Police, DLNR Conduct Sweep of Old Uncle Billy’s in Hilo
Three county and state agencies collaborated on a sweep of the former Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel on Wednesday morning.
Officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE), the Hawai‘i County Police Department and the State Department of Public Safety Sheriffs Division teamed up to search each room, with a total of 15 officers moving through all 146 rooms beginning at dawn.
DLNR reported Wednesday afternoon that the officers did not find anyone on the property. There was evidence, however, that many of the rooms had been recently occupied by unknown or unnamed parties. People who had been living in the hotel’s rooms had been notified that law enforcement would be coming in to clear it.
The iconic hotel was condemned by Hawai‘i County authorities for its unsafe condition and was subsequently placed under the jurisdiction of the DLNR Land Division, which is in the process of soliciting interest from developers to renovate the salvageable buildings on the property and demolish those that are beyond repair.
A private company is being contracted to provide 24-hour security, and DLNR is investigating the possibility of putting permanent barriers up until a new lease for the property is issued, according to a departmental release.
In many rooms, officers found trash, clothing and bedding scattered about. Graffiti was scrawled on doors and on both interior and exterior walls. The interior of the hotel is considered a public health hazard and people are cautioned to stay out.
DLNR District Land Agent for Hawai‘i Island, Gordon Heit, encountered homeless individuals living on the property previously and had things thrown at him, according to the DLNR release. He was on the property Wednesday morning to provide support for the law enforcement operation, as were homeless service providers, in case anyone was found still living in the hotel.