JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
A man named Paul, originally from New York, has been living at Keaau Beach Park for two months and says there aren't too many problems with safety.
Homeless numbers rise at Keaau Beach
About six months ago, Clarence Husemann gave up a $900 rental unit and built his own version of paradise at Keaau Beach Park, north of Makaha.
His abode consists of a small straw hut with solar-powered garden lights, surrounded by gray landscaping rocks and a gorgeous ocean view.
Standing before a beach sunset yesterday, Husemann, 36, said beachgoers should not be scared by the homeless people on the beach.
"I invite everybody," he said. "It's not my beach; it's everybody's beach.
"It's like one big family. Everybody takes care of each other."
Some Waianae residents disagree, saying that more homeless people are moving to the distant rural beach, bringing crime and drugs, as the city cleans up nearby Waianae Coast beaches that are closer to town.
The growing homeless camps are creating a dangerous and unhealthy environment for residents and tourists, they said.
According to the nonprofit Waianae Community Outreach, about 215 people live at Keaau Beach Park, some hidden in brush along a long stretch of freeway, said Jo Jordan, chairwoman of the Waianae Neighborhood Board.
Waikomo, the northern end of the park where some homeless live, does not have running water, toilets or trash pickup, she said. That area is about half a mile from city public facilities on the southern end, where there were dozens of tents yesterday.
Some park residents said they have noticed the population has swelled to the largest in about six years.
Waianae Community Outreach, which helps the homeless, recently conducted a count of people living at Keaau beach. They found 20 couples, 22 families and 83 individuals live in the city park, Jordan said.
"The community has been screaming," Jordan said. "The neighborhood board has been asking repeatedly (that) they (the city) need to do something out there because it's an accident waiting to happen. It's a dangerous area."
She described the place as a junkyard on the beach with trash, shacks and garbage lining the highway. Several homeless camps are hidden in brush and are not clearly visible from the highway.
"We've been very vocal about Keaau and Waikomo because it is dangerous out there," she said. "It is not suggested for going out there."
The city has scheduled nightly closures at several parks on the Leeward Coast, forcing the homeless into homeless shelters or sometimes into other beach parks, such as Keaau, where they are left alone.
Jordan said the people staying at Keaau are the more "hard-core" homeless who have moved from several other beach parks and do not want to go to the shelters.
Some have drug addictions or mental illnesses, making a "bad cocktail," Jordan said.
Jordan, who has lived in Waianae for 36 years, said she would walk alone anywhere else in Waianae, but not at Keaau Beach Park. "It's that dangerous," she said.
Meanwhile, the city plans to close several nearby Leeward beaches in response to residents' concerns about safety.
The city will close Tracks, Nanakuli, Lualualei No. 2 and Pokai Bay parks nightly from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., starting Aug. 11.
At Ulehawa No. 2, known as "7-Elevens," where about a dozen tents are set up, the city will close the beach for extensive cleaning and maintenance from Sept. 28 to Oct. 3. The park then will close nightly from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Lualualei No. 1, known as "Sewers," is scheduled for cleaning and maintenance Oct. 12-17, then will close nightly.
About 80 people live at Sewers, including 21 couples, eight families and 24 individuals, Jordan said.