There’s been a veritable binge of media attention to the sprawling Waianae Boat Harbor squatter camp over the past week, and yesterday a big group of the squatters trudged to the state capitol to argue that they should be allowed to remain or given free state land elsewhere.
So is a “sweep” of the encampment imminent, as the above headline on the Civil Beat news site suggests?
Well, not according to the story itself, the first sentence of which quotes the state’s homeless honcho as saying that “The state has no immediate plans to clear out a well-established homeless encampment near the Waianae Boat Harbor.”
The Department of Land and Natural Resources, which owns the land but has failed miserably to manage it, released a public statement saying essentially the same thing, and urging the squatters to move into new transitional housing to be offered nearby by the City and County of Honolulu.
So why publish a headline suggesting a “sweep” is coming?
I’ll never understand why media people seem to deliberately try to create controversy with misleading headlines and other distortions. Aren’t the problems complicated enough already?
A more accurate headline on the newspaper’s website simply stated that “Waianae homeless camp seeks help from state,” which pretty much sums it up.
So will the state help them, finally?
The problems at the camp are many, according to the recent flurry. They include a skyrocketing water bill for the harbor due to several hundred squatters taking advantage of a water supply that is free to them but for which boaters and others pay.
The destruction of a rare ecosystem and endangered shrimp habitat is another issue, along with the disturbance and destruction of historic artifacts.
And then there are the inevitable heaps of trash, hundreds of dogs, and buckets of shit.
So how did the problems get so bad?
Well, that’s what happens when you do nothing as problems grow and grow.
The Abercrombie administration did absolutely nothing to address the situation at the harbor over four years, and it seems that the former harbor master, who later became Abercrombie’s head of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, had basically allowed the camp to grow under an agreement that he wouldn’t push for a cleanup as long as the squatters “managed the place.”
It’s pretty amazing that one individual can seemingly allow hundreds of squatters to trespass on state land for years and years, building semi-permanent structures and running up the public water bill with no repercussions.
Well, Abercrombie’s administration never really seemed to gel into a coherent group of leaders, and he seemed to mostly just run his mouth and piss people off until voters gave him a drop kick of epic proportion.
Now it’s somebody else’s problem, and it’s a big one. And that somebody hasn’t done anything about it for nearly four years, but now angry voters are lining up to maybe drop kick him even harder.
So now, finally, the state is trying to address the situation.
Should it really take a political war and the threat of ouster for our public officials to get off their duffs, show some leadership, and address obvious problems?