State briefs for February 13

‘Safe zone’ turns to waste-ridden encampment

HONOLULU — City officials received complaints that homeless people from a large encampment are dumping human waste into Pokai Bay in Waianae, Oahu, among other issues, and one official warns the camp may be shut down unless changes are made.

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State and city lawmakers once looked at the Pu’uhonua O Waianae encampment as a potential model for what government-sanctioned homeless “safe zones” could look like throughout the islands. But the encampment has taken a much different route since it opened in 2016.

City and County of Honolulu Councilwoman Kymberly Pine said safe zones officials want to “have sanitary conditions, roofs over people’s heads, security and an environment that does not destroy” natural resources. She said residents are concerned about the environment.

“Either they actually put houses there, or bathrooms there and security there or they find another location with all of the assistance they need,” Pine said. “We are at risk of being forced to shut it down.”

State Department of Land and Natural Resources officials worry that occupants living in the oceanfront encampment are running up the harbor’s water bills while destroying cultural and natural resources on the land between Waianae High School and the Waianae Small Boat Harbor.

Ed Underwood, administrator for DLNR’s Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, cited a long list of problems at the boat harbor tied to the encampment occupants.

“It’s a never-ending battle,” Underwood said. “In my opinion, if you’re going to do safe zones, you’re going to need to provide social services, water, restroom facilities and all of that. There should be some sort of security involved.”

Residents grumble about delays in fixing sewage leak

HONOLULU — Ewa Beach residents said a sewage line break in their neighborhood created a health hazard because it wasn’t fixed promptly.

Resident John Mazzulla said he first noticed sewage overflowing onto a sidewalk Jan. 29, but the problem has yet to be fixed completely.

Mazzulla said the city told him it couldn’t fix the line because it’s on private property. But a city spokesman said officials decided to get involved anyway because of the emergency.

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City crews cleaned up some of the mess, but left it up to the association and state health department to fully handle the matter.

The Ocean Pointe Residential Community Association said the line will be fixed.