DLNR: North Shore homeowner used concrete, rebar to shore up his beachfront property

The homeowner could face a $15,000 fine.
Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 10:26 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 5, 2022 at 4:59 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a particularly flagrant rebuff of Hawaii conservation laws, a North Shore homeowner faces fines of $15,000 a day after state officials say he used concrete and rebar to fill in the exposed foundation of his beachfront home and harden a stretch of sand with an apparent glue.

The work has triggered outrage, with residents and lawmakers arguing the modifications pose safety risks.

The state Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands issued a notice of violation Friday to the owner of a home on Ke Nui Road in Sunset Beach. They said a site inspection found the foundation of the property, which was previously undermined by erosion, secured with rebar and cement.

The state is giving the homeowner 30 days to remove the concrete or face mounting fines.

State Sen. Gil Riviere, who represents the area, called the work outrageous.

“To say that he should be allowed to armor it and build it and defend it at all costs, I think that is a terrible position to be in,” he said. “And I think he is making it very difficult for the people trying to do the right thing.”

The owner of the home ― identified as Joshua VanEmmerik ― is hardly the first to take matters into his own hands to try to protect his home from worsening erosion on the North Shore as sea levels rise.

Last month, DLNR said 20 homes along the stretch had illegal erosion control measures.


But the scale of the modifications in this case are particularly significant ― and potentially dangerous.

“If someone gets caught in the water with those sharp pieces of cement and the rebar thing, (they) could get very seriously hurt,” said UH-Manoa School of Earth Science and Technology Interim Dean Chip Fletcher.

“Not to mention the beachgoers that are walking back and forth.”

He added that he’s doubtful the fortifications will last once winter swells arrive.

Pomai Hoopili, of the North Shore, said it’s becoming commonplace to find debris in the water.

“I find everything from rebar to fencing metal to fence posts to pilings for houses, broken concrete slabs, rebar sticking out rocks,” Hoopili said. “Nuts and bolts lagged into them, cables, ropes, nets, all kinds of things.”

The city is considering a bill to require future homes to be built farther from the shoreline, but there are no easy options for current residents along Oahu’s North Shore.

Hawaii News Now reached out to the homeowner for comment and are waiting to hear back.