Concerns over rising sea levels prompt city to scale back a Waianae residential project

The number of homes planned was slashed from 21 to eight.

Concerns over rising sea levels prompt city to scale back a Waianae residential project

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city is calling for a developer to scale back a Waianae residential project due partly to concerns over climate change and rising sea levels.

The Department of Planning and Permitting said the Aloha Hale Pokai Bay must reduce the number of homes from 21 to eight because the project lies in a flood zone and because of rising sea levels.

“If the sea level rose by six feet ... much of the area surrounding the project would be inundated,” wrote Kathy Sokugawa, acting Director of the DPP.

Chip Fletcher, associate dean at the University of Hawaii’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, said the Pokai Bay project is the first time he’s seen the city apply rising sea levels as a criteria for developing a project.

Fletcher is a member of the city Commission on Climate Change, which is forecasting that the sea level will rise more than three feet by 2060. That forecast was adopted by the Mayor’s Directive on Climate Change, which went into effect this summer.

“The owners of these houses will be in a far better place, suffering far less flooding and heartache in the futures because of these guidelines,” he said.

To be sure, scaling back the project will make it difficult for developer CJ Group LLC to make a profit, which in turn, would kill the project.

A representative for the developer declined comment. But in its filings with the DPP, CJ Group said that it has addressed the flooding issue by raising the level of the homes.

Several Waianae residents said flooding is still a concern.

“When there are high waves (the water) comes in, it comes in over the sand dunes, which caused flooding,” said longtime Waianae resident and retired school principal Glen Kila.

"Secondly, when it rains the water all collects down to our homes.

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