City takes back Kea'au Beach Park

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

WAIANAE (HawaiiNewsNow) - A makeover at Kea'au Beach Park in Waianae is underway.  The city moved out about 200 homeless people there and is in the process of making the park usable to the public again.

City crews started with removing all the rubbish left behind.  More than 16 tons were taken to the landfill.

"That's a lot of rubbish," said Al Tufono, Honolulu Parks and Recreation Deputy Director.

The park has 25 campsites but the homeless took them over.  Now the city will take the next three weeks to repair the restrooms, cut the grass and make improvements.

So how do you keep the homeless from returning?

"That's always the interesting question. We are cleaning up the park and we will do our best to post our closure signs and work together with the police department," said Tufono.  "In the interim I'm sure the officers will be coming by a lot more often than they do but talking to police they'll continue to make their rounds as they've been doing."

Of the estimated 200 people who were living at the park, 70 were children.  Many went to transitional shelters but others moved about 50 feet away into the property next to the park referred to by some of the homeless as the bush.  It's still city land but it's not a designated park and hundreds of homeless have lived there along the coastline for years.

"They should leave these people alone because they stay set already. Of course they aren't paying rent, but they feel peaceful on this side," said Bill Sotelo, Waianae.

Bill Sotelo says his sister has lived out here for 15 years.  Her spot is quite elaborate with landscaping where she sells shell necklaces.

But other camps were flat out filthy.  We also met people just released from prison and others who have drug or alcohol problems.

"Plenty of people have drug problems on this side.  You're going to get a lot of drug problems because people have no more job so that's the only way they get money," said Sotelo.

There isn't a plan yet to deal with the people living in the bush but city leaders are talking about it.

For now they're focused on the actual parks and making them usable for taxpayers.

"The majority of people really like to see what we're doing here and they like to see the park is coming back for the use of everybody in the community," said Tufono.

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.