Fines pile up for owners of downtown Hilo property

  • Tribune-Herald file photo The homeless encampment shown on Aug. 8, located between Ponahawai and Mamo streets in downtown Hilo.

The owners of a downtown Hilo property that has become a homeless encampment have accrued nearly $200,000 in fines after failing to remove illegal structures for the better part of a year.

According to court records filed in April, the owners of a lot located between Ponahawai and Mamo streets have been accumulating fines for failing to clear the lot at a rate of $1,200 per day since April 15.

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Given that the unpermitted structures on the lot remain standing, the owners have now potentially accrued over $162,000 in fines, including those accumulated before April 15.

The court documents allege that inspectors from the Department of Public Works first examined the lot in November 2018 and observed numerous building code violations, including unpermitted fencing and tent structures. Inspectors also observed individuals residing on the property in substandard structures.

After that initial observation, the county sent the property owners — a pair of companies called NSHE HI Foxglove LLC and NSHE HI Thistle LLC, both co-owned by Big Island residents Jerilyn Rose and Michael Ravenswing — a notice of their violations in January.

The owners began accruing daily fines later that month after failing to take any action regarding their property.

In March, the county sent the owners an order demanding their compliance, which Rose and Ravenswing evidently disregarded. Shortly thereafter, the daily fines increased to more than $1,000 per day.

Since then, the unpermitted development on the lot has only become more elaborate. What began as a collection of tents and tarps has become a miniature shantytown, with small shacks built from various debris and a lanai outside of the fenced-off area.

Court documents allege the owners have consistently blocked access to the property for inspectors, while the lot continues to display inadequate sanitation and is a nuisance to surrounding properties, including Agasa Furniture and Music Store, which abuts the homeless camp.

Rose and Ravenswing were found to be in default in late July, and on Aug. 9 the county filed a motion requesting a court order for an injunction against the owners that would require them to remove all unpermitted structures, prohibit them from constructing any more structures, and force them to pay their fines.

Although the county’s motion did not specifically request it, the statute it invokes allows for the county to seize the property should compliance not be gained.

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Although Rose and Ravenswing have consistently failed to address the county’s demands, Rose has previously explained her actions as legal under the laws of the Hawaiian Kingdom, which she intends to restore.

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

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