactions with camp residents that needed to be “defused” but added that “it’s just a matter of being respectful of other people’s space and property.”
“If they can do that, that’s half the battle,” De La Cruz said.
Other vendors near the camp said the camp residents tend to keep to themselves and rarely make themselves noticed.
“I’m glad they have their space,” said vendor Bruno Curfs recently, adding that the homeless population at Mooheau Park was more disruptive to market operations than the camp has been.
Vendor Natasha Jacobson said the only time the camp has caused any trouble was on one day when loud music was blaring from within the camp.
“I thought it was coming from the next [market stall], it was so loud,” Jacobson said.
Owners Rose and Ravenswing have repeatedly declined to comment on the situation, but Rose previously defended her actions in a letter to the editor of the Tribune-Herald as lawful under Hawaiian Kingdom law.
Email Michael Brestovansky at firstname.lastname@example.org.