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Efforts to cleanup homeless camps net truckloads of rubbish

KAILUA-KONA — State and county crews spent a considerable amount of time and effort during the past two weeks dismantling established homeless encampments throughout Kailua Village.

Most notably, state Department of Transportation personnel teamed up with Hawaii Police Department and a private contractor to remove roughly 10 homeless individuals and nearly 10 truckloads of trash from thick brush near the intersection of Palani Road and Queen Kaahumanu Highway, which is state land.

DOT spokesman Tim Sakahara 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 said, 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 were 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 another three homeless people were made to vacate a culvert adjacent to the Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union off Hualalai Road. 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 were recently conducted at Old Kona Airport Park, one in March and one April 18, though amounts of rubbish collected on those dates was not available.

Citations for trespassing during non-park hours also were administered at the park each day. Stender said a total of eight tickets were written during the two days.

DOT cut back the brush at Palani Road and Queen Kaahumanu Highway to almost nothing for the purposes of a thorough cleanup and to discourage the parcel’s further use as a homeless encampment. 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 whom were on the state property have moved further up the hill onto county and (Hawaiian) Telcom property,” Stender said in an email. “Three individuals have been trespassed from (Hawaiian) Telcom property. Future plans include continuing enforcement of park hours at all county parks.”

Email Max Dible at mdible@westhawaiitoday.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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