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Proposal to save Maui properties from falling into the ocean gets community pushback

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 7:21 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A proposal to save almost a dozen properties from falling into the ocean in west Maui is getting pushback from the community.

Layers of sand bags are now helping to stabilize several structures along the coastline in Kahana.

The Kahana Draft Environmental Impact Statement says nine condominiums and one single-family parcel are at risk of crumbling into the ocean because of severe coastal erosion from sea level rise, storms and shoreline development.

The plan is to use sand transported from offshore. Seven rock T-groins and one rock headland structure will also be constructed to stabilize the beach.

But, local residents who fish and surf in the area question the long-term effects on the ocean.

“It seems like the local community always has to sacrifice our way of life or our livelihoods, so that the condos and the hotels can get what they need,” said west Maui resident and fisherman Kekai Keahi.

In the Draft EIS, Oceanit says the project will actually be beneficial to the ecosystem. They cited the groin structures at Iroquois Point on Oahu and said fish abundance near the groins increased 25 times compared to that prior to construction.

But, Keahi isn’t convinced.

“It’s not going to be fishing grounds anymore, or surfing grounds, probably be grounds for sunbathing,” Keahi said.

Lifelong west Maui resident, Junya Nakoa, says the plan is a temporary fix and encourages the state to find a long-term solution.

“These buggahs shouldn’t have been here to begin with, this close to the beach. So now, they’re getting the repercussion,” said Nakoa. “Move ‘em back.”

The idea of backing away from the shoreline isn’t too far-fetched. It’s the state’s plan idea for parts of Honoapiilani Highway in west Maui as well.

Public comments on the Kahana Draft EIS are being accepted through June 7.

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