Stop It Right Now!!

When we lived in Punaluu on the ocean, our house and the one just Kaaawa of us had protective seawalls that kept our yards 40 feet from the vegetation-less shoreline. But our preservation meant the yard just Hauula of us and without a seawall was being eaten up by all that displaced wave energy.

Makai of our current house near Diamond Head was the old Jim Nabors home and front yard pool, all protected by a high seawall. (A new owner is building a new house on the $12 million property.) That and the Doris Duke seawall and stone groin have meant no beach all the way past Black Point and a small, disappearing beach near the Kulamanu Place ocean access area.

Lanikai is seawall heaven. A big stretch of Waimanalo beach, where Barack Obama may or may not be living soon, is drowned  because of the permitted seawall that the current owner wants to heighten and strengthen.

UH scientists are predicting that we could lose 25 miles of Oahu’s beaches because of ocean rise and that there will be a popular push for permitted seawalls to save all those expensive homes people are still building just beyond that 40-foot setback. They don’t care about beach. They care about keeping salt water out of the house!

We have abetted this trend by granting seawall permits as part of our economic plan to have successful properties which generate taxes. You can’t collect tax on underwater land.

Our City officials who do shoreline management along with the state have been casual about giving out hardship variances for both walls and rock revetments. What that does is move coastal hardening further down the shoreline, which then increases the erosion rate of land in the unwalled areas. That is not Coastal Zone Management as Congress intended with its 1972 law. That is simply caving in to people who paid enormous prices to be the “on the water” and now want to get “off the water” but not too far off.

There’s talk of local government assisting waterfront owners who have to move — some prime examples in Sunset Beach — because of erosion right up to their doors. I say they damn sure knew, with common sense, that there would be erosion and tsunami dangers when they bought. They do not deserve subsidies or any lost property reimbursement as either cash or a tax credit.

We’re going to have enough expense working out a plan for that threatened roadway out Hauula-to-Kaaawa way. Do we move it inland and buy out the mauka houses? Elevate it? Build a huge seawall that can withstand any surge?

We did not think ahead. Now, we’re not thinking. Just reacting.


Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Biafran War in Nigeria (1968) Vietnam War (1969-73), Iraq in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. 2 Emmys for documentaries. Married to journalist Denby Fawcett; one daughter. Brett Jones, foreign service officer, State Department.

6 replies on “Stop It Right Now!!”

  1. Thank you! And yes, “planning” has been, and continues to be a bad joke. I call the DPP the department of permitting and (slower) permitting. I owned a house on the beach, a little itty bitty thing, but it was all I ever dreamed of, with my favorite surf break out back-and Kam Hwy a few feet from my front door. Erosion got worse each year so I finally determined I had to sell before my lot started shrinking. I could have protected my home, at least temporarily, by using legal “emergency,” or other illegal means, but I’m strongly opposed to shoreline hardening. Recent attention this wide spread erosion is receiving is being portrayed as “new” knowledge, so NOW we have to pay attention! This is NOT new, and anybody paying attention should have known-erosion is getting worse every year and shoreline hardening speeds up the process-this has been known and ignored by those with the power to do anything about it. The Sunset Beach area is now a hot spot for erosion and many homeowners have been given permission to install “emergency” measures -black fabric-to save their pripertues. In some cases, at least during medium to high tides, we can no longer walk along the beach, because it is gone. Rumor has it that at least one of the homeowners installed a cement wall and then wrapped it in the black fabric the “camouflage” it. Believe me, I feel for the folks who have owned a place on the beach for generations, or whatever, but there are just as many or more, who have bought more recently, knowing there would be problems, and assuming they would be able to do what’s necessary to preserve their piece of paradise. Shoreline hardening is a losing proposition for the general public. We MUST stop it right now!!

  2. The wave action is not the same as shore line loss as season bring in sand and out. Take Waikiki with sand deposited out side the surf area and dredging to bring it back. In the near miss hurricane the shore was built up. Sand went in land into halekulani pool even.
    With onshore winds much of the erosion of lots combine with poor design for mitigation as in a stepped pad in front of property. It has a long part out then a short step down. Also ways to hold the shore and not make plantings. Surf can rise to over flow the sea walls but then erode under pads and boulders put in to hold it. If the walls were allowed they must be made whole again.

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