Park cleanups should sweep up criminals, too
It was nice to read that the city is trying to balance parks access and the homeless issue. It was even nicer when they started cleaning up some parks and giving them back to tax-paying residents. It was so nice to walk through Thomas Square and not be intimidated, surrounded by drug users and most important -- feel safe with your family.
Let's use Thomas Square as an example. The park was infested with tents, body waste, garbage and personal belongings for months. It was getting to the point where no honest, tax-paying law-abiding citizen would go to a park during the day and use it as it was intended. You were crazy if you tried to walk across it at night (especially after the recent stabbing).
The park was finally cleaned up, tents removed and I started to bring my children back to the park. Well, that lasted about two weeks and now it seems the criminal drug users (disguised as homeless) and their camp sites are now again calling Thomas Square Park "home." At dusk the tents go up, at dawn they take them down and start partying, pack up their piles of stuff and stake out their claim under the shady trees. That means there is no shade for park users and, God forbid you go near their campsite
Last week I called the police because I was fearful for my children playing in the park when these crack-using illegal campers were doing it in front of me and my children. The smoke from their illegal drug use and camp was drifting right at my family. I have called HPD several times for the same reason and they send an officer to sit in his marked car. They sure are going to stop illegal activity using this method -- NOT! I refuse to bring my children back to the park until these people are gone.
I know that it is not against the law to be homeless. However, it is against the law to camp, litter, defecate and urinate in public, intimidate park users and smoke crack. This has nothing to do with a family down on their luck, losing a job and not being able to afford rent. It has everything to do with criminals, bums, drug users and other undesirables who have no intention of working, finding a proper legal place to stay or having a positive effect on their community and society as a whole.
Why can't the city turn on the sprinkler system for five minutes every hour after dark to make it uncomfortable for the illegal campers? Why can't HPD send an undercover person to watch and bust them? Why can't HPD tell these people to move out of the parks at night? Most of these illegal campers are so lazy they stay close to where they camp. Maybe, if the city made it inconvenient to stay in the park and the state made it more convenient to access social services these people would wise up and seek the help they need to be honest tax-paying citizens, a positive influence on society and enjoy the parks the way they were intended?
K. Brenneman lives in Honolulu.