Litter plagues East O'ahu beach
By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser East Honolulu Writer
By Suzanne Roig
HAWAI'I KAI — Over a period of seven days, Greg Schmidt collected 10 pounds of glass shards from a 10-by-50 foot patch of sand at Alan Davis Beach.
The Hawai'i Kai resident collected the glass — in hues of brown and green — not for its beauty, but to reclaim a patch of trash-free sand for his grandchild. Still, Schmidt said, the trash keeps coming, along with other concerns.
City crews often haul out lumber construction debris used as fuel in beach area fire pits, which can be large enough to swallow small dogs. And some visitors apparently use vehicles to move heavy concrete barricades, making way for off-road rides.
"We spent about 30 minutes or so just picking up the broken glass and trash that litters the beach in a space that's about 500 square feet — enough to put out some chairs or beach mats," Schmidt said. "People are just not taking care of the beach. They talk about preserving the natural beauty of the area, but here they're just tossing their trash."
As part of a wilderness area, there are no lifeguards or comfort stations or regular groundskeepers in the beach area, which is why it's an area attractive to rubbish dumpers and others, said Alan Hong, Hanauma Bay manager, who maintains beach parks from Sandy Beach to Wailupe.
"It's a never-ending job," Hong said of the litter cleanup effort. "People dump stuff there every day."
Just last week a set of iron stairs and an air-conditioning unit were dumped at the far end of Sandy Beach, near the Ka Iwi area, Hong said. It took three crew groundskeepers to lift the stairway into a truck, which transported the junk to the city dump.
"It's an unimproved area without a caretaker," Hong said. "It's a convenient place for people to dump trash."
He added: "Most people are aware of litter. The people dumping trash aren't less aware of the concern for litter. It's not that they don't know any better. It's out of laziness and a disrespect for the land."
In response to the call of Schmidt and others to heighten awareness about beach conditions, Rep. Gene Ward, R-17th (Hawai'i Kai, Kalama Valley), is studying the problem and attempting to pinpoint which agencies or government offices are in charge of enforcing anti-litter laws and rules intended to keep cars off the beach.
"We don't want a wild country area, or a police state," Ward said. "Somewhere in between is where we need to be. Keeping our beaches clean is a bigger issue than any one government office. It's a communitywide awareness issue."
Schmidt wants people to appreciate the beauty of the wind-swept grasses and open space.
"Look at the view," Schmidt said. "It's so beautiful, and why not preserve it? Each time I come here, I spend 20 to 30 minutes cleaning up glass. No matter how much I pick up, it keeps coming back."
Waimanalo resident Ray Makaila drives by the area regularly and also sees the ebb and flow of trash. While not a frequent user of this part of Sandy Beach, Makaila said the problem stems from people — young and old — not appreciating the value of the land.
"It's a shame," Makaila said. "It's a people problem."
Reach Suzanne Roig at email@example.com.