Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New Law Protects Beach Access and Prevents Shoreline Erosion

Governor Lingle today signed into law House Bill 1808, a bill that prevents private property owners from blocking shoreline access by planting or cultivating vegetation. The bill, now Act 160, was introduced by Rep. Hermina Morita (District 14 – Hanalei, Anahola, Kealia, Kapaa, Waipouli), Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection.

“For more than a decade, concerned community members have been painfully aware of the abuses happening along our shorelines,” said Rep. Morita. “Adjacent property owners have been planting and cultivating salt tolerant plants to block lateral shoreline access or pushing the vegetation closer to the sea to manipulate the shoreline certification process.”

The new law requires the Department of Land and Natural Resources to maintain beach transit corridors by prohibiting land owners from planting vegetation that interferes with the corridors. It also establishes access to the corridors as a policy within the Coastal Zone Management Program. Notice will be given to property owners adjacent to the corridors if vegetation from their property blocks access to the shoreline. The department has the authority to take enforcement action if the issue is not resolved after 21 days.

“The passage of this bill will help to enforce Hawaii's long standing policy to protect as much of the beach as possible as a public trust resource, and to maintain the dynamic nature of our beaches to prevent shoreline erosion,” continued Rep. Morita. “I want to thank the many dedicated community members from all walks of life who have come together throughout the State and who have worked with various governmental agencies, as well as beach experts, to help address this issue in both the courts and through legislation.”

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