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Lawmakers, KOA seek funding for Kaanapali Beach replenishment

By Staff | Feb 21, 2013

KAANAPALI – Companion bills to rehab Kaanapali Beach are advancing through the 27th Legislature on Oahu.

Introduced by South and West Maui Sen. Roz Baker and Rep. Angus McKelvey, the identically-worded Senate Bill 497 and House Bill 378, respectively, are acts providing “matching funds for the environmental impact statement (EIS) associated with the planned beach nourishment project at Kaanapali Beach”

Kaanapali Operations Association (KOA) President Wayne Hedani presented testimony in favor of the legislative petition.

“Kaanapali Beach is experiencing chronic and episodic severe erosion that has degraded parts of the beach and damaged shoreline infrastructure and amenities,” he told lawmakers.

“Severe wave events in 1998, 2003 and 2007 caused extensive beach loss and damaged the beach walkway.

“Since 1988, more than 35 feet of beach loss has occurred south of Hanakaoo Point. This is the area between the Marriott and Hyatt hotels,” Hedani wrote.

A critical assessment of coastal changes observed over the past century in Hawaii is part of the legislative package.

An estimated 70 percent of the beaches on the islands of Kauai, Oahu and Maui are eroding.

“The highest rates and greatest extent of beach erosion can be found on Maui, where 85 percent of the island beaches are eroding,” the state analysis notes.

KOA has been proactive in its efforts to mitigate beach loss over the past decade.

Costly ocean engineering and sand survey studies have been funded cooperatively by KOA and the Hawaii Tourism Authority, focusing on beach nourishment rather than the construction of potentially harmful hard shoreline protection structures, like revetments and seawalls.

In scientific field studies conducted by Sea Engineering Inc., two offshore sand cells have been identified and determined suitable in quality and quantity for the reseeding of the resource.

KOA is seeking matching funds to launch the project design and EIS work.

The scope includes the relocation of 75,000 cubic yards of sand to the beach to restore it to its previous position in 1988, widening the beach approximately 35 feet in the area fronting the Hyatt and Marriott hotels, and supplementing the beach berm from the same sand source for the balance of the beach north to Black Rock and south to Hanakaoo Beach Park as well.

According to Sen. Baker, protecting the resource is prudent management.

“A healthy, usable Kaanapali Beach is integral to our visitor industry on Maui and the jobs provided,” Baker said.

“But it’s much more than just an economic asset,” she added. “It provides recreational opportunities and enjoyment for our residents as well.

“The beach needs our help, and this bill is designed to begin that process by providing some of the funding required to do the in-depth EIS necessary to the planning and permitting prior to do any work on the beach or in the ocean.”

Rep. McKelvey echoed the senator’s sentiments.

“We’re trying to be proactive about it but also be sensitive,” he explained.

It is a restoration project, McKelvey continued, and it has to be done very meticulously and in concert with the Native Hawaiian community; federal partners, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary; and in consultation with the scientific community.

The goal is to avoid adverse impacts and educate the community in advance, the West Maui representative advised.

Hurdles to implementation are lengthy and costly, including design, EIS preparation and permitting at a cost of about $800,000 and two years’ time.

“KOA commits to provide $400,000,” Hedani noted, “and seeks matching state funding in 2013-2014.”

Nourishment costs are estimated to be in the $6.8 million range. KOA pledged half of that amount, asking for matching state funding in 2015-16 for the remaining $3 million-plus.

“It is a multiyear project that we want to get started as soon as possible,” Baker stressed.

Baker reported on the status of the bill as of mid-last week.

“It will now go to Senate Ways and Means for their consideration – that’s our money committee. Of course, I will advocate that this bill get their favorable consideration and cross over to the House.

“(The) bill must pass both houses in identical form before going to the governor for his action,” she continued.

” the Maui Senate Delegation is united in support of this measure. I certainly hope that the bill will be enacted, and I think it is well-positioned to make it through the process.”

“Kaanapali Beach Resort is the second biggest visitor destination in the state. It is trying to offer a proactive and environmentally friendly solution, and I am supporting it,” McKelvey concluded.