Saturday, December 22, 2012

Oahu Beach Access Map Online

Merry Christmas! Just got a Google alert that linked to an article in Hawaii Magazine about a new online map of Oahu's public beach rights of way...

New map locates scores of public access points for Oahu beaches, shorelines

Hawaii_Oahu_beach_accessWhile signs for Waikiki and other iconic Oahu beach areas can be hard to miss, there are scores of shoreline public access points around the island that can be a bit tricky to find.

A new easy-to-use map-based website pinpoints public access spots to Oahu beach areas. Click here to check out the map, which also provides information about the shoreline type (sandy, rocky, or cliff, for example) and access surface area (grass, sand, dirt, etc.).

The State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Office of Planning have worked collaboratively with the City and County of Honolulu and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Fisheries to review and update information defining Oahu’s public access.

In a news release issued this week, Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle said: “This comprehensive list and map of public shoreline access points are valuable resources for local fishermen, residents, and visitors.” He added, “This is an excellent example of multiple government agencies working together to develop easily accessible information that benefits all.”

The city Department of Planning and Permitting along with the state Office of Planning will coordinate with other relevant agencies to keep the information up-to-date.

For more information about public access to beaches throughout Hawaii, click here. And for ocean safety information, click here.

Note: I checked out the Sea Grant link for more info about beach access, and it does not tell you that the county "policies" are NOT enforceable laws... they are merely guidelines, according to the County of Honolulu's attorneys. Otherwise, there would be public BROWs at least every quarter mile in "urban" areas and every half mile in "rural" areas -- and that is still clearly not the case.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Big Island Access Battle

I'm not personally familiar with all the details of the Papaikou Mill Beach access debate on the Big Island, but it boils down to this: should the County exercise its power of eminent domain or is there a less invasive way to resolve the situation?

I dislike using government to "take" private land, even if it's for the public good, because it creates ill will between the haves and have-nots and turns a question of beach access into allegations of class warfare.Yet if there were incentives for the private land owner to grant an easement -- say, a residential tax break -- perhaps the owners could find it in their hearts to allow the public to use that path within certain hours. I could be wrong, but it doesn't sound like the path is close to the owners' residence. Anyone out there know?

Here's the link to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald article and some excerpts from the story that ran last week:

Papaikou trail owners propose alternate route to beach

By TOM CALLIS, Tribune-Herald staff writer

The owners of the only trail to Papaikou Mill Beach have made an offer that may be hard for Hawaii County to refuse. Jim Waugh and Charlene Prickett told the County Council on Wednesday during a tour of their property that they’d build a new trail for the public themselves, expenses included, to prevent the taking of the current route through eminent domain.
The only problem: it would relocate the trailhead to private land they don’t own. And their neighbor isn’t too happy about it. “This is brand new to me that we’re offering our road,” said Steve Shropshire, who owns the land and road that would provide the starting point for a new trail, during the tour. “A phone call would have been nice.”
Charlene Prickett responded by telling him that the proposal would require their support.
Shropshire told the Tribune-Herald he isn’t inclined to offer his property, which he would like to redevelop as an “agricultural village,” adding he believes the current trail should remain in use. “I support the current resolution,” he said, referring the proposed eminent domain action, “as it is currently written.”
Still, Shropshire said any future development of the property, now used for agriculture, would include public beach access. Asked why he would oppose access through the land now, he said he doesn’t want to make any changes to the property before the area’s community development plan is finished.
The county is considering purchasing the existing trail and a private road through eminent domain in order to settle dispute over access between beachgoers, frustrated with some restrictions, and the owners...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Oahu Beach Access Online... Sort of

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser "Kokua Line" column reported this item regarding Beach Rights of Way (BROWs) on Aug.20:

