A handful of homeless people at Mother Waldron Park in Kakaako on Friday packed up and headed out to someone else’s neighborhood after Honolulu police began issuing citations for the illegal encampment that swelled this week.
As of Thursday night, HPD officers had issued five citations for having tents in the city park; six for violations of park closure hours; and two for shopping cart violations, said city spokesman Adam LeFebvre.
Mother Waldron’s homeless population jumped this week to an estimated 50 chronically homeless people and a dozen dogs after the Hawaii Community Development Authority closed the state-owned Kakaako Gateway Parks near the University of Hawaii medical school Sunday to repair damage caused by previous homeless encampments.
Many of the homeless people in the city’s Mother Waldron Park have been on the streets for years and had been staying in one of the country’s largest homeless encampments, which sprang up in the summer of 2015 around Kakaako Waterfront Park.
John Ka‘ulupali, 59, received a $25 citation in Mother Waldron Park on Thursday for having a tent. He planned to contest the citation in District Court when he’s scheduled to appear next month.
Ka‘ulupali plans to tell the judge that he was just following police officers’ orders.
“The sergeant told us to get off the sidewalk,” Ka‘ulupali said as he patted his enormous, 6-year-old, pit-bull mix dog, Lucky. “So we came into the park. That afternoon a new police officer started giving out tickets.”
A special city cleanup crew continues to enforce the city’s stored property and sidewalk nuisance ordinances around the park.
A crew from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department on Friday added another blue sign in the park reminding people about the park closure hours — between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. — and bans on tents and alcohol.
Jan Morris and his 11-year-old daughter, Lois, walked by the newly erected sign and the homeless people it’s meant to regulate.
“Obviously, it’s not a good thing,” Morris said of the illegal encampment.