Gov. Green issues emergency proclamation for former Uncle Billy’s hotel in Hilo

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The former Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel.

Earlier this month, Hawai‘i County Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy, who represents the Banyan Drive area, introduced Resolution No. 199 to ask Gov. Josh Green for help to deal with public safety issues at the abandoned and dilapidated property that formerly was the iconic Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel by issuing an emergency proclamation

“This is a request by the community to get something done at Banyan Drive — Uncle Billy’s has reached a crescendo,” the Councilwoman said. “Drastic and swift action has to be taken.”

On Tuesday, Green did. He issued an emergency proclamation for the state-owned property, which mandates the state to urgently:

  • Build a perimeter fence to secure the property
  • Demolish and remove the 148-room hotel’s structures and hazardous materials, “as repair was determined to be infeasible in an architectural assessment completed for the property, and in any event cannot be completed in time to reduce the public health and safety risks”
  • Restore the site, including hazard abatement to the extent permitted by the available funds.
On March 4, 2022, firefighters survey the damage inside the building that used to be Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel. (Photo Credit: Department of Land and Natural Resources)

The once thriving and popular hotel was a fixture on Banyan Drive for more than 50 years and a favorite for kamaʻāina and visitors alike. But it has become anything but accommodating since its permanent closure in 2017.

It has long been condemned and is dilapidated to the point where most of the rooms are exposed to the elements and debris is strewn throughout the structure.

The former hotel, under the jurisdiction of the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources, is now a source of trouble and danger.


The proclamation said the condition of the property and hotel has attracted trespassers,
enabled drug use, fighting and other illegal activities, and has experienced numerous fires.

In data provided in the county resolution, from September 2018 to April 2023, Hawaiʻi Island police responded to 157 incidents at 87 Banyan Drive (former Uncle Billyʻs); and from May 2018 to May 2023, the Hawaiʻi Fire Department responded to 28 calls at the property.

The proclamation states: “Despite regular security presence, the lack of repairs, maintenance, and operations has contributed to unsafe, unhealthy and hazardous conditions at the property and abandoned hotel. These include overall structural decay, unabated hazardous materials, fire damage, water intrusion, falling ceilings, exposed rebar, overflowing sewage, mold and mildew. These unsafe and unhealthy conditions endanger the lives of members of the public, adjoining hotel patrons and trespassers, as well as law enforcement officers and other first responders who have responded frequently to service/incident calls to the property.”


The State Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement has also conducted numerous sweeps and enforcement actions at the property from 2018 to 2023. But the trespassers and illegal activity keep returning.

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