Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, March 6, 2005

All beach access would be mapped under House bill

By Tara Godvin
Associated Press

As new developments pop up along Hawai'i's coastlines, some lawmakers are concerned that locals may be getting deprived of enjoying the beauty of the state's hallmark beaches.

A bill passed by the state House on Friday would pay for a plan to survey and map all of the public access points to the state's shoreline.

The idea behind the bill is to preserve those access points and potentially plan for new ones, said Rep. Marcus Oshiro, D-39th (Wahiawa, Poamoho), co-sponsor of the bill.

Public access to beaches across the state is one of the remarkable things about Hawai'i, where the public can walk to the ocean beside expensive hotels in Waikiki or million-dollar homes on Maui, he said.

At Velzyland beach on O'ahu's North Shore, for example, some owners of expensive homes have built high walls, sparking concern for local surfers, divers and picnickers, said Oshiro, who as a surfer has a special appreciation for access to beaches.

"We're seeing development taking place statewide, and our fear is local people may be being deprived of public access to local beaches," said Oshiro.

Some representatives, however, called the measure duplicative.

Rep. Galen Fox, R-23rd (Waikiki-Ala Moana), said the bill would give power to the state that should be held by the counties.

"The Department of Land and Natural Resources testified that public access to the beaches is a job that is being handled well at the county level," Fox said.

Rep. Josh Green, D-6th (Keauhou-Honokohau), said he stood in support of the bill.

"It's been expressed to me on my island, the Big Island, that we're missing opportunities to protect our shoreline," said Green.

Counties decide where, when and how much access the public should have to the shoreline, generally case-by-case as development plans go through the approval process, said Sam Lemmo, administrator of the state Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands.

"The problem is: Can you provide access to the shoreline that is going to be adequate to people?" Lemmo said.

That question keeps public access to the shoreline a hot issue, he said.

One right protected by the state is the ability to walk along any beach in the state.

Oshiro said he wants to make sure people don't lose their ability to get to the shoreline places they enjoy.