Court order calls for property owners to clear homeless camp

  • MICHAEL BRESTOVANSKY/Tribune-Herald file photo

    The county might be forced to remove this homeless camp on a lot between Ponahawai and Mamo streets in downtown Hilo if the property owners do not appeal a court order or remove it themselves.

A Hilo judge signed an order last week that would compel two Big Island property owners to clear a homeless camp from downtown Hilo, but they can still appeal the court’s decision.

The court order would require Big Island residents Elizabeth Jerilyn Rose and Michael Ravenswing to clear unpermitted structures from a property they own, located between Ponahawai and Mamo streets in Hilo. It was signed Oct. 1 by Hilo Circuit Judge Henry Nakamoto. The order was submitted following a hearing in mid-September.

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The order is the latest in a civil case that has slowly escalated throughout the year.

Rose and Ravenswing, through their businesses NSHE HI Foxglove LLC and NSHE HI Thistle LLC, jointly own the property. Since late last year, that lot has become an unauthorized encampment, with several unpermitted structures — including a concrete foundation, chain-link fences, tents and other makeshift dwellings — being built on the site.

Although the county repeatedly ordered Rose and Ravenswing to remove the structures, they have failed to do so, eventually forcing the case to go to court. The order signed last week authorizes the county to remove the structures if Rose and Ravenswing do not comply.

Hawaii County Corporation Counsel Joseph Kamelamela said there is still an opportunity for Rose and Ravenswing to appeal the case, meaning the county cannot remove the structures until the appeal deadline passes. Kamelamela said the owners have until the end of the month to appeal.

Should Rose and Ravenswing decline to appeal, the order authorizes county agents to remove the structures between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., and remove any people on the property as necessary.

Kamelamela said the property owners have not responded to the order, which is consistent with their responses — or lack thereof — to previous orders. However, Kamelamela confirmed the order was successfully served to the owners Oct. 4.

The order also keeps Rose and Ravenswing liable for all costs arising from the removal of the structures, as well as the $177,000 in fines they have accrued since January by continually failing to comply with county building codes.

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Rose previously defended her actions by claiming the camp sits on Hawaiian Kingdom land and therefore does not answer to the laws of the United States.

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

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