State's plan to clear Kakaako homeless encampments delayed

State's plan to clear Kakaako homeless encampments delayed

KAKAAKO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kewalo Basin Park has a line of tents and makeshift shelters. More homeless people have moved into Waterfront Park.  The state counts 110 tents combined. The parks are off limits after closing time but the state is delaying enforcing the rule.

"We need to secure outside resources to help assist us with the disposal of abandoned items that may be left behind in the park following enforcement," state Coordinator on Homelessness Scott Morishige said.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority controls both parks.  The state agency said, "If one component is missing, then the enforcement would be ineffective and could not proceed."

"They've contacted eight different vendors," Morishige said. "So far all eight of the vendors they contacted have declined."

Even the city can't help.  Facility Maintenance director Ross Sasamura said his crew is busy enforcing city ordinances. HCDA said private vendors turned down the Kakaako job because of inadequate staffing, scheduling conflicts, and fear of negative publicity because they'd be clearing homeless people's property.

But HCDA did not call the local office for 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

"We would be very interested in working on the project," Oahu general manager Andre Betito said.

The waste management hauler has a strong interest in the Kakaako parks job. And the company has experience picking up and dumping homeless people's abandoned property.

"We do it all the time, whether it's on someone's stoop at a business and they need to remove it or projects for the state and county we've already worked with on before.  We're happy to work on whatever we can to make the problems go away," Betito said.

Kewalo Basin Park is closed from 10 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Waterfront Park closes at 10 at night and opens at 6 in the morning.

"We're continuing to send individuals in to the park to notify all the park users of park closure hours," Morishige said.

But Sheriffs haven't issued any citations and homeless campers haven't been forced to leave. Until HCDA secures a contractor the state won't begin enforcement action at the Kakaako parks.

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