Lydgate Beach Park closes to houseless

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Napua McKeague of the Lydgate Shelter In Place site comes to speak with the sovereignty group, Monday at the Kamalani camping area.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    ‘This is supposed to be my day,” said Napua McKeague of the Lydgate Shelter In Place site, Monday. “I’m a veteran. What about the other veterans that are here?”

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Park rangers tape off an area containing declared dispose of items, Monday at the Lydgate Shelter In Place site.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Park rangers work with some of the residents, Monday at the Lydgate Shelter In Place site.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Torrie at the Lydgate Shelter In Place site.

WAILUA — “Maybe this is a blessing in disguise,” Torrie said, looking out at Lydgate Beach Park, her home for over a year.

Monday marked the last day of the county’s Shelter in Place program at this campsite that provided a place with access to running water, electricity and bathrooms for over a year during the coronavirus pandemic.

Napuanani “Pua” McKeague has acted as a resource to many at the encampment, keeping track of over 200 people who’ve utilized the park throughout its operation. Monday, as she walked the site, she took note of her people.

“Ninety-three-plus souls, children, kupuna, mentally and physically challenged with nowhere to go,” McKeague said. “What have we accomplished? We can’t even get an invitation to any of the tables to put in some mana‘o. Who would know better than us?”

Lydgate transformed into different zones, with areas for families, kupuna and those working, for example. McKeague said there was a request for a 90-day extension, but it was not granted.

“This is about basic human rights,” McKeague said. “This is us determining as a community, as Kaua‘i island community. We have the ability to set the pace for the state, for the nation, on how we’re treating our houseless.”

McKeague and Torrie teamed up to provide counseling sessions to residents of the park, helping those navigate resources or handle their emotions.

“We wanted to leave this place better than how we found it,” Torrie, who will be flying back to the Mainland after the closure, said. She noted that the group was more like a family community.

“We had an opportunity to talk to each other in a town-hall-style meeting and we talked about the importance of staying calm and to be more relaxed and keeping your vibrations high,” she said. “Every story I’ve heard about where someone’s going next is a better situation than what they’re in now. Some of this wouldn’t have happened without this push.”

The county administration initially designated five beach parks as Shelter in Place areas for the houseless community in March 2020. At these encampments, people could apply for a monthly permit to set up a small campsite with amenities provided by the county, like access to a bathroom, running water and social services. In February of this year, the county announced the disassembly of this program, used by over 200 individuals across the island.

Kaua‘i County Councilmember Felicia Cowden had visited the parks frequently.

“This was emergency sheltering for the COVID-19 window, and it has certainly been a relief for COVID suppression on the island at this time,” Cowden said. “But the problem is much larger. The larger community has grown weary of the impacts on the parks.”

Cowden said throughout much of her childhood she faced housing insecurity, so this feels very personal to her.

“It’s not the park’s role to solve this economic challenge to all of our nation, but this is a problem for all of the people,” Cowden said. “This is a wound on the public body, and we have to take care of it. It doesn’t go away.”

Kamuela Gomes, who lives at Salt Pond Beach Park, was at Lydgate Monday morning to offer support during the closing.

“The bottom line to all of this issue is that this is our county, our independent nation or kingdom, occupied by the United States,” Gomes said. “It boils down to (the county’s) procedure and their protocols, which are invalid and completely illegal.”

Gomes has gone to court against the county in a civil case in May 2020 using Martin v. Boise as precedent.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in 2018 found that a city ordinance in Boise, Idaho violated the Eighth Amendment of cruel and unusual punishment by citing houseless individuals criminally for sleeping outdoors on public property without alternative shelter.

In February of this year, the city of Boise reached a settlement, ending 12 years of litigation, agreeing that houseless individuals cannot be cited or arrested for sleeping outdoors when no other shelter is available.

A March 31 survey of Salt Pond Beach Park, the last Shelter-In-Place zone, showed that county facilities were operating at capacity, and the county could not accommodate additional permits.

“… (No) new permits will be issued for June to those not already holding permits for Salt Pond,” the county said in a May 30 social media notice.

