State Beach Restoration Program Raises Concerns | News, sports, jobs



A Maui bus drives past a section of South Kihei Road that is only yards from being undermined by invading wave action on Friday afternoon. The spot is near the Kihei Youth Center and Keolahou Congregational Hawaiian Church. Maui residents raise concerns about a proposal to streamline a statewide approval process for small-scale beach restoration work, saying the state has not received enough public input and the change will “expedite” a process for wealthy property owners. – The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER Photo

Maui residents are pulling a line in the sand over a proposal to streamline a nationwide approval process for small-scale beach restoration work.

The State Board of Land and Natural Resources voted 5 to 2 during a meeting on Friday – with board members Doreen Canto of Maui and Wesley “Kaiwi” Oahu‘s Yoon disagrees – to approve a revised state plan to expand, revise, and streamline a complex permit process for restoring coastlines along statewide coastlines.

The permit plan, overseen by the Department of Conservation and Coastal Land of the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, would expand an existing small-scale beach nutrition program to allow private homeowners associations, individual landowners, and government agencies to obtain state and state permits through a single application.

The Small-Scale Beach Nourishment Program would be broken down into Categories I (up to 500 cubic feet of sand), II (up to 10,000 cubic feet), and III (up to 25,000 cubic feet). The program would not apply to sandbag revetments, but sandbag ledges can be considered.

“A programmatic goal is to encourage oceanfront property owners to seriously consider beach nutrition as an alternative to coastal armor, which can be achieved by streamlining permits for small-scale beach restoration projects.” State documents said.

Tiger Lee plays in a hammock with daughter Kaia Lee, 4, while wife Bridget Lee and daughter Luana Lee, 1, watch in Maalaea on Friday. They relaxed on a public beach access that had no access to the beach. – The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER Photo

Requests to do coastal work to curb erosion have increased over the years and, according to the state, coincide with the increasing effects of global warming. All coastal work is costly, time consuming, and requires lots of permits and permits from various county, state, and federal agencies.

Spurred on by strong public opposition during the testimony, changes made to the proposal on Friday include:

• Category III measures would be submitted to the Board for final approval.

• The Hawaiian Affairs Bureau would be consulted on Categories I, II, and III.

• For final approval, all private owners would have to certify that they would not receive government Makai Coastline Certification for the pre-construction coastline for Categories I to III.

• Reasons for rejection would be that the negative effects outweigh the benefits.

• There would be a full Ka Pa’akai analysis (to determine if traditional or customary Hawaiian practices are affected), a public trust analysis, and a public board meeting for each Category III project.

“Given the testimony we had, this deserves a lot of care.” said board member Chris Yuen, who introduced the changes.

Following the vote, Maui coastal activist Kai Nishiki, along with a Kauai witness, filed separate motions on a contested case. You now have 10 days to formalize it.

“While we welcome the Board’s attempt to change and clarify the proposal in the blink of an eye, the last minute additions did not fully address the questions and concerns about how the more intrusive Category III activities like sandbags and ledges are harming our public shorelines and beaches could. “” said Nishiki after the meeting. “A request to hear a contested case was the only way to ensure our concerns were addressed prior to implementing a nationwide program.”

Sam Lemmo, administrator for the Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands, denied the witnesses’ claims on Friday, saying the department is passionate about the environment and the traditional and cultural practices of Native Hawaiian people.

“There is a whole discussion about the negatives of this project and the damage it will do and the problems it will lead to.” said Lemmo. “I have problems finding my way around all of this, because that is resource protection, resource conservation, resource improvement. The programs we ran in the Hawaiian Islands have been very successful. We didn’t see any negative environmental impact. It even improves the habitat for marine life. “

He later added that more could be done with public relations.

The majority of the testimony came from Maui, with residents saying the state conducted little to no consultation with the community about the major change to the statewide permits “Fast lane” a process for wealthy property owners. Witnesses also questioned whether government-approved erosion measures actually work or whether they aggravate the natural ebb and flow of the environment.

“That has nothing to do with the locals” West Maui resident and teacher Jeremy Delos Reyes testified. “The proposed plan for Kaanapali Beach was to dredge sand off the coast and dump it on Kaanapali. For what reason? Giving the tourists the sand because someone came in in the winter, during the winter swell, and saw the beach disappear. All my life, 46 years old, the beach has run away every winter and the beach comes back every summer. So you only keep things for big companies and tourists and tourism dollars. “

Councilor Tamara Paltin, who resides in West Maui, said some of the efforts to contain coastal erosion may work, but the elephant in the room is a sea level rise with the oceans expected to rise 3.2 feet by 2100.

“Once sea level rise hits 3.2, these coastline erosion measures will no longer have the same impact as they are now, and there must be a management responsibility to every move that enables people to protect their property his retreat, “ she testified.

Francine “Aunt Mopsy” Aarona from Paia said the shoreline changes daily and that native Hawaiians have let the sand come and go for generations.

“Unfortunately, the problems we face today are our own work, yours and mine.” she testified. “From the day we said yes to hotels and short term rentals on our coast, we were not satisfied with the Pink Palace or the Moana or one of our grandfather hotels on our neighboring islands. The word ‘enough’ was not in the Book of Rules. “

Kahana, Kaanapali, Napili, Ukumehame, Puamana, Stable Road, Sugar Beach and other places on Maui were mentioned by witnesses, board members and government officials during the hour-long debate on Friday afternoon.

“It is a very delicate situation” said chairwoman Suzanne Case as she spoke about controversial coastal works in Kahana.

Nishiki said after the meeting that the community can no longer afford to take the streets when it comes to a nationwide managed withdrawal policy and that more needs to be done than pavement repairs.

“There are no easy answers” Board member Samuel “Oh” Gon III said before the vote. “This is a really difficult subject; we have to make some decision. To do nothing at this point would be irresponsible in my opinion. “

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at [email protected].

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