Kahala homeowners fight for rights on Kahala beach

Stanton Johnston
Stanton Johnston
Sandy Perez
Sandy Perez

By Roger Mari - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - A beach battle is brewing between Kahala homeowners and the state, in the fight for more public access on the sands.

Residents along a stretch of Kahala Beach are being asked by the state to cut away an indigenous plant to create better beach-access for the public, but some feel it will do more harm than good.

The plant in question is the Naupaka. Over the years it has grown closer to the water's edge making it difficult for people to walk along the beach. Some residents are concerned with how cutting it away might affect their property.

Stanton Johnston has lived along this stretch of Kahala Beach for 62 years. He has seen it slowly disappear from erosion, and believes that one of the only things saving what's left of the beach is the naupaka plant.

"Down here the naupaka armors the shoreline and you don't want to cut that that is a native plant in indigenous to Hawaii and it's protecting our shoreline," said Kahala Resident Stanton Johnston.

This year, Johnston and eleven other residents were advised to get rid of the invasive plant in front of their properties.

"This resident did cut the naupaka back as the state directed and now their shoreline has eroded," said Johnston.

Even if the naupaka is cut away to create easy beach access, there's still a question of safety.

"You're still going to be walking through the water at that point, also it's dangerous to walk down this beach when it's high tide," said Johnston.

Others feel the state is doing the right thing, and that nothing can stop Mother Nature.

"The state I think is trying to protect the beaches to be open for all of us. I don't think letting more and more naupaka grow along the sand is going to keep the water from doing what it naturally will," said Beach-Goer Sandy Perez.

Whether or not this plant can prevent further erosion, one thing is certain. This beach has not been able to weather the changes of our climate.

Stanton Johnston says he spoke with one of his neighbors who had to pay more than 6-thousand dollars to have the naupaka in front of the property removed and hauled away.