City hires security guards to curtail homeless activity at 9 Honolulu parks
  • Tuesday, December 18, 2018
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City hires security guards to curtail homeless activity at 9 Honolulu parks

  • Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced today that he was hiring security guards from Hawaii Protective Association for one month to see if there are fewer complaints about homeless in the parks.
    (Video by Cindy Ellen Russell / crussell@staradvertiser.com)
  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Mayor Kirk Caldwell walks along the sidewalk at Aala Park where homeless encampments nearly make pedestrian traffic impassable. Aala Park is one of the nine parks that will now have security guards.

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Starting today, two private security guards will begin patrolling nine city parks in the urban core to clamp down on illegal homeless activity.

The city is spending $44,000 to Hawaii Protective Association for a one-month pilot project that will see two guards taking turns rotating among the nine parks 24 hours a day.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he hopes the patrols result in a reduction in the number of homeless-related complaints.

“No one group has a right to our public spaces,” Caldwell said. “People demand that they be safe in our parks and on our streets.”

Caldwell announced the pilot project at Old Stadium Park in Moiliili, which reopened today after the city closed it and nearby Moiliili Neighborhood Park, Crane Community Park and Pawaʻa In-Ha Park on Sept. 5 for “maintenance,” which spread the parks’ homeless people into various neighborhoods.

The four parks now will see security guards from Hawaii Protective Association, along with Aala Park, Kamamalu Neighborhood Park, Mother Waldron Neighborhood Park, Ala Wai Community Park and Ala Wai Neighborhood Park.

The pilot project follows the city’s hiring of American Guard Services Inc. in April to lock bathrooms and gates at night at 41 city parks across the island following more than 600 acts of vandalism to city parks in three years.

Today, soon after the nylon fencing came down at Old Stadium Park, a handful of homeless people reappeared, including Richard “Richy” Ugarte, 44.

Ugarte, who has been homeless for nearly 20 years, was accompanied in the park by his three dogs, which is a park violation.

Ugarte said he has 11 warrants for failing to pay citations including violating park closure hours and violating the city’s sidewalk nuisance ordinance.

Marc Alexander, executive director of the city’s Office of Housing, said the private security guards will be accompanied by on-going social service assistance to get more homeless people off the street.

So far this year, Alexander said, the outreach efforts are on pace to see more than 4,300 homeless people get housed.

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