Waimanalo community divided over beach cleanup

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A move by the City to clear the hedges around a camping site has the Waimanalo community divided.

Some say it’s punishing the homeless while others say it’s necessary to keep the area safe.

The City says it is routine maintenance, but it’s also received complaints about illegal activity happening at the site.

Hedges have been cut down to less than a foot high at Waimanalo Beach Park, giving a clear view of the homeless campers from Kalanianaole Highway.

“It’s like an eyesore to us neighbors and for the people across the street too because that’s their privacy, so I know how they’re feeling,” Waimanalo resident Bonnie Garcia said.

Garcia, who lives across the street, feels it wasn’t necessary to cut the hedge down so low. She says the homeless people who camp out there haven’t caused any problems.

“The City just wanted to see how these people are living and that ain’t right,” Garcia said.

The City says it was necessary because the Hao bushes grow fast. This way, maintenance crews won’t have to keep chopping them down.

A City spokesman says residents have complained of drug use and defecating in public. There’s also a recent incident where a camper with a permit wasn’t able to camp at his spot because illegal campers had taken it. So, the City had to give the camper his money back.

Some residents say it’s important that the City maintain the area.

“I think it’s alright so long as they had a plan to do that to help maintain the park and keep it pristine,” Waimanalo resident Andy Jamila said.

There’s also a big canoe regatta at Waimanalo Beach Park this weekend. Some say it would be good to clean up the area for the all the people who will be there.

“It’s a lot of people that’s gonna be coming down to Waimanalo for this event and I guess the parks people want to maintain it for this weekend,” Jamila said.

At this point, the City says there are no plans of evicting the homeless campers in the area.

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