County escalates action against owners of Hilo lot

HILO — Hawaii County intends to go to court next month over a downtown Hilo property that has become a homeless encampment.

A Hawaii County attorney is filing a motion today for an order that would compel the owners of a lot, located between Ponahawai and Mamo streets, to comply with county orders to clear unpermitted structures from the property.

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Corporation Counsel Joseph Kamelamela said Thursday the motion will enjoin the owners — two companies called NSHE HI Foxglove LLC and NSHE Thistle HI LLC, both owned by Big Island residents Jerilyn Rose and Michael Ravenswing — to cease further development on their property and order them to remove all unpermitted structures.

The motion also will authorize the county to remove the structures from the lot, should the owners fail to do so, and orders them to attend a hearing on Sept. 13 regarding the issue.

Kamelamela said the property owners are liable for fines, but a current total was not immediately available. The owners had accrued more than $34,000 in fines by mid-April.

The camp has stood on the lot for months, progressing from a vacant lot to a fenced-off collection of tents and makeshift structures built on a concrete foundation.

“There’s more and more people there now,” said Irene Agasa, co-owner of the adjacent Agasa Furniture and Music Store. “There’s a lot more traffic, like people on bikes now, and they’re really rude.”

A camp resident previously said in July that about a dozen people reside in the camp.

Agasa said she had expected the county to address the issue sooner, saying she has waited “for a long time” for someone to deal with the camp. Residents of the camp generate a lot of noise, Agasa said, from playing loud music to using hammers and power tools for some unclear purpose.

While Agasa said the camp does not generate undue waste — Rose claimed in a May email that she herself removes trash from the lot every week — she mentioned that the unpermitted concrete foundation on the lot interferes with rainwater drainage, causing rainwater to pool by her store’s loading dock. Although a portable toilet is visible in the camp, Agasa said it is unclear who empties it, if it is emptied at all.

The fences around the camp are festooned with signs and banners declaring the camp as part of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Since the start of the protests against the Thirty Meter Telescope began in mid-July, a sign reading “Saddle House” was placed on the main gate to the camp, possibly a reference to where the protests are located, the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, also known as Saddle Road.

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Rose did not respond to requests for comment Thursday. However, she stated in April that she intends to restore executive power to the Hawaiian monarchy and that “corporate power” is unlawful on her property, which she claims to be “in the lawful Hawaiian Kingdom.”

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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