Activists, homeless at Waimanalo camp criticize city's homeless sweep

Waimanalo Beach Homeless Sweep

WAIMANALO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Just days after the city announced a months-long shutdown of the Waimanalo Beach campsite for renovations, it quietly conducted a homeless sweep at the scenic beach.

Those moves incensed community activists and some of the Native Hawaiian families that have lived at the campsite for years.

"I don't know if it was just for construction purposes. From the looks of things, it was just a way of pushing the houseless on the side," said Waimanalo resident Kukana Kama-Toth.

Added Lavaina Aina, who has lived on the beach for nearly two decades: "I was very angry, very angry. Where are the families going with kids? We have families here with kids," she said. "Why do you want to beautify the park for? For the tourists? I know it ain't for us."

The city said it plans to turn 19 existing campsites into 10 larger campsites. It also will add new landscaping and bench tables. It said it gave homeless campers ample notice.

"Outreach workers ... visited the site last week Monday and they plan to go again tomorrow and Wednesday to offer services," said city spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke.

According to the city, none of the homeless campers contacted by outreach workers agreed to move into nearby shelters.

About 80 people live on the camp grounds, including 10 young children. When the city forced them to move out the park, many of them set up their tents next to roadside.

"That is very unsafe. The way they did it. There was no aloha in that. It was cowardly," said Kama-Toth.

Aina said that many of the people who live at the campsite have proper camping permits. She added that it's the campers -- not the city -- who are taking care of the park.

"We clean up. They didn't come in here one year ... to mow the yard. We was doing 'em. We got our own lawnmowers," she said. "The toilet is clogged, I gotta go and do 'em."

But the city said overnight camping is not allowed on Tuesday and Wednesday, when the city plans to shut down the campsite for renovation.

When that time comes, homeless campers say they plan to hold their ground and stay in the park.

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