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Frustrations grow along with eyesore on vacant Waimalu property

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 9:53 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 6, 2021 at 10:24 PM HST
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WAIMALU (HawaiiNewsNow) - One man’s trash is no one’s treasure, as a single individual has built up an eyesore on a vacant property in Waimalu.

Nearby residents are complaining that he poses a health hazard, but the city and state say he’s using loopholes to stay on the land.

The eyesore is a growing pile of the man’s possessions, which he has scavenged from the neighborhood. Those things are perched on a narrow ledge above the Waimalu Stream, across from Waimalu Elementary School.

The pile includes everything from discarded furniture, old bicycles, buckets, lockers, and more.

“Stuff falls into the river,” said a longtime area resident who didn’t want to use his name.

“I don’t know how he uses the bathroom.”

The resident said the man has been around the property for years.

“His family owns this property that I’m aware of, and he used to live in the house that used to be on on the land. It was dilapidated. The screens were broken, the front door was broken,” he said.

The property owners had the house removed. First, the man camped on the empty lot. Then, after a fence went up around the lot, he moved onto the ledge above the stream.

“It’s not just an eyesore, but I think it’s potentially an environmental and perhaps even a public health hazard,” said state Rep. Gregg Takayama, who’s been trying to find a fix for more than a year.

So has the city, which said in a statement: “Outreach providers have visited the site and offered assistance and resources, however the person has been resistant.”

The statement also said, “City crews have worked on sanitation efforts to clean the area, however there is a portion of space on private property belonging to his family, where the person will store belongings until crews have vacated.”

That portion of space is a narrow strip of land between the fence put up on the property and a smaller fence just on the outside of the ledge. That’s where the man keeps his things until the city crews leave.

“The city can only do what’s on the outside, but when they come, all he does is pick it up and throw it on the inside,” said the area resident.

Those things — and what they may contain — are ending up in the water, and eventually, the ocean.

“It’s one thing to be homeless, and my heart goes out to them. But it’s another when we are subjected to potential health hazards,” said Carroll Cox of Envirowatch.

Takayama said efforts to work with the property owner have also failed so far. So the pile — and concerns — keep growing.

“We’re all concerned,” said Takayama. “I just wish there was a solution to the situation we face.”

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