The city Department of Parks and Recreation has posted an updated list of its BROWS -- beach rights of ways -- on its website,
However, the list of 87 sites, which are tied to the city's beach access areas where Emergency Response Locator signs are posted,  give only a general location. For example, 134-C (Kahala Avenue at Elepaio Street) and 87-B (Kaimalino Street). In many cases there is no designated street address for the rights of way.
Another four locations recently identified as rights of way are awaiting signs.
Among them is "Ko Olina Lagoon and Roadway Easement," which a parks official said has been confirmed with the city Department of Land Utilization as a designated easement area going back to 1995. But the exact locations there -- one or more -- still have to be identified. Once that happens, signs will be made and posted, the official said.
Public access to the manmade lagoons at Ko Olina has been a sore point within the community for years (see It's not yet clear what the newly identified public rights of way there mean.
Once all 91 locations have been identified by the Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division and signs made and posted by the parks department, they will be linked to locator maps. At that point the online list will be updated, allowing people to click on maps to see the exact location. There's no target date for when that will happen.

So I click on the website link and scrolled down to the Frequently Asked Questions section: Where can I find the City and County of Honolulu Beach Rights-of-way?

The problem though is if you click on that you will get a downloadable file (Excel spreadsheet) instead of any kind of useful map as noted above. Sigh. Really, is it that difficult for someone in the City Dept. of Parks and Recreation to transpose the information to a map? What is taking them so long to do this simple project?


Monday, July 9, 2012

Honolulu Weekly Coverage

A couple of weeks ago, I spent about an hour on the phone with Kauai writer Joan Conrow, who was working on an article about beach access problems in Hawaii. Her cover story for the Honolulu Weekly just came out, and does a very good job of presenting some of the issues. But it's impossible to discuss in detail just how complicated and difficult it is to get any real change in our laws in one magazine article. You'd need a book to do that.

That's because beach access involves state, county and even federal agencies that each oversee certain aspects of shoreline management -- while no single body has authority to make and enforce comprehensive policies to protect the public's interest.

It's all done piecemeal in typical bureaucratic crisis-management style: stuff only gets done after a major catastrophe occurs or a big lawsuit gets settled.

Anyhow, the article is worth reading in its entirety. Here's the link:

Speaking of beach vegetation, below is a photo of Kailua Beach where naupaka has spread over hundreds and hundreds of yards. In some cases, the property owners have been watering the naupaka so that they can extend their property boundaries and keep people away from their homes. I find it ironic and funny that they claim one reason they have locked gates on their beach side lanes is they want "privacy".... and then they install gigantic picture windows that allow anyone on the beach to look into their ostentatious mansions!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Updates on Oahu Access Issues

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser ran a "Kokua Line" column today that answered questions about trash cans disappearing from Lanikai beach access paths, and the city's plan to post an online reference source for Oahu beach rights of way. (For Mainland readers, "kokua" is the Hawaiian word for help.)

On the former, turns out the city discovered it had been collecting garbage on "private" easements and decided to discontinue that service. Sheesh. Talk about dumb, shortsighted policies. By taking away the trash cans, the city is giving people an excuse to drop garbage and litter on those beach paths rather than carrying it to another public access trash can. That in turn will cause residents who live next to the private easements to say they want to put up gates on those paths that are currently open to the public because they're sick of picking up garbage!

Furthermore, the city already picks up residential trash on PRIVATE beachside lanes, so why can't they continue to provide that service on beach easements?

As for the online listing of public rights of way, the Department of Parks and Recreation says it has been delayed due to complications related to longitudes and latitudes in their database. Huh? What the heck are they doing? All we need is a simple map that shows where the public accesses are located! How difficult can that be? Instead, in typical government bureaucratic fashion, they make it a lot harder than it has to be.

Meanwhile, in the private sector, the same column says: "A book called "Oahu Beach Access -- A Guide to Oahu's Beaches Through the Public Rights of Way," was recently published. We'll find out about it from co-authors Katherine Garner and Carol Kettner and pass on the information in a future column."

No idea if there will be an online version. The authors had contacted me to request using "Beach Access Hawaii" as their book title, which was fine with me -- but I pointed out that they'd get more online search hits if they made it "Hawaii beach access" or "Oahu beach access" since that is the way most people would Google for info.

