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City clears out homeless camps at Keaau Beach Park

By Gordon Pang

LAST UPDATED: 5:43 p.m. HST, Mar 9, 2011

City crews began clearing about 25 vacated homeless encampments at Keaau Beach Park this morning.

The city gave notice to homeless campers to leave by 8 a.m. today.

Only one person remained when police arrived at 6 this morning, said police Sgt. Lloyd Keliinui.

About 20 people camping at the beach left yesterday, Keliinui said.

According to a recent estimate, about 200 homeless, including 70 children and 30 pets, lived at the park. They were notified about the clean up, beginning about 8 weeks ago, and outreach groups have been working to get them into shelters.

Most apparently went to homeless shelters or are staying with family and friends. Others moved and set up camp in an undeveloped stretch of coastline northwest of Keaau they call "the brush."

The park is being closed in a city beautification effort on the Leeward Coast.

City Deputy Parks Director Al Tufono said it will take about three weeks to clean, repair and renovate  broken fixtures, comfort stations, and picnic tables. Crews will also do some landscaping

After it is reopened, campers will have to obtain permits, which will allow them to stay up to three nights at a time.

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