Letter: UH Expert Urges Protection Of Beaches, Not Seawalls

posted in: Climate Change, June 2015 | 0

“Losing Ground,” your May article on the shoreline struggles facing DLNR, was, as always, very informative and straightforward.

Certainly the issues tied to beach erosion and sea level rise are going to worsen with time. Indeed, your article provides evidence that they have begun to magnify out of control.

Authorities described much interest in streamlining the easement issue, reducing costs to the homeowner and state, and better equipping our government system to accept shoreline encroachments resulting from coastal erosion.

In the course of your research, did anyone express concern for protecting beaches?

All of the effort described in your article is designed to more easily legalize seawalls – the cause of beach loss on the over 70 percent of our shoreline that is chronically eroding. Hawai`i has lost miles of  beaches because of seawall construction. Last week we heard the City and County of Honolulu has now permitted a seawall to be built on undeveloped property.

Hawaii does not need a plan to increase seawalls. We need a plan to protect beaches.

So that seawall construction can be avoided, I believe such a plan must include an exit strategy for property owners threatened by erosion.

Part of me is loath to donate my tax dollars to buy out irresponsible beachfront owners who gladly accept all the benefits of beach living but do not take responsibility for the fact that they live on the edge of a capricious environment. Yet I also recognize that we will make no progress on this issue until we provide a means for these owners to relocate. New public funds, tied to carbon, and channeled through programs such as DLNR’s Legacy Lands Conservation Commission, can be one such strategy.


Chip Fletcher, Kailua

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