City investigates complaints that homeless are dumping raw sewage at Diamond Head

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The cliffs makai of Diamond Head Road are home to some of the most beautiful scenery on Oahu's south shore.

But pictures only tell part of the story.

"You can smell the urine and the human waste," said Stephany Sofos, a real estate expert who lives nearby.

In the shadow of Diamond Head lighthouse, scattered in the brush, are about a half dozen makeshift shelters.

"Homeless take buckets of feces and urine and dump it on the shoreline. I mean you see human feces floating out to sea," she said.

The Institute for Human Services say it's a problem that's happening at most encampments across the island.

"We originally saw it in Kapalama Canal. Right here in Iwilei, they were dumping their waste into the drainage system," said Kimo Carvalho, Institute for Human Services spokesman.

At the same time, Carvalho said, outreach workers have made progress on Diamond Head.

Back in March, the state swept the monument. Three months later no one has returned.

And over the past couple of years, the number of encampments on the city-owned cliffs on the makai side of Diamond Head Road have dropped by more than 50 percent.

But despite a weekly offer of shelter those who are left refuse to go. Drugs are the root of the problem, outreach workers say.

"We do notice needles. We know that there are clinical signs of meth use," said Carvalho.

Sofos said the situation reflects badly on the entire state.

"Diamond Head is an icon. It's the symbol of Hawaii. The city needs to step up. This is not an issue of homeless and no place to go," she said.

It's been three months since the city swept the cliffs.

Although officials say there have been no complaints about raw sewage at Diamond Head -- there have been in other areas.

"Our action steps are to investigate and then to increase enforcement in those areas," said Marc Alexander, of the city housing office. "We may also have to involve other partners like the Department of Health."

As for a long-term solution, the city says it's working to expand its Housing First program.

Hawaii News Now asked the Department of Health if it had gotten any complaints about the area.

Clean Water branch chief Alex Wong said in a statement that the office does get complaints and wants to work with property owners to find solutions.

"We understand this serious state and county concern which requires coordinated and long-term efforts to guide and support good solutions to the human and environmental impacts caused by homelessness," he said.

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