Wall dividing Ko Olina beach triggers city investigation


KHON2’s story on a wall that divides a beach in Ko Olina has triggered a city investigation of the landowner.

We first told you about the wall Tuesday evening, after a viewer alerted us via Report It.

The wall is at the site of the former Ihilani Resort and Spa, which is under renovation and will eventually reopen as a Four Seasons resort.

The landowner said the wall is temporary and is there to protect the public, but the city said there is no permit on file that allows the wall to be built from the shore to the water line.

Now the city says “the Department of Planning and Permitting will be sending an inspector to the site as part of our investigation and will take appropriate action upon completion of the investigation.”

Stuart Coleman, Hawaii manager of the Surfrider Foundation, an international organization that deals with issues concerning beach access and water quality, said the landowner may be in violation of state law.

ko olina ihilani wall beach access
Read more: Confusion at Ko Olina as wall blocks public beach access

“We applaud public safety, but you don’t need to take your wall all the way down to the water line while you’re working on your hotel,” he said. “That water line is public property and the public should be able to have access to it.”

Coleman said Hawaii has some of the best beach access laws in the entire country. He said in order for any construction work to be done close to the shoreline, the landowner would need a Special Area Management permit.

The landowner says the wall is there because the beach is undergoing restoration work, and doesn’t want people to get hurt.

On Monday, a representative of the landowner pointed out the removal of concrete anchors buried under the sand that once held beach umbrellas, as well as the uprooting of several palm trees.

After telling KHON2 on Monday that it had a permit, the landowner now says he is working with the city to resolve the issue.


HRS §115-5 Beach transit corridor defined. (a) The right of transit shall exist seaward of the shoreline and this area shall be defined as a beach transit corridor. For purposes of this section, “shoreline” shall have the same meaning as in section 205A-1.
However, in areas of cliffs or areas where the nature of the topography is such that there is no reasonably safe transit for the public along the shoreline below the private property lines, the counties by condemnation may establish along the makai boundaries of the property lines public transit corridors which shall be not less than six feet wide.
(b) Along beach transit corridors where the abutting landowner’s human-induced, enhanced, or unmaintained vegetation interferes or encroaches with beach transit corridors, the department of land and natural resources may require the abutting landowner to remove the landowner’s interfering or encroaching vegetation. [L 1974, c 244, §5; am L 2010, c 160, §3]


HRS §205A-1 Definitions.

“Shoreline” means the upper reaches of the wash of the waves, other than storm and seismic waves, at high tide during the season of the year in which the highest wash of the waves occurs, usually evidenced by the edge of vegetation growth, or the upper limit of debris left by the wash of the waves. [L 1977, c 188, pt of §3; am L 1979, c 200, §1; am L 1983, c 124, §7; am L 1986, c 258, §2; am L 1987, c 336, §7; am L 1988, c 352, §4; am L 1989, c 356, §4; am L 1990, c 126, §7; am L 1993, c 91, §2; am L 1995, c 104, §4; am L 1996, c 299, §3; am L 2001, c 169, §2; am L 2005, c 224, §3]

Case Notes

In the definition of “shoreline”, the “upper reaches of the wash of the waves” is the highest reach of the highest wash of the waves in non-storm or tidal conditions, “usually evidenced by the edge of vegetation growth”; merely because artificially planted vegetation survives more than one year does not deem it “naturally rooted and growing” such that it can be used to determine the shoreline. 112 H. 161, 145 P.3d 704 (2006).

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