Facing Our Future: Adaptive Planning for Sea Level Rise in Maui and Hawaii Counties

A partnership was established between the County of Maui, County of Hawaii, and the University of Hawaii Sea Grant Program to prepare this coastal adaptation planning report. Recommendations are outlined which are intended to provide a foundation for improving shoreline planning for coastal hazards at the local level, focusing on sea level rise. The recommendations were developed by coastal planners from the Counties of Maui and Hawaii, and are specific to issues that can be addressed within the context of the existing County regulatory frameworks. Work was concentrated on analyzing local rules for regulating activities and development in the shoreline area, and then making recommendations to refine or improve those rules. 

85% of Maui beaches are exhibiting erosion and 11% are lost completely, while Maui’s erosion rates are highest compared to the islands of Oahu and Kauai, and linked to higher rates of local sea level rise. On the island of Hawaii, bluff failure has become a common hazard in addition to flooding of low elevation areas where local rates of sea level rise are highest in the state. Many studies suggest that the impacts of these coastal hazards will be exacerbated by sea level rise.

The final recommendations in this report are designed as stand alone documents that could each be considered individually for action by County decision-makers. The recommendations have been sequenced, from a planning perspective, based ideally on the way shoreline developments and activities would be reviewed and processed.

The final recommendations are categorized by steps:

1. Encourage Setback Determination in Early Planning Stages
2. Strengthen the Shoreline Setback Policy
3. Clarify the Purpose and Applicability of Shoreline Rules
4. Refine Criteria for Minor Structures and Activities
5. Review Permitting Process for Emergency Repairs to Seawalls


Publication Date: July 2012

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • Tara M. Owens
  • Dennis Hwang
  • Andrew Bohlander
  • Anna Benesovska
  • James Buika
  • Bethany Morrison

Related Organizations:


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Adaptation plan

States Affected:


Go To Resource