When residents ask for it, the city closes another park
The closing of Mokuleia Beach Park for 12 hours a day has forced homeless people to move away.
The latest phase in the city's intersecting programs to clean up beach parks and remove people who have set up house on public land is regarded as an effort by government to respond to the wishes of the surrounding communities.
In closing Mokuleia Beach Park this week, the city was doing what the North Shore Neighborhood Board and the parks board had requested. The groups cited the oft-stated conventional concerns about health and safety to support their desires, as did residents on the Leeward Coast and elsewhere on Oahu where parks have been cleansed.
Having demolished a rundown toilet and washroom facility earlier this year, again for health and safety reasons, the city had a rationale for ousting the people living in tents and under tarps.
From now on, Mokuleia will be closed from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily, a period about five hours longer than most park closings, which usually last from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. City officials say the park is "day-time intensive," meaning it isn't used much after sunset, the hours are what the community wants and they are simply being accommodating.
The presence of homeless people has long been a troublesome situation for Mokuleia residents. Both the city and state have attempted to clear not only the park but the area makai of the road. Last summer, the city towed away vehicles in the parking lot to discourage people from living in them, citing a rule against parking there after 7 p.m.
At the time, the neighborhood board chairman complained that the homeless had taken over and that "the public also has the right to use the park," unintentionally dividing the public into those who can afford to buy or rent four walls and a roof and those who can't.
This is not to say that people who end up living on the beach aren't to be held responsible for their difficulties, but not all of them are feckless. Many have jobs that don't pay enough to come up with rents in a city where affordable housing units are rare. Others have fallen on hard times and have yet to recover.
So the problem of homelessness remains largely unresolved. Though the state, and the city to some extent, attempt to find housing, help the unemployed get training and jobs and provide shelters, many of the less fortunate members of the public are forced to migrate from a park in Waianae to another in Waimanalo and yet another on the North Shore. It's a sad game of homeless "whack-a-mole."
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