City takes new steps to address growing homeless problem on Waikiki Beach

City takes new steps to address growing homeless problem on Waikiki Beach
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - New blue "No Trespassing" signs warn that the area around lifeguard tower 2B at Kuhio Beach is for lifeguards only.

Trespassers can now be prosecuted.

"Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, whether Kuhio Beach is open to the public or whether it's closed from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m., no one can come into this area," Mayor Kirk Caldwell said Wednesday.

The signs, which went up after complaints homeless people were using Waikiki lifeguard towers as shelters, allow Honolulu police to cite and arrest people who camp alongside, under or on the lifeguard tower.

And officers say they'll use that power.

HPD Capt. Richard Schaab said the department wanted the signs posted as "close to line-of-sight as possible so it's highly visible."

"Because it has four sides, we want each side covered," he said.

Last month, Hawaii News Now reported on the growing number of homeless setting up camp on one of the world's most famous beaches. Lifeguards and beach boys said lifeguard towers were increasingly turning into shelters for the homeless.

Tower 2B is the one most frequently used by homeless people, so it got "No Tresspassing" signs first. Lifeguards also recently put up a fence around it.

"No Trespassing" signs will also soon be posted on lifeguard stations near the Moana Surfrider hotel and the Outrigger Reef resort. The city is also asking hotels along Waikiki beach to enforce their no trespassing rules.

City Emergency Services Director Mark Rigg said the enforcement is aimed at addressing public safety threats.

"At times, they're actually smearing things on the tower. And also we've found things like knives and needles under the towers as well," he said.

A lifeguard also recently stepped on a needle.

Rigg said lifeguards treat injured beachgoers under the tower so it needs to be clear and clean as possible.

"It's a safety and health issue," he said.

Meanwhile, Caldwell said LED lights will be installed by September in pavilions along Kuhio Beach Park to discourage people from camping in them when the park is closed.

"Bright lights even when the park is closed usually means fewer people encroach into it," he said.

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