Here's the complete column from the Star-Advertiser:
Question: Why has the city stopped trash collection at Lanikai beach accesses? I was in Lanikai recently and wanted to throw away some trash and found a sign at the beach access at Haokea Drive and Mokulua Drive that stated the city would no longer maintain and pick up trash. There was no trash can and the sign said I would have to carry out any trash I had. I've lived in Kailua for almost 60 years and there have always been trash cans at these beach accesses.

Answer: It turns out that the city maintains only three of the beach rights of way in Lanikai and had inadvertently been placing trash cans on private access ways. The other rights of way, including at Haokea and Mokulua, are maintained by the Lanikai Community Association, said Miles Hazama, Windward Oahu district manager for the city Department of Parks and Recreation.

The inadvertent service was discovered late last year, after the department contracted a private company to maintain its rights of way. "At that time, we discovered that the city's trash receptacles were also placed at the Lanikai Association's private (rights of way)," Hazama said. "Since city resources cannot be used to maintain private property, we removed the city trash receptacles."

After that was done, he said the Lanikai Community Association placed signs at its access ways saying: "Please take all trash with you. No trash service at this beach access. City of Hono lulu will no longer pick up your trash from this area. Dumping trash at this location is a health hazard. Please keep our beaches clean. Mahalo."

Hazama said the city's rights of ways, identified by blue signs and yellow emergency numbers, continue to have trash cans.

Beach Rights of Way
We were told in February ( that the Department of Parks and Recreation would be posting a list of more than 80 public beach rights of way on its website. Turns out that was easier said than done.

"We're working on it diligently," a parks official told us this week. But, he could not yet give a date by which the list would be posted. The problem is a database that relies on latitudes and longitudes and general descriptions, which "is not user friendly at all."

"It's a work in process," the official said. "We're trying to come up with something that's user friendly and will provide people with the information that they are looking for in a helpful way. It's going to take us a little longer to put this thing together."

The list is tied to the city's beach rights of way where signs were posted to help direct emergency responders to people in distress. The plan is to post addresses, the identification numbers used by emergency responders, as well as general information.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Beach Erosion is Real

For the past two years, I've been writing in this blog about the need to establish better shoreline setback requirements on Oahu because there was evidence that wherever homes are allowed to be built closer to the ocean, erosion of beaches happens at a faster rate. This week studies were released that confirmed what I and others have been warning about.

However, it's not just sea walls and homeowners purposely growing plants like naupaka to grab more beach land that is causing our beaches to erode. Some of it can be linked to rising sea levels and climate change. Whatever the cause, it seems the best antidote is for our State and county government officials to establish stronger setback rule. There should be none of this nonsense about allowing current homeowners to rebuild CLOSER to the beach as is the case in Kailua at the moment. In the past two years, I've seen at least a half dozen houses that were demolished, then built from the ground floor up as close to the ocean as legally possible.

Here's links to stories that go into more detail about the study:

Honolulu Star-Advertiser article

KITV News Report

USGS Study

Monday, April 16, 2012

Reward for Graffiti Arrests

One of the excuses for putting up gates on "private" beach access paths is that locals and visitors will vandalize property if they are allowed on those streets... and unfortunately, those homeowners have a case when idiots -- mostly kids -- tag walls and fences with ugly graffiti. It ruins things for responsible neighbors who are respectful of others.

However, I'm sure there are people out there who know the identity of these taggers. I mean, that's the whole point of "tagging," isn't it? These morons have an infantile need to put their self-chosen name or crude logo on signs, walls, fences, whatever. Then they photograph their tags and crappy spray-painted messes, and post them on different photo sharing sites or YouTube. I'm not going to call what they do "art," because there is no real skill or evidence of talent evident in that kind of tagging.

I'm also willing to put my money where my mouth is. On the public beach access next to Kailuana Place in Kailua, taggers who go by "Slush" and "ET" left their mark on the neighbors' fences and walls. It appears Slush and ET could be young girls, judging from their writing "style" if you can call it that. If you live in Kailua and have kids, ask them if they know who is Slush or ET. Send me whatever info you have by email and if it leads to an arrest, I will send you a check from Beach Access Hawaii for $200. It's not much, but if we can stop these idiots from defacing more property, it will be a start.

