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Enforcement of Illegal Erosion Control Structures

Action Alert! Hold Coastal Property Owners Accountable For Shoreline Violations

On Thursday and Friday (Dec. 7-8, 2023), the Board of Land and Natural Resources will be evaluating recommendations from the Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands to bring fines and penalties against homeowners who have ignored notices of violation and expired temporary permits. Although Hawaiʻi has a strong policy against shoreline hardening, it is only in more recent years that OCCL has taken a stronger stance in ensuring that private property owners are held accountable for their actions. One of the homeowners on the agenda is Joshua VanEmmerik who laid rebar and poured concrete on the public beach in the fall of 2022. 

Hereʻs how you can help:

  • Click here to email the Board of Land and Natural Resources and tell them that coastal property owners must be held accountable for illegal structures and shoreline violations
    • Email:
    • Subject Line: BLNR Item K-1 and BLNR K-5 - Strongly Support Proposed Fines and Penalties for Shoreline Violations
    • Tell the BLNR why homeowners should be held accountable for their actions and impacts on the public shoreline. Here is Surfrider Foundation 
  • Provide virtual testimony 
    • Send your request to blnr.testimony@hawaii.govInclude your name and the two  agenda items (K-1 and K-5) on which you would like to testify. Once your request has been received, you will receive an email with the Zoom link. Requests may be made during the meeting.
  • Show up and voice your concerns at the BLNR hearing on Thursday, December 7 at 9am. 
    • Attend live at 1151 Punchbowl St. Room 132 (Kalanimoku Building), Honolulu. Please arrive at least fifteen (15) minutes prior to the meeting start time in order to add your name to the sign-in sheet.

Long History of North Shore Homeowners Ignoring Shoreline Protection Laws 

Between 2020-2021, ProPublica published a series of articles that highlighted how beachfront property owners were flouting the established guidelines for shoreline erosion control structures. While structures like sandbags, tarps, and other temporary erosion control measures may protect structures in the short term, they pose significant threats to public safety, coastal habitats, and the longevity of the public beach. 

Within the state Department of Land and Natural Resource, the Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands (OCCL) has jurisdiction over the issuance of emergency permits for temporary erosion control measures. OCCL, however, has made it clear that chronic coastal erosion is not considered an emergency situation (as compared to a hurricane or tsunami). It is also important to note that in Hawaiʻi, beaches are considered a public trust. OCCL is therefore constitutionally obligated to protect our beaches - not structures like homes or hotels that exist landward of the ocean. 

Along the North Shore of Oʻahu, homeowners have particularly flouted rules and regulations governing the installation of erosion control measures. Despite multiple warnings, homeowners along Ke Nui Road (between Rocky Point and Sunset Beach) have consistently installed illegal sandbags, tarps, and burritos - most of which are rarely, if ever, removed. At the expense of the public beach, they have hired backhoes to move and push public sand in the middle of the night to create berms in front of the homes. Some have even gone as far as to lay rebar and pour concrete on the public beach in ill-guided attempts to protect their homes. 

The unfortunate reality is that these homes have been built too close to the waterʻs edge. While Surfrider Foundation supports the state and county working to create options for homeowners to exit vulnerable shoreline areas, we also feel strongly that homeowners should face the consequences of their actions that harm the public beach and pose a public hazard. 

On December 7 and December 8, 2023, the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) will be considering recommendations from OCCL to levy fines and other penalties against the owners at two separate properties along Ke Nui Road on the North Shore of Oʻahu.

  • Freeman Property (K-1) - proposed fines up to $937k for the violations in October and November 2023. Required to remove all violating materials AND remove or relocate portions of the dwelling that are makai of shoreline by July 1, 2024; the property is an authorized Transient Vacation Rental 
  • Van Emmerik (K-5) - proposed fines up to $77k for the violations in October and November 2023. Required to remove all violating materials AND remove or relocate portions of the dwelling that are makai of shoreline by Sept.1, 2024; structures are currently being used as Transient Vacation Rentals 

We hope that the continued enforcement of fines and penalties for shoreline violations will hold coastal property owners accountable, clean up the shoreline from dangerous materials, deter other homeowners from committing similar violations, and ultimately protect our public beaches and enhance public access. 

Your testimony matters and is important part of holding both the homeowners and the state agencies accountable.