Bill would set Kauai homes farther back from ocean
LIHUE » Kauai's mayor and County Council are looking into ways to keep houses along the island's shoreline from creeping too close to the ocean.
While Mayor Bryan Baptiste is waiting for a coastal erosion study to be completed by 2008, the council has proposed a new bill in the interim to push the setbacks along Kauai shores away from the ocean.
The council's bill, which is before the Kauai Planning Commission, would create setbacks of 40, 60 and 80 feet along shorelines, depending on the size of the parcel. Current setbacks of 20 to 40 feet are required by zoning laws and date back to 1970.
The next public hearing on the bill is scheduled for Jan. 8.
While the mayor said he worries that the interim bill may make it tough to change the setbacks once the study is in, he understands "many people feel (the council) needs to do something today."
At issue is how far an oceanfront home should be set back from the beach. A homeowner must first get certification from the state on where exactly the shoreline is. Then the county planning commission decides, depending on the size of the parcel, how big the setback should be.
However, in some areas on Kauai's north shore, state shoreline certifications using vegetation lines and small setbacks have left some foundations lapped by ocean water when large winter swells arrive.
The three-year study by the University of Hawaii Coastal Geology Group will show where erosion is occurring along the Garden Isle, Baptiste said.
The administration plans to use the study to determine how much beach is being lost, and where houses can be safely built.
Dr. Charles Fletcher, UH professor and the principal investigator in the study, said historical photos will be compared with beach profiles, short-term rates of change and other information to determine the amount of erosion taking place over time.