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Kamehame Ridge landowners, lessees and licensees seek relief from vandalism and trespassing

Citing trespassing, safety issues and vandalism concerns, Kamehame Ridge stakeholders have distributed a letter to online bloggers and travel websites requesting removal of all mentions of the site as a hiking and visitor destination.

Six local, state and federal agencies lease land on the privately owned area, which is known for its ocean views and made popular by online posts depicting a concrete slab known as Dead Man’s Catwalk. They believe social media promotions of the area have created an influx of trespassers, some who have vandalized agencies’ equipment and facilities.

"DHHL has grave concerns regarding the trespassing and vandalism that continues to occur on our Hawaiian Homes Trust lands," stated Jobie Masagatani, chair of the Hawaiian Homes Commission and director of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. "Like other landowners who are also experiencing these illegal intrusions upon their private property, we intend to prosecute any and all violators to the fullest extent of the law."

The vandalism has included graffiti, damage to security fencing and propane tanks, and damage to antennas that the Federal Aviation Administration uses to communicate with high-altitude aircraft.

“Wires to our building and equipment have been cut, and there’s graffiti covering our walls. We know that other agencies are getting hit, too. I’ve heard of one telecommunications office that was broken into, and communications towers that have been damaged. It’s difficult to deal with,” said Don Laidlaw, engineer for the Kuewa Project, a licensee on Kamehame.

One of the landowners on the ridge, Kamehameha Schools, has kept the area gated and also posted signs warning violators of legal repercussions.

“It’s not a safe place for hiking enthusiasts. Our tenants have seen a direct correlation between increased foot traffic and a surge in property damage,” said Todd Gray, senior land operations manager at Kamehameha Schools. “We intend to prosecute anyone found not complying with posted warning signs.”

David Goto of the Hawaiian Hang Gliding Association – a licensee on the ridge – has been repairing damage and vandalism to gates, fencing, and other structures for about 40 years. 

“Although there are numerous large ‘NO TRESPASSING’ signs at the entries and all along the road, there is a blatant disregard for the warnings. Along with the increase hiker traffic is vandalism of our launch pad area, surrounding building structures, and spray-painted graffiti covering our carpeted launch platform,” said Goto.

Landowners and agencies leasing land on the ridge hope the promotion of Kamehame as a hiking destination will cease.

 “The area is very dangerous. Two days ago, a woman had to be rescued by HFD,” said Delorese Gregoire of Winners’ Camp, a youth leadership development academy leasing space on Kamehame Ridge.

“We are asking bloggers, travel writers, and publishers to refrain from sharing images of this area and promoting these private properties as a visitor destination. We ask instead that they support the promotion of safe and legal hikes found throughout the islands.”