Ke'ehi residents push for safer harbor
By James Gonser
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer
By day Ke'ehi Lagoon Boat Harbor is a quiet place used by hundreds of boaters, fishermen and their families, but by night it becomes a magnet for illegal activities that have left two dead in as many years.
She is part of a residential community of several dozen families who live on boats in the harbor or on nearby Mokauea Island and say they're tired of being intimidated and of police not doing enough to help them.
"They say they don't have enough people," Kellogg said, referring to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which is responsible for enforcing rules at the harbor. "We keep a log of when we call police, and 90 percent of the time there is no response."
As a result, "fishermen are afraid to use the ramp," Kellogg said. "They sit in their trucks and wait for them to leave. Anyone parking there has their car broken into. People are jumped and robbed but don't complain because they live here and don't want more trouble."
DLNR officials acknowledged that there are problems at Ke'ehi Lagoon and said they do what they can, given their limited resources.
Dan Davidson, DLNR deputy director, said the harbor is patrolled by Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers rather than city police. No statistics are kept by the officers on the number of calls or crimes, he said.
"Our DOCARE officers make periodic sweeps of the area," Davidson said. "They make arrests, bust up parties and will continue to do so. However ... there aren't that many officers to cover a lot of territory. So while it is our intention to beef up the sweeps, we are also going to get our boating division and our DOCARE division together trying to come up with a more comprehensive strategy to deal with the Ke'ehi situation."
To report crime, call DOCARE at 587-0077.
What to do
To report crime, call DOCARE at 587-0077.
Moniz said the boat launch area is a part of their normal patrol area.
"We try to get in there when things are happening," Moniz said. "Like long weekends."
The drowning of Dayne Daclison, 19, whose body was found Nov. 10 in the water near the boat harbor, has focused attention on the situation.
It was the second fatality there in 22 months. In January 2002, a 49-year-old man was beaten to death at the harbor.
A makeshift memorial to Daclison has been erected under a tree near the water's edge. A white tire is adorned with empty Heineken bottles, pork rinds and flowers. Friends and relatives visit the spot to mourn and leave messages on the tire.
"Just call me when you like drink," reads one message.
Chris Ilagan, 19, who went to Waipahu High School with Daclison, visited the harbor last week.
"He was a fun guy. He was cool," Ilagan said. "He just wanted to party hearty and have fun and something happened."
Given what has been going on at the harbor every night for a couple of years, "we knew somebody would get hurt," Kellogg said. "It was just a matter of time."
Ke'ehi Boat Harbor, in the industrial area between Nimitz Highway and the container yards of Sand Island, has 286 boats in slips and moored offshore, 35 of which have permits allowing people to live onboard. There is a harbor master's office and a shower and restroom building next door for residents, along with their mailboxes. The boat ramp is open 24 hours a day, but drinking alcohol is prohibited.
Larry Rodriques, who has lived on a boat at Ke'ehi Lagoon for 17 years, said drunken parties take place every night. At least 20 people living in cars park illegally at the harbor nightly.
Residents are intimidated from using their shower building at night because it is surrounded by gang members, Rodriques said.
"Every night kids come down in their cars, boom boxes going and drinking," Rodrigues said. "It's nuts. It is every single night and there is no enforcement."
Rodriques would like to see a state police substation placed at the harbor and daily enforcement of rules, including no drinking.
Davidson said the state may have to consider limiting access to the boat ramp, which is now open 24 hours a day.
"The unfortunate side of it is we are in the business of providing open areas to the public," Davidson said. "There is a difficult balance between closing an area at night and what would that do for access for all the legitimate, law-abiding people that want to use an area."
Davidson would like to meet with residents to discuss the issues and find a solution, but said they should continue to call police and DOCARE whenever problems occur.
Honolulu police Lt. Kevin Katamoto said the harbor is not under city jurisdiction and so is not patrolled by HPD, but officers will respond to 911 calls.
Reach James Gonser at email@example.com or 535-2431.