Cataluna: Weeks after reopening, beach is already trashed
The Japanese tourists walked down the new $2 million paved footpath to the beach just east of the Diamond Head lighthouse.
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The Japanese tourists walked down the new $2 million paved footpath to the beach just east of the Diamond Head lighthouse. The mom and dad walked together while the little boy scampered ahead and his sister lagged behind, too busy skipping to a song in her head to worry about keeping up with her parents.
The family headed right back up the path in less than a minute, all four walking together and moving quickly. They had seen what there was to see, and, no doubt, it was not what they expected.
The beach is filthy. It stinks. It does not seem safe.
The city just spent $2.08 million to mitigate rockfall, protect against erosion and put in a nice, safe walking path down Kuilei Cliffs. The path was opened only weeks ago, and damn it, squatters already have claimed the beach at the bottom as their very own.
The slopes of Diamond Head have been plagued by hard-core homeless for years — people who hide out in the brush, start fires and build huge piles of trash. But at the bottom of Kuilei Cliffs, along a beach where surfers enter the ocean, a place that would be great for picnics and peering into tide pools, the squatters’ camp isn’t hidden at all. They went right down the new $2 million walkway and claimed the beach for themselves, spreading their tattered tarps and bent carts and vast collections of trash all along the shoreline. It is shocking that a beach so pretty could be so abused.
And it reeks. It smells like there are people there living without sanitation. The people who have taken over the beach do not have bathroom facilities. There is a surfer shower near the bottom of the walkway, but there are no toilets.
It is not the city’s fault. It’s not for lack of homeless shelters or outreach efforts or enforcement. Before work started on the new walking path in February, teams from the city Department of Parks and Department of Facility Maintenance went in and cleaned up existing trash piles and makeshift domiciles in the area with help from the Police Department. They were cleared out and offered alternatives, and they came right back.
The folks who have established the large garbage-pile living spaces for themselves are relentless, undaunted by past cleanup efforts, unwilling to consider any place but the prime slice of public beach for their home.
Nobody wants to be the bad guy who charges in there and forcibly yanks the squatters and throws them in jail, but current efforts clearly aren’t working and another public beach no longer belongs to the public.
The beach at the foot of Diamond Head could be a nice little cove for families, but even the wide-shouldered surfers hauling their big boards down the cliff to the water don’t linger for very long. They walk gingerly over the sand, put their boards in the water and paddle away from the garbage piles as fast as they can.
Reach Lee Cataluna at 529-4315 or email@example.com.