Windward Oahu homeowner chops down shoreline trees, prompting erosion fears

Updated: Oct. 30, 2020 at 10:17 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Conflict is brewing on Oahu’s Windward Coast after a homeowner illegally chopped down multiple trees along the shoreline in Kaaawa, creating concerns among residents about erosion.

“This things goes out but underneath it comes in so if something really heavy goes on there or whatever the thing can fall right through and the kids all come walking over here and fish,” said Kaaawa resident Gay Porter.

Porter’s great grandmother purchased land in Kaaawa in 1889. She says the area is already prone to erosion.

The state Department of Transportation confirms the tree chopping at the 5100 block of Kamehameha Highway on Thursday was unpermitted and they are investigating.

Google Maps shows what the area looked like before. Now it is a bunch of stumps.

Hawaii News Now tried to talk to the homeowner about the trimming but were not allowed onto the property.

His neighbors said he told them he wanted a better view of the ocean.

“I don’t know who he is, I don’t care and I don’t want any trouble, but I don’t appreciate this,” Porter said.

Earlier this year, the state had to fix the crumbling coast after the ocean wore out the sand under the road.

Just a month before that, in Hauula, the state spent more than $600,000 to make similar repairs to Kamehameha highway.

The fine for the damage in Kaaawa? DOT says it’s $250.

Porter said the penalty is little more than a slap on the wrist and argue it will ultimately be their money that gets used to make any repairs.

“That’s ridiculous because what’s to stop him? If he can buy a million dollar house,” Porter said.

“It’s the public who’s going to have to foot the bill to repair the area if it’s undermine or if it’s caving in, we the taxpayers will have to pay,” said environment watchdog Carroll Cox.

Cox said he is also looking into if the area is a Native Hawaiian burial ground.

“They had concerns that this is a preservation area and there were iwi, concerns for iwi, and that the activity would have been disturbing and destroy the iwi,” Cox said.

Cox and Porter want more oversight and stricter penalties.

“Just because you did it doesn’t make it right,” Cox said.

“Morally, don’t you want to take care of our land? And don’t you want to make sure people are safe when you walk over here. That’s just the moral aspect of it,” said Porter.

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