As reported by Joan Conrow on the HuffPost Hawaii site, the Hawaii Supreme Court "has ruled the state must consider historical evidence when determining the shoreline... The opinion also reiterates the high court's 2006 ruling that vegetation may not be planted to manipulate the shoreline, which becomes the starting line for a building setback."
In effect, the court is saying oceanfront home owners can't try to grab more beach land by planting stuff like naupaka on the edge of their property, which can grow out quickly and extend the de facto boundaries by quite a bit -- like these Kailua Beach properties...
Yep, it's like a sea of green in front of those homes! The court also said historical evidence of the "highest wash" must be considered in determining where the shoreline is. That's significant because the State was using a "single-year snapshot" method, which could be taken at a time when waves were low... and that would allow people to build closer to the ocean, even if history has shown those idiots were putting their property and themselves at risk.
You can read Joan's entire article by clicking here.
Meanwhile, the State Legislature has kicked off their 2014 session with the usual well-meaning announcements that they are going to do something about addressing global climate change and rising sea levels... yeah, right. Call me cynical, but it seems the most vocal advocates -- like Rep. Chris Lee -- don't grasp the reality of Hawaii's split jurisdiction handling of the shoreline. No matter what the State does in the way of studies or task forces, they have no power over shoreline setbacks or zoning restrictions because that is up to each individual county council as it stands right now.
Until they face the fact we need a joint State-Counties coastal commission that has authority to make rules and enforce them, all we will get are nice sound bites and photo opps while the naupaka keeps growing, beaches keep eroding and sea levels keep rising.