Stop the Waimānalo Sea Wall

Halt the maintenance and extension of the Waimānalo sea wall.

On November 16, 2020, the City & County of Honolulu’s DPP approved the developer’s shoreline setback variance, effectively allowing for the continued use and heightening of this seawall. We are disappointed in this result and will continue to fight for coastal preservation and beach protection.

Surfrider Foundation Oahu Chapter fought against the developers of the Waimānalo Paradise Seawall to move the seawall inland and allow the beach to be restored. The seawall currently protects a 3-acre beachfront estate. Given the vast area of land on this property, moving the seawall inland is a good solution that allows property owners to protect their property while also restoring the beach. At the very least, the developers should participate in compensatory mitigation measures, which would mean funding projects to restore the beach and paying for the negative impacts of maintaining and extending the seawall. 

Surfrider Foundation has consulted with coastal science experts that agree the seawall has destroyed the Waimānalo Beach that once resided seaward of the structure. Considering future sea level rise projections, the seawall will continue to accelerate beach loss and shoreline erosion, especially along the beaches fronting neighboring properties that do not have shoreline hardening. 

The City of Honolulu's Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) held a public hearing on October 2, 2020 where Surfrider Foundation Oahu testified to request the DPP reject the developer's request for a hardship variance to extend the seawall. The Oahu Chapter maintains that the property does not meet any of the three hardship standards needed to receive a variance. Instead, the Oahu Chapter and neighboring residents call for a compromise that allows the shoreline to migrate naturally and maintain the sandy beach. 

In Hawaii, beaches are a public trust, and the state is constitutionally obligated to preserve and protect them. However, the Waimānalo property owners have repeatedly exploited loopholes built into Hawaii’s coastal planning system. Recent studies further speak to the dire need for change in historical practices of coastal armoring, including repair and maintenance of existing walls. New armoring as well as repair and maintenance of existing armoring may lead to 40% of the beaches on Oahu to vanish in only 30 years. We must preserve our sandy beaches for future generations.

Coastal Preservation