Homeless allowed to remain at 'Tracks'
A city cleaning crew lets most of the 60 homeless living there remain at Tracks Beach
The city allowed most of the 60 homeless people living along the coastline at Tracks Beach to stay yesterday as workers cleared bushes and trees.
Police Sgt. Edgar Namoca said the homeless were not being told to leave yesterday. "We understand those people are here because they have no place else to go," he said.
More than a dozen small and large tents remained along the Nanakuli side of the beach. Authorities had informed people of the cleanup last week.
Some surfers and fishermen said the beach looked cleaner after workers started to clear haole koa bushes and trees yesterday.
"It starting to look good," said Melvin Kauhane, of Nanakuli, who regularly surfs at Tracks. "Pride on our side. That's what it's all about."
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At Tracks Beach Park across from the Kahe Power Plant near Nanakuli, cut brush lay on the ground yesterday, removed during a cleanup of the area between the restroom and the highway.
Yesterday, workers filled up plastic bags of rubbish and mulched about 1 1/2 truckloads of brush as part of Mayor Mufi Hannemann's cleanup of beaches along the Waianae Coast, where many homeless people have set up campsites.
Throughout the week, workers from the task force of Oahu Community Correctional Center will continue clearing brush at Tracks Beach, which is about 14 acres. They hope to clear brush from the Kahe Power Plant to Cove Beach Park by the end of the week, said Leeward District Park Manager Dexter Liu.
A handful of police officers from the Crime Reduction Unit of District 8 assisted park officials to ensure the clearing went smoothly. There were no problems, Namoca said.
At about 11 a.m. yesterday, a vehicle filled with personal items was being towed away. About four other abandoned vehicles were slated to be removed from the beach.
Les Chang, director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, said the intent of the cleanup was to open up the beach, but acknowledged some homeless people were displaced.
Liu said, "If they are in affected areas, we are asking them to voluntarily move."
"If there's a place for us to go, we would go," said Cheryl Stanley, 43, who has been living at Tracks Beach with her husband, Rick, and 4-year-old daughter, Haylee.
Many transients, who would normally stay at the beach for a couple of days, left yesterday due to the cleanup, Stanley said.
Stanley, who has been living at Tracks Beach on and off for the past nine years, said she is slated to move into transitional housing at Kalaeloa on Oct. 1 through the help of an outreach worker.
Brush fire prevention and beautification were some of the reasons for the clearing. "It's needed," Liu said. "We want to make it usable to the community and more welcomed."
"It's such a nice beach. People can't see it with the brush," he added. "To me we have the most beautiful beaches on this coastline, although they're not recognized for it."
Tracks Beach is a popular spot for surfers who pack the site on the weekends along with fishermen.
Some remain annoyed by the increased presence of homeless people, complaining that they take up a majority of the beach space.
"The more homeless you have on the beach, it chases all the tourists away," said Jason Gouveia, 42, a nursery supervisor with the Department of Parks and Recreation assisting in the cleanup yesterday and fisherman who has been frequenting the Leeward Coast since he was 13.
"But where are they going to put everybody? That's the problem," Gouveia said.
"You have these people who are in an unfortunate situation who don't have a place to stay and those who want to go to the park. It's difficult to balance the two with Hawaii's housing market," Liu said. "Unfortunately, they (homeless) don't have a place to stay. That's where the governor and the mayor are working together to find temporary housing for them."