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StarBulletin.com

Waikiki curbside campers must go


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POSTED: Thursday, December 03, 2009

Curbside campers along Kalakaua Avenue will not be allowed to spend the night anymore in the city's latest effort to keep Kapiolani Park clear for recreational use.

The ocean side of Kapiolani Park will be closed from 2 to 5 a.m. nightly under new rules announced yesterday. The 200-acre park on the mauka side of the street is already closed from midnight to 5 a.m.

City attorneys verified that the strip between the sidewalk and roadway is part of Kapiolani Park and subject to rules set by the city Department of Parks and Recreation, Mayor Mufi Hannemann said yesterday.

“;It has become an increasing health and safety issue, getting in the way of what we like to see in Waikiki,”; said the mayor, who visited the area Tuesday night. “;There are damaged sprinklers. People have complained about the odors coming from that area.”;

Up to 40 tents were put up between the Honolulu Zoo and the Natatorium during the past month, with campers claiming that a legal loophole exempted the roadside from park rules.

Campers were notified yesterday to pack up their tents and possessions and leave the 4-foot-wide strip for city crews to do groundskeeping and maintenance work. Campers told the Star-Bulletin that in the past they would return after city crews mowed the grass and left.

The mayor said the city took time to establish the parks department jurisdiction. “;We got documentation from the Corporation Counsel; I'm confident now we can establish this is park land.”;

John Finley, chairman of the Waikiki Neighborhood Board, said the illegal camping affects everyone using the park and the beach.

“;It's a health issue for all park users,”; he said, noting that shrubbery and even open space are used as a toilet by campers.

;[Preview]    Campers shut out of Kapiolani Park for good
  ;[Preview]
 

Mayor Mufi Hannemann announced the city is closing the strip lining Kapiolani Park to dozens of homeless campers.

Watch ]

 

“;It is a panhandling issue our residents and visitors have to go through. I believe there is a bit of crime down there, rumors of drug dealing that I can't prove.

“;There are some really hard-luck people down there,”; Finley said. “;We wish they would take advantage of social services and get in programs. It's partly the recession, I know, with people who need assistance and don't know where to look.

“;There are also people dedicated to being homeless and camping on the beach and to heck with anyone else,”; he said. “;I believe they are the ones who damage restrooms, and tear up the sprinkler pipes so they don't get wet. They refuse to get any service because it means having to follow rules.”;

He said the issue of dealing with campers in the park has been discussed by the Waikiki and Diamond Head/Kapahulu/St. Louis Heights neighborhood boards for years.

The city Department of Customer Services is working with social service agencies in an effort to get the homeless campers off the street, said Ernie Martin, deputy director.

“;We know there are beds available at IHS,”; he said, referring to the Institute for Human Services.

Hannemann said the campers are a state government concern, too.

“;We can clean up and maintain the park and enforce the rules. But we don't have a social services department, a housing department, an education department ... to address the many needs the homeless have. It cannot be solely on the shoulders of the city.”;