Friday, October 3, 2014

Unintended Consequences: Homeless Find Loophole

Anyone who lives on Oahu knows we have a major problem with homelessness. You see it in Waikiki, Downtown, Chinatown, Kakaako -- but the homeless have also been pitching tents in beach parks all over the island. Since it's gotten to the point where tourists and residents alike are being impacted, the City of Honolulu has been trying to find ways to force them into shelters and get them off the sidewalks and out of the parks.

However, the homeless found a loophole in recent laws passed by the City: because of the split jurisdiction along the shoreline, they are now sleeping on the beach below the high water mark which comes under State rule! Of course, the State Dept. of Land and Natural Resources doesn't have the manpower or resources to deal with that issue too, so the City is trying to get State permission to take responsibility for the beach at Fort DeRussy in Waikiki. Here's the link to that article in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser:

But that's just one beach. Moreover, it's not the only problem we're experiencing that is related to split jurisdiction. Recently the local news media has also been reporting about the growing number of commercial ocean sports activities routinely being conducted on Honolulu beaches -- everything from the usual surfing and paddle boarding lessons to yoga classes. So if someone from the City wants to hassle them about things like permits, all they need to do is move down below the high water mark because the State DLNR won't send anyone to stop them.

Time and again, I've stated in this blog that we need a joint State-Counties Coastal Commission to set rules for all shoreline activities and have the authority to impose fines or take action against violators. Yet the Honolulu City Council and State Legislature continue to stick their heads in the sand and twiddle their thumbs.

BTW, a follower of this blog -- Mark Dougherty -- sent me the photos below showing how the Sheraton Waikiki has been derelict in maintaining vegetation along a walkway fronting the resort. I told Mark that there was a State Law passed, which is supposed to make property owners responsible for keeping plants from encroaching on any beach area below the high water mark because it would impede lateral beach access. The thing is you have to get DLNR to enforce the rule, and to date, I'm not sure they've been putting much effort into it.

Mark says he'll look into it himself, but has already heard from people who say the Sheraton really isn't that interested in improving the walkway's accessibility because they don't want to encourage more foot traffic by non-guests through that area. Wouldn't surprise me in the least if that was true.

Stay tuned, more to follow when I have time to post an update!

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