Kauai beach access a concern
By Paul Curtis
LĪHU'E, Kaua'i — Members of the county body that annually recommends properties to be acquired for open space and public access purposes are concerned about "vegetative encroachment and beach privatization."
Those words came from Beryl Blaich of the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund Commission during its last meeting of 2009.
While the commission failed to formally approve a list of five priority parcels for the county to consider acquiring using proceeds from the open-space fund, they did have a lively discussion about private landowners manipulating vegetation to discourage beach access, Chairwoman Jean Souza said.
Under state law, beaches are public property up to the high-water mark — the line the highest wash of the waves of the season reaches at a particular area.
Concerned citizens contend that certain beachfront landowners have planted naupaka and other hardy flora in an effort to extend their property lines toward the ocean.
Commissioner Puna Dawson, a kumu hula, engages in a practice where her dancers gather along the water on the North Shore during summer and winter solstices to dance at midnight.
She has noticed some plantings of naupaka during the recent winter solstice that weren't there at their last visit to the area.
A draft of the board's priorities for land acquisition that, once approved, will be sent to Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and the Kaua'i County Council reveals the board's concern about diminishing beach access routes.
In addition to recommending attempts to acquire land to expand the county Black Pot Park on Hanalei Bay and Salt Pond Beach Park in Hanapēpē, the commission is poised to recommend county officials use real-property-tax incentives or other means to acquire beach-access routes to Kauapea Beach (Secret Beach) near Kīlauea, Ka'aka'aniu Beach (Larsen's Beach) near Moloa'a, and Papa'a Bay between Anahola and Moloa'a. The draft priority list also contains mauka accesses to Waita Reservoir near Kōloa and Alexander Dam mauka of Kalāheo.