Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sheraton's Shoddy Shoreline Sham

Beach access advocate Mark Dougherty sent these photos of the walkway in front of the Sheraton Waikiki, which clearly shows how vegetation from the resort property makes it even more narrow than it already is. He says the Sheraton is basically ignoring their responsibility to maintain the walkway because they'd rather dissuade the general public from passing in front of their property than improve access. He's probably right.

Mark writes:
" Improved shoreline access across Hawaii received a boost in 2010 when Act 160 (HRS 115-5) was passed. Unfortunately the prescription for 6-feet wide 'beach transit corridors' is not applicable in some places. This coast fronting the Sheraton Waikiki -- one of the more prominent shorelines in Hawaii -- must make due with a 4-foot walkway. The walkway, an easement that dates back years before Sheraton was built in 1971, was considered for expansion during the Sheraton renovation, completed around 2011. But no action was taken. Hawaii's coastal planners apparently regard this access way as sufficient for all pedestrian traffic between main Waikiki Beach and Ft. DeRussy. With the constraining naupaka hedge and railing, the public has only 3 ½ feet to pass."
I asked him what he would like to see happen in regards to the situation. Here's his response:
 " Re your question, I would like to see walkway widened or naupaka removed. But I doubt the hotel will do that now. The time to do that was during the renovation, at coastal planners' prompting. (Several months ago I communicated with Bob Kelly, Sheraton GM. He said the walkway is just fine.) At this point, it would probably take a land acquisition. That would be a big deal. And the related issue is Gray's Beach restoration is still pending. There is a lot going on here....
   I am interested in a public airing of this issue. Attention is warranted by both media and community organizations. Here are my 3 key topics:
   1) The Sheraton walkway situation helps erode respect for the 6-feet-wide standard of HRS 115-5. If coastal planners deem a 3 ½ feet width is good enough for the busy Waikiki shore, that sends a poor message.
   2) There is highly credible information that not only that some hotels seek to limit pedestrian traffic along the Waikiki shore, but that top coastal planners are tacitly agreeing to go along with this scheme. This is bad policy and should be investigated. Of course planners will deny this, but a close look at at the Sheraton situation is warranted.
   3) A new law is needed to require upgrading of substandard easements fronting resort properties when those properties engage in major coastal renovations. HRS 115-5's 6-feet standard should be the new code, at least. Sheraton built a new pool within 10 feet of the water's edge. Apparently there is no policy basis to conduct such an easement review during major coastal modifications.
   What happened at the Sheraton is important; it provides the basis to debate new legislation that would prevent this situation from happening again.
Although Mark has tried contacting government officials and people in organizations such as Surfrider and KAHEA, so far no one seems to want to make waves over the issue. If you'd like to help Mark in this cause, please contact him via email at

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