(BIVN) – The County of Hawaiʻi carried out another rules enforcement effort on Tuesday morning, this time at Honl’s Beach in Kona.
“Earlier today, the Hawaiʻi County Department of Parks and Recreation, in coordination with the Hawaiʻi Police Department, the Office of Housing and Community Development, and various other State agencies and nongovernment service providers, conducted a comprehensive park rules enforcement effort at Honl’s Beach in Kailua-Kona,” a County news release stated. “This operation, led by the directive of Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth, aimed to address safety concerns and guarantee compliance with Parks’ rules within the beach grounds, ensuring the safety and functionality of the park for all residents and visitors.”
The news release avoided the use of the term “sweep” in connection with the action, nor did it refer to those subject to the rules enforcement as homeless or houseless. However, the news release did note that “housing opportunities” were offered to those who were required to vacate the park.
“The Park has been the center of a number of safety complaints over the past month, with many beachgoers citing that they were harassed or attacked by illegal campers in the area,” the County said. “An increased police presence has been necessary as a result.”
The County says three individuals were impacted by the enforcement effort, “with two refusing assistance and the other accepting housing opportunities. All vacated the vicinity without incident.”
“It is unacceptable for our residents and visitors to feel unsafe in our Parks,” said Mayor Mitch Roth. “As leaders, we have the responsibility to ensure that our beautiful public spaces can be enjoyed by all without fear. We have committed to that and will continue to enforce rules whenever necessary to protect the safety and wellbeing of all our residents, not just a select few.”
The County added:
To ensure the proper handling of all personal property, the County arranged for a secure storage facility. Personal belongings from three individuals were carefully stored and inventoried, allowing individuals to easily retrieve their belongings within a 30-day period.
Similarly to prior Parks’ enforcement operations, outreach specialists from the Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD) had been actively engaging with individuals in the area prior to the enforcement effort to provide support and connect them with appropriate resources.
With the successful completion of the enforcement effort, all safety and rule violations within the Honl’s Beach area have been addressed. Mayor Roth’s focus is now on restoring the intended purpose of the park, creating a safe and enjoyable environment for all residents and visitors.
The County would like to remind the public that future enforcement efforts are planned to address various issues at parks around the island as part of ongoing initiatives to ensure the safety, cleanliness, and functionality of public spaces.
In an unrelated case, the First Circuit Court will be holding an evidentiary hearing today regarding civil rights violations in the use of houseless sweeps. The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i against the City and County of Honolulu.
In June, the ACLU also demanded the County of Hawaiʻi put a halt to future homeless sweeps planned on the Big Island, until adequate shelter or safe spaces are designated.