Big Island home falling into ocean a public safety threat, residents say

Honolii home verge of collapsing into ocean
Honolii home (courtesy: Instagram/iammoke_)
Honolii home (courtesy: Instagram/iammoke_)
Honolii home in danger from coastal erosion (courtesy: Facebook/David Woodcock)
Honolii home in danger from coastal erosion (courtesy: Facebook/David Woodcock)
bird's-eye view of home (courtesy: Google earth)
bird's-eye view of home (courtesy: Google earth)
side view of home (image: Hawaii News Now)
side view of home (image: Hawaii News Now)

HILO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Big Island home is in danger of collapsing into the ocean because of erosion, and pieces of the property have already fallen into the sea.

Surfers and lifeguards who are familiar with the area say the cliff side has been deteriorating for years. But the situation has gotten critical in recent days, and onlookers worry that falling pieces from the home could injure oceangoers.

Despite the public safety threat, government agencies appear unsure on how to proceed.

Both county and state officials told Hawaii News Now last week that they hadn't heard about the situation, and that they couldn't intervene until the homeowners come forward.

That concerns Honolii Beach Park Ocean Safety Officer Pono Kodani.

Kodani said something needs to be done before someone gets seriously injured.

"It's definitely a safety hazard. One of my fellow ocean safety officers, an avid fishermen, walked over there and literally had a rock that fell off from the slab and hit himself in the head. Found himself in the water face down," Kodani said.

Kodani walked the shoreline directly beneath the home during low tide and said he saw concrete slabs, gunite, rebar, plastic and tile.

Kaliloa Lee Loy, who surfs the area about four times a week, said it is not a matter of if the house will fall, it's a matter of when.

"I'm very curious as to what are the environmental impacts? Because of course there is debris going into the ocean. And who is responsible for cleaning that up? And how can they further prevent the entire house from falling into the ocean?" Loy said.

This isn't the first home in the islands to be threatened by erosion, and environmentalists warn rising sea levels will put more oceanfront homes in danger in the decades to come.

Last winter, high surf on Oahu's North Shore threatened several homes, and at least one home was severely damaged.

In this case, it's unclear whose responsible for assessing the threat to the public from the falling home.

Hawaii County officials said the situation is the state's purview.

But the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said the county should be the lead agency.

Nevertheless, DLNR officials advised the homeowners contact them immediately to come up with a plan. So far, no one has been able to get in contact with the homeowners.

Both Kodani and Loy said they just want the ocean, shoreline, and anyone who may be in that home to be protected.

"Just to have that erosion just going and going and you have your whole deck gone and now the pali is right up to the edge of your house, that would be nerve-racking for me," Kodani said.

"I would hope that whoever is responsible for this house, who owns it, whoever is responsible can take the proper measures to ensure that this house does not fall into the cliff entirely," said Lee Loy.

Hawaii News Now was not able to reach the owners of the home for comment.

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