State Rejects Proposed Shoreline Surveys Fronting O`ahu’s Sunset Beach, Pipeline

posted in: October 2015 | 0

This article has been corrected regarding Kernot’s plans for his Sunset property.

William Kernot, who owns and operates vacation rentals fronting some of the most famous surf spots on O`ahu’s North Shore, is facing yet another winter without the shoreline protection he had planned to install for the past several months. The state Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS) last month formally rejected his two applications for shoreline certifications for his homes fronting Sunset Beach and the world renowned Pipeline surf break.

Kernot has appealed the determinations.

For his Sunset home, Kernot hopes to harden the shoreline fronting the property. He had planned to install a scour blanket last year, but could not obtain all the necessary permits. (Scour blankets can be made of geotextile material or loose stone.) This year, Kernot proposed instead to inject a hardening agent into the sand at the edge of his property. But DAGS chief land surveyor Reid Siarot, who inspected the shoreline in February with Andy Bohlander, the shoreline specialist with the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands, determined that the shoreline was further landward than what Kernot’s surveyor, Jamie Alimboyoguen, had delineated. Siarot also found that a rope fence and a portion of wooden stairs were seaward of the shoreline.

On February 19, Siarot instructed Alimboyoguen to revise the shoreline on the map and photos and to resolve the apparent encroachments. Although the rope and stairs were removed, Kernot chose not to amend his proposed shoreline. Instead, his attorney, Greg Kugle, presented Siarot with several arguments why DAGS should approve the shoreline as submitted.

In a June 23 letter, Kugle noted that Alimboyoguen had placed the shoreline along the top of the sand dune fronting the Sunset property, which was about half way up an erosion scarp created in 2013 after a severe erosion event.

“This shoreline location corresponded with the shoreline as determined by Mr. Sam Lemmo and his staff at the [DLNR’s Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands],”Kugle wrote.

“OCCL’s determination should be afforded deference in this instance,”Kugle wrote. Kugle also took issue with DAGS’s decision to take into account an October 2014 survey made by coastal engineer Joseph Little for the scour blanket Kernot plans to install. When Siarot directed Alimboyoguen in February to revise the shoreline, Siarot advised that it should coincide with the shoreline determination Little had made. Little had determined that the line between the Conservation District and the Urban District sat at the top of the erosion scarp.

In his letter to Siarot, Kugle pointed out that Little was an engineer, not a licensed land surveyor, and therefore, was not qualified to determine the shoreline. Furthermore, Little’s map “was prepared for purposes of obtaining permission from the city and DLNR to install a scour blanket as an emergency control measure to be located within the shoreline setback area. Mr. Little’s ‘top of the scarp’line runs through or mauka of two very large, very old coconut trees that would not be standing or surviving if they were makai of the shoreline. This is further evidence the ‘top of the scarp’line is not the shoreline,’he wrote.

Kugle wrote that the beach fronting Kernot’s property sustained severe erosion in October and December 2013, as did many properties in the area.

“The erosion of the beach created the scarp. This was not the case of waves running up through the vegetation to the top of the scarp. Rather, it was caused by waves eroding the bottom of the dune, causing the top or edge to retreat, on a roughly 45 degree angle. The erosion continued in a similar fashion during August to October 2014, when the storms Iselle, Julio and Ana hit Hawai`i.”

In Kernot’s defense, Little also wrote Siarot in June, complaining that his shoreline determination was being taken out of context. Siarot, however, was undeterred. On July 22, he informed Kernot that DAGS would not be amending its determination.

As for Kernot’s home at Pipeline, Siarot’s January survey of the area again found that the debris line was further landward than the shoreline Alimboyoguen had proposed. Rather than revising his maps as Siarot requested, Kernot disputed his determination.

In a March letter to Siarot, Kernot noted that state law defines the shoreline as the upper reaches of the waves at the highest tide during the season when waves are highest, except for storm and tsunami waves. Kernot argued that the debris line noted by DAGS in January resulted from a passing storm. He also argued that because a rock revetment fronted his property, the shoreline could not be found to be any further landward than the revetment.

DAGS apparently disagreed with his assessment in this case, as well, and rejected his application on September 8.

Both homes sit along Ke Nui Road, which in 2013 and 2014 experienced erosion so severe that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted landowners there a Nationwide Permit to install protection structures, including armor stone, lava rock boulders, or sand bags. The permit expires on March 18, 2017.

Kernot is not the only Ke Nui property owner to have DAGS reject his certified shoreline application recently. On August 23, the department rejected that of Stephen McGillin, who owns the lot next door to Kernot’s Pipeline property.

— Teresa Dawson

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