KAPAA — For more than a year, El Aina Danine lived at the bus stop fronting the Kapaa Neighborhood Center. She slept there. She ate there. She read there. She fed chickens there.
She said she had money. She had offers for different places to live. She said she has family on the Mainland.
But on Tuesday, the community fixture was gone.
It wasn’t just Danine that was missing from the Kapaa bus stop, either — the bench was also gone, following enforcement of the county Transportation Agency’s new rules regarding county bus stop use.
“On Tuesday, El Aina Danine was arrested for violating the Transportation Agency’s administrative rules regarding the use of the county bus stop. Danine was cited for not following the new rules,” said Kim Tamaoka, spokeswoman for the county.
She said the bench is being cleaned and refurbished and will be re-installed next week.
The rules Danine is accused of breaking include closure of bus stops from midnight to 4 a.m., and a ban on drug and alcohol consumption, as well as smoking cigarettes and electronic cigarettes at bus stops.
The rules also ban erecting any structure of fixture within or adjacent to a bus stop and occupying a bus stop in a manner that inhibits adequate public use.
Danine was arrested at about 4 a.m. Tuesday for overnight use of the bus stop and transported to Wilcox Medical Center for evaluation before detainment, which she refused, according to the county.
“She was then transported to police cellblock without incident, where she currently remains in lieu of $100 bail,” Tamaoka said.
James “Kimo” Rosen, Kapaa resident who visited her from time to time, says she’s an innocent soul who has been offered free housing many times by many people.
The Kauai Police Department and the Transportation Agency both tried to work with her in an attempt to find her a safe place to relocate, but she refused help — save for food and a kind word from passersby.
“She’s had a lot of outreach from the Christian and secular community, but she totally believes in the spiritual journey she’s on and that Jesus wants her to be there,” Rosen said.
Danine isn’t dangerous, he said, but she was causing health and public safety problems for people who frequented the bus stop because she took up the available space and never really left that spot.
Swollen legs and difficulty walking were reasons Danine rarely went anywhere, Rosen said, including to a restroom.
The 53-year-old woman came to Kauai from Fairfax County, Virginia, near Washington D.C., and previously told TGI she has a dream of starting a Christian church 144,000 members strong somewhere on the North Shore named “Holy Father, Holy Son and Holy Spirit Church.”
She arrived on Kauai and started living at Kealia Beach, where she says her possessions were gradually stolen until she was left with virtually nothing.
A quest for a safer place led her to the bus stop on Thanksgiving 2016, where she remained until Tuesday morning.
“I pray for everyone,” she told TGI in November, while she was still living at the bus stop. “Jesus Christ told me to don’t worry and to trust him and be still.”
At the beginning of the year, the Transportation Agency introduced updates to their bus stop rules.
During the discussion that led up to the February enactment of the new rules, Danine told The Garden Island that she would “inquire with the Holy Spirit, and maybe have a prayer” about the matter, but didn’t give any sign of moving from the bench.
Life at the bus stop wasn’t always peaceful for Danine. On Nov. 2, 2017 for example, she was arrested for lewdness after a tarp she was using to hide behind while cleaning herself blew away in the wind.
She was incarcerated for 48 hours and then released.
And all the while, many people questioned why she was allowed to remain living at the bus stop.
“It is a health issue for any person waiting at the Kapaa bus stop,” said letter writer Marga Goosen. “There is waste from numerous chickens as well as garbage, which the county then has to clean at the expense of the public.”
On social media, residents and visitors alike comment on the “woman in purple” or the “angel at the bus stop,” both advocating for her sweet personality and demanding the county do something to remove her.
“The lady in purple at the Kapaa bus needs to move out,” one post says. “At some stage, this is just unacceptable right?”
Another person posted: “Last night we passed, it was raining…someone waiting for the bus was out in the rain while El Aina took up the whole bench.”
The Transportation Agency waited a month after enacting the rules to remove Danine from the bus stop and offered to help find alternate housing until she was arrested.
Following her arraignment, she’ll either post the $100 bail or spend up to 10 days in jail paying off her debt to society for breaking the rules.