State addresses Waikiki erosion, supports City Council bill

State addresses Waikiki erosion, supports City Council bill

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Waikiki Beach drives the tourism industry in the state. When erosion hot spots pop up, it's bad for business.

Monday, the DLNR unveiled short and long term plans to address the current area of erosion plaguing the beach fronting the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

It also threw its support behind a pair of bills moving through City Council.

"We're talking about perhaps a 10-year plan, $15-20 million basically to manage and maintain the beach," said Sam Lemmo, of the Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands division of the DLNR.

That price tag is the reason Lemmo said a public/private partnership would be "ideal". Bill 81 allows for the creation of special improvement districts for beach preservation. Bill 82 creates the Waikiki Special Improvement District. All businesses inside the boundaries would be taxed to create a special fund for making such improvements.

In this case, the state will let Mother Nature do the heavy lifting.

"This winter we got into a more persistent westerly component in the winds, as well as a west swell wrapping around in the Pacific. We do expect the trend to reverse, as the tradewinds kick in as we get in to the spring and summer," said Brad Romine of the UH Sea Grant program.

"We should start seeing sand move back into that area. Some erosion could occur in this area as it happens," he said, referencing the Kuhio beach area.

Opponents of the bills have been skeptical about the boundaries and language of it - saying it could lead to unwanted development. Lemmo offered 'no comment' on that, but was clear on the DLNR's stance.

"Hopefully we don't do this alone. It's done more as a partnership between a number of parties."

The bills are due back in City Council in April.

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