Sorry for the long absence between posts. This has been another do-nothing State Legislative session as far as public beach access... or pretty much anything else for that matter. Under Hawaii's bicameral system, even bills that have popular support will get all the way to the end, only to be tabled because of lack of funding or lack of political will to change the status quo. About the only way you can change anything is by going to court and filing a lawsuit against the State or county. And so it goes...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Back from Australia...

During my two-week vacation trip to Australia, which I blogged about in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (click for link) and my Career Changers TV-related site, Squashed Gecko, I received two emails that show beach access is still a confusing problem in Hawaii.

The first email came from June Watanabe, the long-time Kokua Line columnist for the daily newspaper here:

Someone sent me a question about beach access, as follows: Is there a way to find a map or list of all the beach access sites on Oahu or at least the North Shore?  I recently was going to check out a fishing site I've been to a couple of years ago and found that the path I used before was blocked and had a sign that basically said that it was private property and not to trespass.  This path is in between two homes with fences on each side; so, I found it hard to believe that it was not a public beach access point especially since there weren't any access points due to all the homes on this street.

I've asked the city Department of Planning and Permitting if it has anything but haven't yet gotten a response. However, I recall someone saying a few years ago that there was no such map or information.

The answer is yes, there has to be a list because the city/county unveiled a 911 emergency locator sign system a couple of years ago that was linked to the 80-some public beach rights of way on Oahu. Each sign was posted near the access with an assigned number. I'm also sure the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources has a map of the public accesses as well.

However, June tried contacting both the county and state to get the official info from them... and all she got was a runaround. A month later, she's still waiting for answers. Welcome to the world of government bureaucracy and inefficiency! I've said repeatedly the main problem is the split jurisdiction of shoreline management between the state and the counties, which uses the high water mark (or vegetation line -- it's confusing) as the line of demarcation. So neither takes responsibility for providing info to the public on things like beach access.

I also suggested June contact NOAA because I knew they have been working on a project to survey and catalog the public shoreline access points throughout Oahu. Ostensibly, it was meant to be a tool for fishermen and boaters, I believe. But they soon realized that others could benefit from their project since no such map was readily available to the general public. June says NOAA is nearing completion and will let us know when that survey and map are posted online.

As to the reader's question about the path being between two homes with fences on both sides and no other access points on that street... well, THAT is the problem throughout the islands! What he encountered is hardly new or unusual. Usually, that strip is an easement on "private" property owned by an association or the people who are flanking that piece of land. It can even connect with a public street and still be considered "private" property.

The other email I received while I was Down Under came from Scott Werny, former co-chair of the Oahu Surfrider Foundation, who was instrumental in launching Beach Access Hawaii as well. He forwarded this message and asked if I could clarify the situation:

This morning my family and I were told to move from the area of the beach by a Turtle Bay employee.  He claimed it was "the law" and when asked if it was a public beach, he stated only to the water mark.  I escalated the issue to clarify where the water mark was & where the public beach began. So far the water line is vague.  It would seem logical that if Turtle Bay makes people move, they should clearly point to where the public area is.

Reviewing the Hawaii Supreme Court 2006 decision, it appears the vegetation line (more mauka) is preferred over competing debris line.  This point was not acknowledged, and a 2001 date was referred to by the security director.  2001 predates the 2006 decision, and would be void.

All I'm really trying to determine is where the public has a right to be without being hassled.  Would you know who I should contact?

Jeanne Roberts

First, it really sucks a Turtle Bay Resort employee would ask them to leave unless they were bothering someone. Not good PR. Technically, he was wrong anyway. It's not the visible water mark, as far as I know. It's based on the high water line I believe. Regardless, the bottom line is Hawaii's beaches are open to the public... however, he could have challenged them on access to that beach if they had to cross private property to reach it.

My advice to Jeanne and others in the North Shore area who encounter this kind of attitude at Turtle Bay is to tell others of their negative experiences at the resort, and spread negative publicity about the Turtle Bay Resort. Hurt them in the wallet and they might try to be a little nicer to local folks!