Two months later, on May 28, just three days before Lydgate closed, the county provided a shuttle to Salt Pond from here, which went unused.

Rangers with the county’s Parks and Recreation Department were on-hand Monday, taping off areas that were deemed rubbish for removal.

Michael Daly, who lives at Salt Pond, has been documenting the closure of Lydgate.

“It’s a different environment,” Daly said. “The trouble with this park is that it doesn’t have grass lawn, so whenever you go to the toilet, it’s a real hassle.”

Daly said this park could be a model for a sustainable village, but it needs some work.

“Practical things could make this park one of the best in the world, but it needs a design for the people,” Daly said.

  1. Major Lee Hung June 1, 2021 12:33 am Reply

    The actual number of those who cannot help their situation is a small percentage.

    1. Theresa ii June 1, 2021 10:18 pm Reply

      I concur. I was living at lydgate for 5 1/2 months. MOST of the homeless ARE ABLE to change their situation but CHOOSE not to. The majority of the homeless at lydgate are currently using crystal meth addicts. Lik

      e I said, I know bcuz i lived there from June to November of last year. I was barely able (disabled) to change my situation but Akua saw me through it and I secured housing in December of last year..
      Aloha, Theresa Iida

  2. Mark June 1, 2021 4:53 am Reply

    Just a good thing liberals are so good at running government. Otherwise Kauai might have a housing shortage with families living in tents on the beach. Unemployment would be through the roof. Roads would be clogged business would be shuttered and God only knows what the drug abuse situation would be like. Without liberal guidance and the hatred and blindness for any common sense solutions liberals employ, Kauai would really suck. We deserve the Government we allow.

    1. Unco Aurai June 1, 2021 9:00 pm Reply

      I see what you did there ~
      Loss of Jobs
      But wear a mask and get the shot ,.,
      Just be sure to eat ‘organic’ -LOL
      says Libs ..

      Genius mentality

    2. Richard Shane June 2, 2021 11:18 am Reply

      Dumb blaming it on any political affiliation…

      Simply put ‘some people’ are at a disadvantage

      The park system is just another attempt to solve a problem with out the consensus of the whole, a partial attempt ….. ( Ignorant l) Government agencies vying for affirmation of a solution lead by one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing lol…hay at least they put a remote control toy on planet Mars to look at a desolate planet while we as humans survive in stupidity led by others… good luck everyone

  3. nobody June 1, 2021 5:09 am Reply

    Torrie was flying back to the mainland? I guess she was there by choice? Not exactly a glamping Hawaiian vacation, but beachfront is nice.

    Separating the ones that will take help and try to move forward with their lives from the mentally ill and drug addicts is the job. Then there are those that are just lazy, work the welfare system and like the beach.

    I’d like to hear the mayor’s larger plan for the true houseless. I hope he has one?

  4. Sheeples June 1, 2021 6:51 am Reply

    Saw them all arriving to burns field on Saturday and Sunday. By Monday morning the sw wind was blowing an unmistakable odor of human excrement across the whole area. Multiple car camps have sprouted up spontaneously. At the same time, skydiving and helicopter tours take off all morning. What a view to land to, at least with a trade wind the cholera smells will be blowing out to sea. The good thing about this area is that it is under the jurisdiction of the airport police who only visit from Oahu once a month.

    House these poor people in something resembling at least a sanitary environment with running water and bathroom facilities. This inept money grubbing local and state government is pretty much shameless.

  5. Kimo Edwards June 1, 2021 8:15 am Reply

    Please TGI, just give us balanced reporting. One sided inaccurate quotes passed off as reality is shameful. “Left it better than we found it ?” Seriously? How much have we spent on the vandalism, assaults, and arson that the county enabled there over this last year by not enforcing any of its own 21 rules? How much will it cost us to paste it back together? Could that money, and the time and effort of our police and parks department been better spent, and had a more beneficial impact on our house less population than allowing the once crown jewel of our Kauai parks system to devolve into this embarrassing mess?

