DLNR sweeps Wailua encampment

WAILUA — A homeless encampment on state conservation lands that contained dozens of people was dismantled on Monday, according to the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

More than a month ago, DLNR Land Division posted signage warning those on the Koki Road parcel to vacate the property, which is adjacent to the former Coco Palms Resort and nearby a neighborhood, the department said.

More than a dozen officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) and state Sheriffs oversaw the operation.

Alison Neustein, Kaua‘i district land agent, said those involved in Monday’s operation has empathy for people who find themselves houseless. “However, state conservation lands are clearly not the place for these large encampments,” Neustein said. “For example, the Koki Road site is in a flood zone, so it has potential human safety issues.”

During the sweep, campers were allowed to take their belongings and identify items that will be stored for 30 days before disposal, if unclaimed.

Over the past year, DLNR has received several complaints about the encampment. Neighbors, on a hill overlooking the encampment had complained about noise and smoke from campfires.

There are no sanitary facilities on the land, though the campers had brought in portable toilets and put up a shower house, Neustein noted. She added one resident had to shut off her water service after getting extraordinarily high bills and suspected one of the campers was stealing her water.

As contract work crews loaded up trucks with rubbish and materials the campers didn’t want to keep, several of the workers taped eviction notices and additional no-trespassing warnings to the guava trees in the camp. Clean-up of the parcel is expected to take all week.

Other than a few verbal disputes between campers, the eviction was peaceful, DLNR reported. One person who’d announced his intention to enter the closed area was cited by DOCARE officers and then left the area.

“We all understand how difficult and expensive it is to find housing on Kaua‘i, though some of these folks have refused offers of shelter or transitional housing and will likely show up elsewhere. We have to do our jobs and uphold the laws and rules which preclude these encampments on public lands,” Neustein said.

  1. emry peters November 2, 2021 8:55 am Reply

    Thank you DOCARE.

  2. Hirondelle November 2, 2021 9:11 am Reply

    By the time the houseless have brought in portable toilets and put up a shower house, the encampment has been ignored for a long time. These encampments–and the larger issue of homelessness–should be addressed by the Council, with assistance from the State of Hawaii, which gets so much money from Kauai. Perhaps the recent increase in the tax on transient rentals should be earmarked for addressing that ongoing issue. Random raids and ad hoc non-solutions are not a reasonable response in the long run; and Kauai is definitely into the long run on the challenge of homelessness.

  3. Makani B. Howard November 2, 2021 9:30 am Reply

    The campers should clean up the rubbish themselves! It’s ridiculous that we have to pay for the mess they leave behind!

  4. therealhawaiian November 2, 2021 9:46 am Reply

    “We have to do our jobs and uphold the laws and rules which preclude these encampments on public lands, Neustein said.”

    Great! How about you do your job and re-locate the encampment near the Fire Station and across from the Kapaa lookout as you approach Kealia Beach? We could go on and give you 20 health, safety, crime, deadly traffic, and security reasons this, and all the other illegal takeovers (encampments) like it must be prohibited for our ‘aina, but you already know them! It is your job to find acceptable accommodations for all of them that do not allow them to violate our society protecting laws. Please do your jobs now!

  5. jo November 2, 2021 12:19 pm Reply

    can clean up hanamaulu while you at it

  6. DaynaKauai November 2, 2021 5:05 pm Reply

    How can anyone applaud this effort? Many of the employees in the islands service industry are homeless, because their pay is too low to live AND there is no housing available even if they could afford it. Camping should be an alternative if you want them to keep flipping your burgers and selling you things. Regulating the camp sites humanely and providing proper facilities should be a piece of cake, but the negative stereotypes of homelessness persist. Stray cats can access more services than the homeless in Kaua’i. More and more will become homeless and organize, if no one stands up for the people soon.

  7. Randy Naukana Rego November 3, 2021 6:02 am Reply

    Again, and thanks to our elected officials for median house prices close to $1,000,000!!!…DLNR goes after the people who have nothing, gotta enforce those rules!.. but in places like Waipake, the rich people are allowed to desecrate, deficate and destroy historical Hawaiian sites, springs, loi…. all agreed to in writing be protected…but no, DLNR doesn’t enforce against rich people in Waipake…they go after, with zeal, those who have nothing…the Aloha is overwhelming.

  8. Bkat November 3, 2021 12:20 pm Reply

    This i a Global, national problem, if you want to make it a problem… interesting that a lot of complaining from non indegigonus people, especially Howard lmao…. you can’t make this shit up….I suppose the Hawaiian State relegated to prostituting themselves for ‘mo Money’, now they want to enforce the laws, the same institution that basically created homelessness on the kingdom of Hawaii….have a great day pretending who you think you are lol…. enjoy your journey one time on planet Earth… peace and Love always…

  9. Alvina Kawaihae November 3, 2021 4:39 pm Reply

    Department of public safety ought investigate the homeless crisis. Where did they work? We’re they lawfully evicted? If not, they could have been put in harm’s way, and that uncentrified. A lot of negative, negativity and corruption surround housing. Vilify them! Once we have people with aloha, and not centrist racism management officials, I believe homelessness resolutions can be enacted.

  10. Meghann November 4, 2021 12:25 pm Reply

    RESPONSE to the article in your November 2, 2021 edition titled “DLNR Sweeps Wailua Encampment” with no author identified.

    I found it very offensive and riddled with untruths. The article states that the campers were given notice “more than a month ago” when they were only given two weeks’ notice to move. According to our Kauai district land agent, Alison Neustein, campers are not allowed on state conservation lands. She states that her department has received complaints about this camp over the past year. The 20 kupuna and their caregivers were moved there only two months ago after their last sweep from Lydgate. Also she states that there was “no sanitary facilities” although our group provided a portable lua and the campers built a shower. The campers and volunteers cleaned the area and made it attractive and livable. Then she goes on to blame our kupuna for stealing water from neighbors with no proof and only suspicion. Then she has the audacity to state that many campers have refused shelter or transitional housing. Last time I checked there is no shelter or transitional housing available for these folks.

    I participated in a zoom meeting 10/22/21 facilitated by Kamealoha Smith of Hoomana along with Alison Neustein as well as many community members working on houseless solutions. During this meeting Ms. Neustein had no answers or solutions for us as she is rather new to the job and needs to “do her research”. Well Ms. Neustein did you find any answers to our questions or better yet did you identify a suitable piece of land for these kupuna to move to?

    Barbara Penn, Wailua Homesteads
    Healing Kauai’s Houseless and Community Needs

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