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StarBulletin.com

Are makeshift memorials legal?


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POSTED: Saturday, November 14, 2009

QUESTION: Someone is turning shoreline tide pools into a memorial park. Is this legal? There are memorial plaques cemented onto the rocks along with some American flags and flower vessels near one of the entrances to the Ka Iwi coast. The flags are visible as you are driving along Kalanianaole Highway shortly after the stoplight at the Kalanianaole and Kealahou Street intersection. I suppose it's a whole lot cheaper than going to someplace like Hawaiian Memorial Park.

ANSWER: That area is under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which has halted what it told Kokua Line last Monday were plans to remove the two memorials.

Department officials haven't viewed the placement of hundreds of such memorials along the Waianae Coast and at Pokai Bay as being “;illegal.”;

When asked whether that position also holds regarding memorials along the Ka Iwi coastline, spokeswoman Deborah Ward initially told us, “;We are evaluating the department's previous position.”;

But on Monday she said that because of a “;specific public complaint,”; the department planned to remove the memorials at Ka Iwi, holding the plaques for a month “;in case the families wish to reclaim them.”;

Ward told us the department was “;recently made aware of (the memorials) by a caller”; shortly before our inquiry last month.

Asked whether the department's action to remove the Ka Iwi memorials, while not previously removing the memorials along the Leeward Coast, could be perceived as a double standard, Ward said the department doesn't usually take action on such matters unless there is a threat to public health or safety or if a complaint is received.

Reasons for that include limited resources and personnel, she said.

In addition, the “;department seeks to be respectful whenever and for as long as is possible, by recognizing and accommodating the sentiments of grieving families in circumstances like these,”; Ward said. “;For those reasons, these matters are handled on a case-by-case basis.”;

Asked how DLNR planned to notify the families, “;Hopefully your column will help get the word out,”; Ward said. “;If these were put in without permission of the department, we do not necessarily have any contact information.”;

Yesterday, however, she told us she was retracting her statements and reiterating, “;We are evaluating the prior DLNR policy and are not taking action at this time to amend it.”;

We first wrote about coastline memorials in 1997 (see hsblinks.com/19g), when state officials were taking a benign attitude toward the markers.

City officials, however, took a harder position.

At that time there reportedly were about 100 such memorials along the Leeward Coast, 30 at Pokai Bay alone, dating back decades.

A spokeswoman for the city Department of Parks and Recreation told us back then that the memorials on city property had not been authorized or accepted by the City Council and that “;monuments and such should benefit the public and not just a small group.”;

We were told city officials had suggested planting a tree or donating a bench with a plaque as more appropriate remembrances.

However, a Department of Land and Natural Resources official said the plaques along the Leeward Coast were “;not obtrusive”; and that no one had really complained about them, so, “;with limited staffing and resources, this has always been considered a nonissue. Should it become an issue, we would have a lot of public input and comment before”; anything is done.

In 2002 the memorials in Waianae and Pokai Bay again were brought to Kokua Line's attention - hsblinks.com/19t - and the answer from DLNR was, “;As long as there is no public health and safety issue and no complaints from the public, we will respect the sentiment behind erecting those memorials.”;

QUESTION: Regarding the recent Star-Bulletin story about demand for food being up but donations to food banks and pantries being down: Can you tell us where we can donate food or who to call?

ANSWER: The story mentioned more than 200 nonprofit agencies that collect and donate food to needy families (hsblinks.com/1ap).

The easiest way to find an organization or group to donate to is to call the Aloha United Way hot line, 211.

AUW has a list of food pantries and their phone numbers. You also can get contact information for 124 locations statewide that provide food, including emergency food supplies, online at auw211.org.