KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii — A Hawaii mayor has declared a state of emergency to find a space to relocate homeless people pushed out of a Big Island park.

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim hopes to create a permanent relocation site for the homeless asked to leave Old Airport Park on Wednesday by repurposing a portion of state-owned land associated with Kamakana Villages affordable housing developments, West Hawaii Today reported (http://bit.ly/2vz8tm5).

Kim said he learned last week that the state does not plan to further develop the plot. He declared the state of emergency to capitalize on the opportunity, Kim said.

Under the state of emergency, Kim can bypass certain processes and move along faster. He noted that the county already received verbal approval to use the land from Gov. David Ige.

“I saw an opportunity, and I wanted to grab it,” Kim said. “I want to have our program become a part of that program, and that’s the reason for the emergency declaration.”

The administration plans on quickly clearing the land and setting up tents, along with showers, portable toilets and a drinking water source, Executive Assistant Roy Takemoto said. He estimated the site would be large enough to support the 45 people displaced after leaving the park and other homeless people over Kailua-Kona.

If Kim can obtain the land around Kamakana Villages, the mayor proposes building more affordable housing and potentially market housing and mixed-use lands.

Kamakana is a more attractive option for the mayor because it has more open-ended possibilities, and some community members have already extended their financial assistance if the opportunity materializes, Takemoto said.

“If the county assumes control of Kamakana, we would look to experienced developers who know how to tap into all those different pots of money,” he said.


Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com