Visitors come from around the world to see Oahu’s beautiful beaches. But heaps of trash and a homeless camp at Diamond Head Beach Park are an eyesore and residents want it cleaned up.
“When I see this I get really pissed off. I get pretty angry,” said Honolulu resident Ian Martin. “I think what needs to happen is we need to clean it up right now.”
Trash bags piled high, and mounds of rubbish along the hillside. Less than 20 feet away is the ocean.
The make-shift camps and trash, stretch around the corner and down the coastline.
Midori Sudo is visiting from Japan and said she’s been to Hawaii 15 times. She said she is disappointed when she’s sees the beach in this condition.
“I thought Hawaiian Beaches are very beautiful, but it is not good. I cannot believe it.”
Nate Serota, the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation, said that the switchback trail leading down to Diamond Head Beach Park was closed for about six months. Since it reopened about two weeks ago, the trash problem at the park has gotten much worse according to regular beach goers.
Serota said they are aware of the problem. In fact, the city removed more than eight tons of trash in February before renovating the walkway down to the beach.
The next sweep of the area won’t happen for another few weeks.
“We are planning (a sweep) towards the middle to end of September,” Serota explained.
Until then, he said he will look into doing something sooner, but he hopes the community will do their part.
“This city government, and really any government agency, can’t be responsible for keeping every every area clean. That’s everyone’s kuleana. It’s everyone’s responsibility to malama aina our natural areas,” said Serota.
The first thing to remember is to always pack out whatever trash you bring in.
The trash cans were removed from the beach park area due to illegal dumping.
“We found out it was being abused. A lot of people were dumping large items. abusing those trash areas…it was becoming an untenable situation for our staff to go down there and to take all this rubbish out on a consistent basis,” Serota explained.
To alleviate the problem the trash cans were moved up to the Beach Road.
“We find that that area is more easily accessible by our parks staff and there is a lot better use of those trash cans up there,” said Serota.
Once the area is cleaned in September, there are a few things the public can do prevent these types of camps from popping up again according to Marc Alexander from the Honolulu Office of Housing.
“For example not providing food and supplies to people that live in un-sheltered settings. That only enables them to stay there. This is extremely important”
Alexander said feeding people at beach parks is illegal without a permit and it just exacerbates the problem.
“If people do this, they have to understand there’s a consequence. not only are they breaking the law they are enabling people to stay in and unsheltered setting which is bad for the people and also bad for the community.”
Alexander said community involvement is the best way to clean up problem areas.
“Part of it is the community being our eyes and ears,” said Serota. “Helping to clean some of the trash and also reporting anything illegal that they see not only to HPD but that 311 app.”
Serota explained that the Honolulu 311 app is a conduit to getting the complaints to the right city department, which will allow them to deal with issues in a more timely fashion.