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Cleaning Up Unauthorized Shoreline Structures

07 • 06 • 2023

Cleaning Up Unauthorized Shoreline Structures

Pass SB1391 to Address Unauthorized Shoreline Structures

On July 6, 2023, Governor Josh Green signed into law Act 236 (SB 1391) that authorizes the Board of Land and Natural Resources to place a lien on properties that have unauthorized shoreline structures that encroach on public lands (e.g. illegal or unpermitted sea walls, sand bags, sand burritos, tarps, etc.) or other noncompliance related to land use violations. 

The coastlines of Hawaiʻi are facing severe chronic erosion that is being exacerbated by climate change and sea level rise. 70% of the sandy beaches on Maui, Oʻahu, and Kauaʻi are experiencing chronic erosion that is further being exacerbated by rising sea levels. Homes, businesses, and public infrastructure like roads are in highly vulnerable coastal areas. 

In desperation, certain coastal homeowners have taken action on their own (or under expired permits) to protect their properties. Unfortunately, these actions most often result in harm and damage to the public shoreline. We have further seen where, despite expired permits or notice of violations issued directly to  homeowners, these unauthorized structures remain on (or impacting the) public shoreline. In some cases, unauthorized structures have remained on the public shoreline for years. 

SB1391 is an important step towards dissuading private property owners from taking illegal and unauthorized actions on the public shoreline, including the placement of illegal and/or unauthorized structures such as sandbags, tarps, concrete, rebar, etc. This bill also goes hand-in-hand with other bills currently moving through the legislature that support voluntary relocation of property owners away from vulnerable coastal areas.