11 • 08 • 2021
Limit the length of emergency shoreline structures on Hawai'i beaches.
Senate Bill 2519 is an important step towards limiting the length of time emergency shoreline structures can remain in place along eroding coastlines. While emergency permits are typically limited to 3 years, sandbags and other emergency shoreline stabilization projects are rarely removed when expired due to lax enforcement or being granted extensions. In some cases, emergency sandbags are still in place, and negatively impacting the coastal environment, after 10 years.
In Hawaiʻi, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) oversees permitting for shoreline stabilization projects like sandbags and seawall repairs. Despite shoreline hardening being outlawed in Hawaiʻi (since 2020), more than 230 environmental exemptions have been granted to coastal property owners to install, repair, or replace shoreline hardening structures in the last 20 years. More than 60 of these exemptions involved permitting emergency sandbags. Sandbags interact with the coastline similar to seawalls and result in the disappearance of sandy beaches.
In 2021, Surfrider Foundation supported Senate Bill 1310 which would require enforcement of the 3-year emergency permit limit. While the bill did not pass, DLNR is currently revising its rules governing shoreline structures with a focus on the emergency permits for sandbags. Surfrider Foundation believes that enforcement of the 3-year time limit on emergency shoreline structure permits is a critical step towards protecting the public shoreline. Surfrider Foundation is commenting on DLNRʻs updated rules and is engaged in legislation to ensure enforcement of statewide shoreline policies, while also strongly support SB2519.