(BIVN) – Hawaiʻi County Councilmember Sue Lee Loy has introduced a resolution urging Governor Josh Green to declare a state of emergency for the condemned and dilapidated former Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel on Banyan Drive.
From a news release shared by the office of Councilmember Lee Loy:
After months of collaboration and advocacy with the community, state legislators, and the Hawaiʻi State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Council Member Sue Lee Loy has introduced a resolution that urges the Governor to issue an emergency proclamation to provide relief for damages, losses, and suffering and to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the people affected by the hazardous conditions at the property known as Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel.
The property, located on state land leased by the DLNR, has been a source of trouble and danger for the surrounding Banyan Drive Peninsula since hotel services ceased in June 2017. Since then, it has experienced numerous fires, squatters, illegal activity, and security issues that have diverted precious resources from the Hawaiʻi Police Department and the Hawai’i Fire Department.
“This is a request by the community to get something done at Banyan Drive — Uncle Billy’s has reached a crescendo,” said Council Member Sue Lee Loy. “Drastic and swift action has to be taken.” She added that the Governor’s intervention could pave the way for the redevelopment of the peninsula, which is vital for the economic recovery and resilience of Hawaiʻi County.
The resolution comes at a time when the state has allocated funds for the DLNR to address the situation at Banyan Drive. “Representatives Mark Nakashima, Chris Todd, and Richard Onishi, along with Senator Lorraine Inouye, have been pressing on the DLNR for years and made funding available to answer the public’s growing concerns of safety and degrading conditions at Banyan Drive,” said Lee Loy.
A Hawaiʻi County Council Committee will hear the resolution on July 5, 2023.
The abandoned Uncle Billy’s was most recently in the news back in April 2023, when state and county law enforcement officers searched through the building at dawn. The action resulted in two arrest and ten citations for trespassing.