County plots next course of action as lot owners fail to appeal

  • The homeless encampment is located between Ponahawai and Mamo streets in downtown Hilo. (Tribune-Herald file photo)

The owners of a downtown Hilo lot that has become a homeless camp have failed to appeal their case.

The lot, located between Ponahawai and Mamo streets in Hilo, was the subject of a court order signed at the beginning of October requiring the lot’s owners — Elizabeth Jerilyn Rose and Michael Ravenswing, both Big Island residents — to clear unpermitted structures from the property.

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Rose and Ravenswing had until the end of October to appeal the case. Hawaii County Corporation Counsel Joe Kamelamela said earlier this week that they have not done so.

The two owners have consistently failed to respond to requests from the county to remove unpermitted structures — including a concrete base, a chain-link fence and several improvised dwellings — from the lot throughout the last year, having incurred nearly $200,000 in fines for their defiance. Several attempts to deliver notices to the duo evidently failed, leading to delays in the enforcement process.

During the rare times when Rose did communicate with the county, she used confusing legal arguments to defend her position that were not backed up by legal records.

In one instance, she said that the property had been transferred to the “Hawaiian Rose Trust” in 2018, but no record of such a transfer could be found. In another, letters addressed to Rose were returned to the county unopened with “refused for cause, no such person” written on the envelope.

Although Rose and Ravenswing did not attend a Sept. 13 hearing about the case that led to the court order, they later wrote to the county that they were at the Kona courthouse at the appropriate time, but had not been told which courthouse the hearing would be in. Rose claimed that because she was never served notice of the hearing’s location, the results of the hearing are invalid.

A notice of the hearing dated Aug. 9 specifically lists the address of the Hilo courthouse as the site of the hearing.

With the window to appeal the case now closed, Kamelamela said county agencies, including the departments of Planning and Public Works, now need to determine the best course of action for removing the unpermitted structures.

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Kamelamela said that plan should be decided within the coming week.

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

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