State tours possible relocation site for the encampment at Waianae boat harbor

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Jan. 10, 2019 at 6:08 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Oahu’s biggest homeless village could be moving to a piece of state land in Waianae.

On Thursday afternoon, state lawmakers and supporters of Puuhonua o Waianae toured a 20-acre lot in Kaala Valley.

Leaders of the encampment say they started looking at the property that sits off Waianae Valley Road more than a year ago.

The land is part of a 1,100-acre ranch that’s owned by the state and is currently being leased to Kaala Farms and a drug treatment cultural retreat.

While it’s not the only property being considered, it does have advantages.

[Read more: Tears, relief from residents of a Waianae homeless camp after sweep is put on hold]

“The land would cost zero. The partnership would be with the leasees already. The resources are already there to some degree,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

Talk of relocating the encampment, currently sitting on conservation lands at the Waianae Boat Harbor, has been ongoing since March. That’s when the state announced plans for a sweep.

The governor later called off enforcement, but no decision was ever made about where the camp’s 200 residents will go.

Shortly after 1 p.m., the lieutenant governor alongside state Rep. Cedric Gates received a tour of the site and discussed what it would take to make a village a reality. The lawmakers suggested Ohana Zone money could be used as a source of funding.

“I think it could be a good fit as long as all the criteria are met,” said Gates.

James Pakele, a longtime advocate for the encampment, said he’s pleased to see the state showing this much interest.

“To come over here and visit the site and talk to us a little bit more intimately about a possible path forward,” said Pakele.

But before any decision can be made on whether or not to move the village engineers need to come in and see if it’s feasible.

“You need water. You need sewage. You need access. You need shelter areas. You need fire plans. So there’s a lot of work and a lot of infrastructure that’s got to go in before you can put a village there,” said Kaala Farm director Eric Enos.

Green says he wants to see a deal done in the next couple months.

“It’s really a question of the will of the people,” said Green. “I want it done. Whether it’s on this land or land that’s nearby.”

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