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.