Department of Land and Natural Resources Takes Civil Enforcement Action Against Kahala Oceanfront Property Owners

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has taken civil enforcement action this month against 9 Kahala oceanfront property owners whose encroaching vegetation is blocking the public beach transit corridor. These cases are still pending landowner response to comply.

DLNR’s Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands and its Administrative Proceedings Office also jointly issued 9 Civil Resource Violation Notices between September to November targeting beach encroachment violations at sites scattered from the Diamond Head area to Hawai’i Kai on the island of O’ahu.

“Maintaining public access along the shoreline is important and fortunately, a law is in place to ensure the beaches are kept free of encroaching vegetation from coastal properties that block the public right of way,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson.

“Our goal is to preserve the State’s beach resources for the promotion of economic and recreational activities by Hawai‘i’s residents and visitors alike,” Aila said.

“We are pleased that so far property owners have responded positively, and have satisfactorily removed or trimmed back encroaching vegetation so that people can continue to use public beach areas,” he said.

Act 160 passed by the 2009 Legislature amended Chapter 115, HRS to reaffirm public policy of extending public use and ownership of Hawai‘i’s shoreline to ensure the public’s lateral access along the shoreline.

Under this statute, DLNR is authorized to maintain public access within beach transit corridors under Chapters 115 and 183C, HRS by requiring private property owners to ensure that beach transit corridors abutting their lands shall be kept passable and free from human–induced, enhanced, or unmaintained vegetation that interferes or encroaches in the beach transit corridors.

After notification, property owners are given 21 days to come into compliance or face criminal fines (HRS Sec. 115-9) of $1,000 after 21 days, and $2,000 for repeated violations. Civil fines may also be levied under Sec. 183C-7, HRS up to $15,000 plus administrative and enforcement costs as well as any mitigation and restoration costs that might be incurred by the department.

Continued compliance with the law means keeping beach corridors passable and free of encroaching vegetation DLNR stresses that the community’s support and voluntary compliance are essential in fulfilling its mission in protecting the State’s coastal land and shoreline.

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