County steps up action against Hilo encampment’s landowner

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

    A fenced-off and tarped area behind Agasa Furniture and Music Store between Ponahawai and Mamo streets in Hilo has become a homeless encampment.

The owners of a downtown Hilo property on which a homeless commune has been established owe the county nearly $6,000 in fines.

A lot located between Ponahawai and Mamo streets behind Agasa Furniture and Music Store has become a fenced-off community of tents and other temporary structures, in defiance of multiple orders by county agencies to clear the lot.

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The owners of the lot are NSHE HI Foxglove LLC and NSHE HI Thistle LLC, which are both owned by Big Island residents Jerilyn Rose and Michael Ravenswing.

According to documents from the Hawaii County Planning Department, the property is located within a Special Management Area, and no structures — including tents— are permitted to be erected without an SMA use permit.

An inspection as early as November of last year by the Planning Department and Department of Public works found a 6-foot-tall perimeter chain-link fence, concrete slab foundations, assorted tents, a portable toilet and people residing on the lot.

The Planning Department contacted Rose and Ravenswing several times regarding the unpermitted structures, but the owners failed to respond or take any corrective action.

Rose and Ravenswing’s inaction regarding the unauthorized structures on their land accrued $5,800 in fines by late March.

Andrew Son, deputy corporation counsel, said enforcement actions by the Planning and Public Works departments were filed, but have not yet been served to the owners. Once they are served, he said, the “clock will start ticking” for Rose and Ravenswing to meet demands or face further penalties.

The presence of the camp has led to a poor environment for surrounding businesses. Keith De La Cruz, owner of Hilo Farmers Market, said he has received numerous complaints regarding the camp and has had to hire additional evening security for the market.

“They leave rubbish around, and they’re dumping it everywhere,” De La Cruz said.

Rose declined to answer questions regarding her property. However, in April she wrote a letter to the editor of the Hawaii Tribune-Herald explaining, to some extent, her motives:

“I own private property which is in the lawful Hawaiian Kingdom as the takeover of this land by corporate power has been recognized as unlawful. I stand on the Hawaiian Kingdom, which exists under God’s law. The Hawaiian Rose Trust exists to restore the executive power to the House of the Queen. Where there is private property, there is no homeless person and therefore no ‘homeless camp,’” she wrote.

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Rose also explained that a sign affixed to the fence of the camp would also prove illuminating. That sign includes a poem seemingly condemning modern society.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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