Officers from three law enforcement agencies conducted a dawn sweep of all 146 rooms at the former Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel on Thursday morning, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
While the 15 officers did not find anyone on the property, there was evidence in many of the rooms that they were recently occupied.
The hotel was condemned by Hawaii County authorities for its unsafe condition. It is under the jurisdiction of the DLNR Land Division, which is in the process of soliciting interest from developers to renovate the salvageable buildings on the property and demolish those that are beyond repair.
People who were living in the hotel’s rooms were notified that law enforcement would be coming in to clear it. A private security company is being contracted to provide 24-hour security, and DLNR is investigating the possibility of putting permanent barriers up until a new lease for the property is issued.
Officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, Hawaii Police Department and the state Department of Public Safety Sheriffs Division teamed up to search each room.
In many, they found trash, clothing and bedding scattered everywhere, with graffiti scrawled on doors and on interior and exterior walls. The interior of the hotel is considered a public health hazard and people are cautioned to stay out.
Gordon Heit, DLNR’s land agent for Hawaii County, said he encountered homeless individuals living on the property previously and had objects thrown at him. He was on the property Thursday to provide support for the law enforcement operation, as were homeless service providers, in case anyone was found still living in the hotel.