A popular beach fronting a resort is now gone. This Maui community is debating what to do next

Restoring the beach would mean tearing down a building.
Published: Jul. 12, 2023 at 8:10 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 13, 2023 at 5:43 AM HST
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KAHANA (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Maui condominium board wants to strengthen the foundation of a building being threatened by erosion.

However, opponents of the plan say the only real solution is moving the building away from the ocean.

“They should invest money in the removal of this building,” said shoreline advocate Kai Nishiki. “Then it removes the threat to public health and safety, and it restores public access to the beach.”

The public beach access near Kahana Sunset in West Maui leads straight into the ocean.

“This is our shoreline access to nowhere,” Nishiki said.

Nishiki demonstrated how the public could access the beach by jumping into the water.

“I now have to swim this way, or that way, to get to the beach,” she said.

Nishiki said swimming to the sand could be dangerous, referencing the waves crashing into the stairwell.

“If this building wasn’t here, this would be a beach.”

It wasn’t always this way — Decades ago, there were a lot of sand fronting Kahana Sunset.

President of the Board of Directors says the resort was built back in the 1970s.

“We can all look back and fault those people for whatever. But from their point of view, it was a safe distance away. The erosion on Maui has been amazing,” said Eric “Rick” Roberts.

No one lives in Building F now because the condo’s engineers deemed it was not safe. To make it livable again, Kahana Sunset wants to stabilize the foundation.

“One guy told me just wanted to go stay there one more time,” Roberts said fighting back tears.

However, Nishiki says it’s a band-aid fix and is appealing the process.

She added Kahana Sunset should demolish and rebuild the building father away from the ocean.

Roberts says they support managed retreat, but it would take tens of millions of dollars they would have to come up with.

“We’re not asking for money from anybody. We’re going to pay for everything out of our own pocket,” he said. “The manage retreat plan is gonna be is like $65,000 to $70,000, and we’re paying for that out of our own pocket.”

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