Confusion over Aiea park jurisdiction leads to growing homeless problem

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

AIEA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Residents who live near Neal Blaisdell Park in Aiea said a homeless camp makai of the Pearl Harbor Historic Bike Trail has been there for years.

And despite the city's highly-publicized efforts to move people off the street, the line of tents there keeps getting longer.

Some said the row of tents is reminiscent of the homeless camps that line the streets in Iwilei; but unlike those camps, which are swept once a week, parkgoers said enforcement in Aiea is rare.

The park used to be known for its view of Pearl Harbor but over the years its reputation has changed.

"I don't want to go through because I don't feel safe," resident Wendy Oshiro said.

"I've just seen the problem go from bad to worse. By turning our backs on the problem and letting these people exist out here," said Eddie Cox, of Makakilo.

Cox said he has a job in town and bikes past the sprawling encampment on his way to work.

"When you're going through here even at 10 or 15 miles an hour and someone steps out from a tent that's a half a foot off the bike path right into your path and then their dog chases you. It creates some real hazards," Cox said.

Councilman Brandon Elefante is aware of the concerns and made it a priority to find out who's responsible for the area.

"The east and west boundaries of the park, makai of the Pearl Harbor Historic Bike Trail, would fall under the (city) Department of Parks and Recreation," Elefante said.

The Navy also confirmed it's the city's property saying in a statement, "Even if the homeless encampments are within the bike path corridor, the city and county still has enforcement jurisdiction."

But residents told Hawaii News Now that park closure hours aren't enforced.

City officials, meanwhile, told Hawaii News Now they're still not sure who the strip of land belongs to. But they said if they find out it is on city land they will take immediate action.

"I've never seen anybody come down here," Oshiro said. "It seems like they're cleaning up the town side but they're not doing anything about this side of the island."

Copyright 2017 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.