  6. Paulo June 1, 2021 8:46 am Reply

    Not only does this sadden me but it makes wonder why we can’t at least set up a new campground with running water and bathrooms where the houseless can live. We sometimes build low income housing at a high price but how much would it cost to set up a few campgrounds? It would need to have someone in charge and regulated maintenance performed by the occupants but as long as it’s run right why can’t we do this?

    Didn’t Oahu have a self regulated houseless camp with groomed dirt roads and self made structures with plenty of people cooperating till the county evicted them and destroyed the camp? Why are we not giving these people a minimum of a campground somewhere.

  7. MisterM June 1, 2021 3:11 pm Reply

    Let’s give these druggie M and vagrants a one-way ticket to an international destination of their choice.

    1. Nathan June 2, 2021 9:10 pm Reply

      Dear Mr M you commented on giving us a one way ticket to and international destinations? Sounds strange being that California and the rest of the mainland did the same process to their homeless people but sent them to Hawaii they paid for their plane fare when they departed they were able to walk in to the welfare office and apply for assistance with no rejections and here the local people that were struggling were denied you speak that we are all druggies and vagrants look in the mirror before you judge at one time in your younger life you weren’t any different from them today and may I add that these drugs were manufactured from the mainland and Asia in shipped to Hawaii like the plague that wiped out the Hawaiian population remember this COVID started in Asia and spread here like opium in the days of old check your facts before you judge and criticize the locals here just to prove and example 2 words ……..TAYLOR CAMP

  8. Love June 1, 2021 6:49 pm Reply

    The world needs a place where we can have a model for the way of truth. We need to help each other by understanding how to create a more sustainable living. Our future is about uniting to understand that we do not want to fall prey to the nefariousness. Every person must radiate aloha. The truth is we cannot but offer aloha to solve the crisis that is the taker-fear of the current. Everyone deserves housing—remember the days of the past? Let us continue to sow the seed of love that will translate to a communal-level effort to ensure sovereignty. The Kingdom is a function of aloha. Do you have it?

  9. RGLadder37 June 1, 2021 8:27 pm Reply

    Two choices. One kick those bums out and clean up Kaua’i to make it a better place for everyone. Two, become like church group and help out. Show Jesus compassion and give them something to wear and clothes to put on and food to eat. Make them more comfortable in life. Become a mother Teresa. But the second option will cost the community money and each member of society must pay for this. What will it be? Church group? Or just kick those losers out. They deserve hell.

  10. RGLadder37 June 1, 2021 8:36 pm Reply

    Personally, Kaua’i is for Jesus compassion. I this was in Los Angeles, just kick those losers out and put them some where else. They don’t deserve to be in our group. The richer boys in town. Where do you want to be? This is the more appropriate question.

    From a member of the community. Computers???????????????

  11. Kawika Anahola June 2, 2021 4:48 am Reply

    You’ve had a year to plan for a viable life style. You’ve been offered food, clothing, jobs, housing, medical services. “Poor me, give me more”, isn’t going to work well as a career choice. Embrace independence and freedom! Become self sufficient & progress into a life free of drugs, alcohol, & sloth. Yes, it takes strength & direction. Take the baby steps it takes to get there. Give back or parks. They were once open, beautiful and enjoyed by all. They were closed off and turned into fetid dumps, vandalized. Move on into a better life!

    1. Nathan June 2, 2021 9:37 pm Reply

      Kawika really being from Anahola you criticize us? Anahola is no different from here today it’s meth yesterday it was cocaine from the 80s and 90s it was flooded with it how do I know cause how many families were evicted from Hawaiian homestead ? Because of drug raids bet you don’t remember I do moved here in 1978 and lived in Anahola then moved west side and then built my home in Anahola my family still lives there in my home before you try to analyze our situation try thinking that just maybe you family member of a friend of yours might just be here because they lost their job or couldn’t pay the rent or had and okole pula for a landlord and was forced to be here their are people that do go to work here some are handicapped and most are trying to find employment when it’s available for myself I’m handicapped and also at retirement age and Social security is not enough to find a place to rent so show compassion we like to say as God tells try to help to be a solution to help eliminate the the problem ……. Mahalo

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