Despite high-profile sweep, parts of Nimitz Viaduct still overrun with squatters

Despite high-profile sweep, parts of Nimitz Viaduct still overrun with squatters
Updated: Nov. 9, 2017 at 5:42 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As crews hired by the state work to clear massive piles of garbage from one side of the Nimitz viaduct, many of the squatters who created that mess are making themselves at home on the opposite side.

Councilman Joey Manahan represents the district, and said he was surprised to find out the portion of the viaduct that runs parallel to the Mapunapuna bike path won't be included in the current sweep.

"I would think that if the department was going to sweep the area they would sweep the entire area," said Manahan.

Over the past couple weeks the number of people living there has exploded. The camp is now spilling out from under the bridge onto the bike path.

"It's completely covered by tents and dwellings. It's a dangerous area," said Manahan.

A year ago, the Department of Transportation spent $318,000 to clean up the area and build a chain link fence in an effort to keep illegal campers from trespassing.

"At this point the fence is no longer a deterrent. In fact it's part of the encampments," said Manahan.

The state DOT declined an on-camera interview for this story, but told Hawaii News Now via email it hopes to expand enforcement to include additional HDOT property next year.

"No business owner would want that in their backyard," said Kaleo Alau.

Meanwhile, the owner of the nearby U-Haul continues to have run-ins with his neighbors.

Since the start of the year thieves have stolen 42 batteries out of his trucks. He also has to replace 18 gas tanks after crooks drilled holes in them to steal gas.

Alau says it's time for the government to come up with a solution that works.

"Not just for the city and county. Not just for the taxpayers but also for the people who are under there," said Alau.

Manahan says right now the situation is so volatile he's warning people who may walk or bike on the path to stay away.

"I would stay away from the encampments. I saw some dogs and other types of activity that would be questionable," said Manahan.

He says if the state fails to take action soon -- he'll work to negotiate a partnership so the city can come in sweep the bike path.

Mobile users: Click here for photos of the encampment that was dismantled.

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