BREAKING: Eviction Underway at Piʻihana Homeless Camp
By Wendy Osher
The state sheriff’s office on Maui is overseeing the eviction today of an estimated 72 people who were living along the ʻĪao River between Piʻihana Road and Wili Pā Loop in Wailuku.
Officials with the sheriff’s department say each person was served with an active writ of possession informing them of the plan to begin the eviction on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013.
According to Maui Property Tax records, the 34 acre property is owned by RCFC Piʻihana LLC, and has an agricultural land designation.
Media representatives say the owner is working in coordination with the County of Maui and the Department of Public Safety (of which the sheriff’s office is a part of) to complete the eviction in compliance with a court order issued in July.
A statement issued by property owner, RCFC Piʻihana LLC says, “Over a period of many years, unauthorized dwellings and structures have been placed on the property along with animal pens, abandoned vehicles and debris, all of which accumulated under the property’s prior ownership. Numerous violations were cited by Maui County, including illegal dwellings, unauthorized uses of the property and various housing and zoning code violations.”
Company representatives further state, “Complaints from neighboring property owners have been received of drugs, gambling, abandoned vehicles and unrestrained animals.”
A hotline set up to address concerns has a message that states, “This action is being taken for safety and legal reasons and to ensure the security and dignity of the neighborhood.”
The Maui sheriff office’s Commander Patrick Sniffen said that signs were posted informing the individuals of a plan to carry out the eviction, with notification occurring over the last five months.
According to Sniffen, the eviction and cleanup of the area will continue until around Sunday, Dec. 15.
On Friday afternoon, several Sheriff’s Division personnel were on scene, along with a bulldozer that was clearing an area near the intersection of Wili Pā Loop and Imi Kala Street in the Wailuku Millyard.
While the eviction signage has since been removed, a “no trespassing sign” remains in place. Below that sign is a notice that states, “Property of: Kingdom of Hawaiʻi Trust,” that makes reference to a document number 2002-005579 / 2002-005580, which is a reference to ancestral title document numbers.
The company released information saying that, “every effort has been made throughout the past few months to provide advance notice as well as the engagement of the Maui Homeless Alliance Group to provide assistance to those living on the property.”
The Maui Homeless Alliance Group reportedly includes agencies such as the County of Maui Department of Housing and Human Concerns, Catholic Charities, Family Life Center, Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center, MEO Community Service, Mental Health Kōkua, Salvation Army, and Women Helping Women.
As early as 2006 and 2007 the County of Maui issued letters of violation to the property owner at the time Kehalani Holdings Company, Inc., citing numerous unauthorized uses of the property and various housing code violations.
According to the new owner, the Maui Corporation Counsel filed a complaint in Circuit Court in June 2011 alleging no action; and in January 2013, Kehalani Holdings transferred ownership to RCFC Piʻihana, LLC, a company formed by the financial institution which had a mortgage on the property.
Since taking ownership, RCFC continued to pursue with the court a decision on a third party complaint, while those living on the land filed motions to stay. On July 24, 2013, a Maui Circuit Court judge ordered the writ of possession, prompting today’s actions, according to property owners.