State, city remove homeless camps at Diamond Head

Mindy Pennybacker, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser
·3 min read

Apr. 8—The state and city are coordinating this week in cleanups and removal of homeless encampments in their respective lands on the slopes of Diamond Head Crater, officials confirmed Wednesday.

Thirty long-term campsites on the sides of Diamond Head State Monument have been cleaned up since Monday, after campers were given two weeks' notice of the action, Department of Land and Natural Resources spokesman Dan Dennison said. The cleanup included removal of possessions, including tents and makeshift structures, as well as trash.

On the makai side of Diamond Head Road, the city's Kuilei Cliffs Beach Park, also known as Diamond Head Cliffs, will be closed today through 5 a.m. Saturday, said Nathan Serota, spokesman for the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation.

"The closure is necessary to assist with cleaning efforts and to address illegal encampments and trash along this rugged public area, " Serota said in an email, noting that the closure will not impede the public from accessing the ocean.

"The public may traverse through the beach park, but may not remain in the park, during this closure, " he said.

Serota said DPR is also discussing a request from community leaders to extend Diamond Head beach park closure hours, currently from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. nightly, to start earlier, at dusk, when campers begin slipping into the parks, according to Resolution 21-51, passed by the Honolulu City Council last month.

Meanwhile, the Honolulu Police Department has increased the frequency with which it patrols Diamond Head Beach Park, said Council Chairman Tommy Waters, who introduced the resolution.

Law enforcement support for the state's cleanups is being provided by officers from DLNR's Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, as well as by officers from HPD's District 7 Community Policing Team, while a private contractor is storing or disposing of items removed from the campsites.

Beyond cleanups and enforcement of "no camping " rules, outreach and housing are also being addressed in a program taking place at state parks throughout the islands, said Pua Aiu, DLNR homeless coordinator.

"Housing is a piece, outreach is a piece, and enforcement is a piece of the plan and if you don't have all three, it's not going to work, " Aiu said in a statement, adding that state and city partnerships were integral to the effort.

"Having HPD join us has been very helpful because they can easily make connections between what may be happening in Waikiki and what's happening on Diamond Head, " she said.

Other key partners include case workers from the Institute for Human Serv ­ices, the City T.E.A.M. Work Hawaii program, and social work students from the University of Hawaii Thompson School of Social Work and Public Health, who assist in outreach and notification to homeless individuals prior to the enforcement. This outreach is offered in alliance with shelter and housing programs, such as the city's Housing and Outreach Navigation for Unsheltered (HONU ) program, operated by HPD.

DLNR staff can call for a pickup and transport to HONU, which Aiu offered to homeless individuals during the cleanup.

Even if an individual declines HONU assistance, outreach is critical, so that if a person is encountered again "we don't have to start from scratch on that person, " Aiu said. "We know what their needs are, who their case manager is, and we can pick up where we left off."

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