Criminal trespass bill aims to fight harbor thefts, drug dealing

Criminal trespass bill aims to fight harbor thefts, drug dealing

SAND ISLAND, OAHU (HAWAIINEWSNOW) - There are persistent problems at Keehi Small Boat Harbor that boating division Director Ed Underwood wants to have the power to stop.

"There's all sorts of stuff going on," he said. "There's drug dealing. There's theft."

Harbor regulars say boat break-ins happen all to often.

"I heard a lot of stories about people stealing a bunch of generators, going from little stuff to big stuff," said Dawn Agao, who works for a boat maintenance company.

There's a homeless camp next door to Keehi, and officials say some of the homeless come on harbor property at night.

So Underwood wants to lock some harbor facilities overnight, and Gov. David Ige wants to make it illegal to trespass on all state land when it's closed or restricted.

"If the person doesn't comply they can be arrested and removed from the facility," Underwood said.

Right now, if someone refuses to leave the harbor grounds the worst that happens is a citation.

Senate Bill 2816 creates a new criminal trespass law for state lands.

In testimony in opposition, the ACLU of Hawaii said criminal trespass laws "disproportionately affect homeless individuals and families."

The Keehi homeless camp is under the bridge that leads to Sand Island.

"I see a lot of people over here with bikes, coming from that area," Agao said.

The bill targets anyone who trespasses on state land, including agricultural land and state land under highways. Underwood believes if adopted, the law could also help end water abuse at the boat harbors.

"People are filling up water trucks with the wash down. And the boaters are the ones paying for that water. We're specially-funded. We do not get operating money from the legislature," he said.

Underwood said the problems at Keehi Small Boat Harbor are also happening at harbors in Waikiki, Waianae, Kaneohe and Haleiwa.

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