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Shoreline setbacks on the island of Maui, Hawaii : An analysis of shoreline variability, existing policy, and recommended alternatives Public Deposited

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  • Coastal erosion hazards on the Island of Maui can be divided into two general categories. Chronic shoreline retreat results from the gradual narrowing of beaches and shorelines over time under the influence of long-term dominant coastal processes and features of the littoral sediment budget that cause local sediment deficiencies. Episodic shoreline retreat results from large episodic erosion events such as Kona storms, hurricanes, and large seasonal swell, and is typified by rapid recovery of the shoreline to its original position. Previous studies of coastal erosion on Maui have focused on chronic erosion, providing projections of future shoreline position based on extrapolation of historical erosion data. These studies, while helpful in predicting the long-term position and future behavior of the shoreline, lack a careful consideration of episodic erosion hazards and do not specifically address the dynamic nature of Maui's coastline. It is this dynamic shoreline behavior that often constitutes the most severe coastal erosion hazard at many locations on Maui, and is often not represented in long-term average erosion rate analyses. This study builds upon previous studies, analyzing existing, raw shoreline position data to quantify the dynamic nature of Maui's coastline. This report also provides a quantitative assessment of current shoreline setback policy based upon these historical shoreline variability data. Coastal development on Maui is currently prohibited between the shoreline, defined as the highest annual reach of the wash of waves, and a shoreline setback line, located at a distance from the shoreline that varies according to lot size. Existing shoreline setback regulations do not take into consideration the history of shoreline variability at particular locations, and as a result, have often failed to protect coastal development and public resources from the effects of coastal erosion. This failure has been widely reported elsewhere, but to date has not been quantified. Finally, recommendations for changes to Maui's current shoreline setback regulations to better incorporate data from the above analyses are presented. Regulatory changes that further limit the range of permitted uses of coastal property raise significant legal issues. Central to the discussion are the principles of the public trust doctrine and the provisions of the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment prohibition of governmental takings without just compensation. An overview of these issues is presented, including a discussion of several key features specific to the public trust doctrine in Hawaii and several unique characteristics of Hawaii's coastal zone management regulatory framework that play a key role in how these policies affect the feasibility of new shoreline setback regulations. A model shoreline setback ordinance for Maui County that incorporates the issues discussed in this report is presented. 3
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