The city clears Maili Point of homeless campers after officials say residents complained
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jul 20, 2010
A homeless man, apparently angry at the city's eviction of homeless campers at Maili Point, lit his tent and belongings on fire yesterday as police shut down yet another illegal encampment on Oahu.
The synthetic tent burned quickly, but the man's futon-type mattress, other items and some nearby grass were extinguished after firefighters arrived at 12:12 p.m., fire Capt. Terry Seelig said.
"The fire was small and didn't extend to any brush, other than some grass," Seelig said.
City officials carried out yesterday their pledge to remove campers from the area known as Guardrails between Hakimo and Kaukama roads.
The beachfront encampment had grown to about 200 people about two weeks ago, said Sophina Placencia, executive director of Waianae Community Outreach, one of several groups that has been working to help the people there.
In May city officials gave two months' notice to outreach groups and homeless campers that they would clear the area in response to complaints from neighbors and state officials.
"In most people's eyes it became a public health and safety issue," city spokesman Bill Brennan said yesterday. "Sanitation, debris were among the things that people were complaining about."
In the last few weeks, Waianae Community Outreach placed about 20 families from Maili Point at its Onelauena shelter in Kalaeloa, and other families found space in some of the other shelters along the Leeward Coast, Placencia said.
But most of the homeless people swept out of Maili Point yesterday will not find room at shelters, many of which have waiting lists, she said.
Most of them will merely go "further and further into the bushes on this coast," Placencia said. "Most are local from this community, and they want to remain in the community."
The Oahu Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals rounded up about 70 dogs and cats, including newborn puppies and
kittens, from Maili Point, most of them yesterday.
All were taken to the SPCA shelter at Kalaeloa.
The group "spent the last two weeks talking with the Maili Point homeless camp residents about the impending beach sweep," the SPCA said in a statement yesterday. "More than half of the animals were relinquished to the Oahu SPCA and will be rehabilitated in preparation for adoption. The remainder will be fostered until their owners are able to care for them again."