Illegal camping along city streams
The city could start cracking down on sleeping along Oahu streams. After an increase in homeless along our waterways, a bill to block this type of illegal camping advances at the Honolulu city Council.
The city could start cracking down on sleeping along Oahu streams.
After an increase in homeless along our waterways, a bill to block this type of illegal camping advances at the Honolulu city Council.
At one end of Liliuokalani Gardens, Nuuanu stream creates a picture perfect waterfall.
While at the other end, there is a growing eye sore. Tents and belongings line the stream banks from a homeless camp.
Nuuanu isn't the only place this is happening.
"There are many people living along the banks of the streams which surprised me, and under bridges," said Honolulu City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi.
While homeless residents have been swept from city streets, they have found a places where police don't enforce the city camping ban.
Liliuokalani Gardens and Nuuanu Stream are on city property, but the land in the middle of it all, directly under the H-1 Freeway bridge, is not.
"A highway or bridge crossing any city stream, if the bridge is owned by the state, that land below it is owned by the state DOT," said Eduardo Manglallan, the Deputy Director for the city's Department of Facilities Maintenance.
While homeless residents living along streams may not be swept by police, they face another danger: being swept away by floodwaters.
"People are sleeping on the banks of the stream, and there are many flash floods, often times at night. When they call out for help, neighbors have to go down and help them, so it endangers many people," said Kobayashi.
Those who live along Nuuanu Stream said they are well aware of the dangers of flooding. They tell Island News when heavy rains hit, a storm drain tunnel in the middle of their camp will fill with a wall of water. Floods will even periodically sweep away their belongings, but they still want to live along the stream.
Not only are homeless residents camping along streams, some are also packing belongings on boats and even living aboard makeshift rafts.
"If you go to Kalihi stream and Moanaloa Stream they are living in boats out there," said Manglallan.
Enforcement on the water would fall under yet another state department, and add to the challenge of clearing homeless campers. But a City Council bill could change that.
A proposed measure would make it illegal to camp along streams. It would also prohibit the use any type of watercraft as a temporary or permanent dwelling or place to sleep.
If passed the measure will clear out camps from the shores, but both illegal campers and lawmakers agree it will not reduce Oahu's homeless population.
"First, they closed the park at 10 p.m. so you can't go to the park. Then they have the sidewalk bill that passed. Now it is going to be a river one. All they are doing is moving people around, they are not solving the problem," said homeless resident John Johnson.
"The reason they are in the streams is they were pushed out of other areas. So if they are now moved from the streams, they are going to go somewhere else. We have to solve the problem," added Kobayashi.
The measure passed a committee hearing Wednesday, and now members of the public will get a chance to voice their opinion on the proposed bill.