Kaua’i Shoreline Setback Ordinance (No. 979, Bill 2461, 2014)

The County of Kaua'i, Hawaii passed a Shoreline Setback Ordinance (effective December 5, 2014) that strengthens the county's shoreline setback requirements. The purpose of the updated bill is to "protect life and property, ensure the longevity and integrity of Kauai’s coastal and beach resources and strengthen current shoreline setback requirements by incorporating science-based erosion rates established in the Kauai Coastal Erosion Study, and current coastal hazard mitigation best practices and strategies."

The County of Kaua'i Planning Department is enforcing the Ordinance, which is applicable to all lands within the County of Kaua'i that are: abutting the shoreline, or not abutting the shoreline but located within 500 feet of the shoreline (unless the applicant can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Planning Director that the applicant’s proposed improvement will not be affected by coastal erosion or hazards, excluding natural catastrophes).

The Kaua’i Shoreline Setback Bill in 2008 created one of the most aggressive shoreline building setback laws in the country. The Kaua'i County setback then, and as in the updated 2014 Ordinance, is based on the average annual erosion rate and a planning period of 70 to 100 years, plus a buffer of 40 feet. The distance (in feet) of the shoreline setback line, as measured from the certified shoreline, is based on the building footprint and a coastal erosion study as follows: 

  • Minimum Shoreline Setback Requirements are established in which no lot shall have a shoreline setback line of less than 40 feet.
  • For structures with a building footprint that is less than or equal to 5,000 square feet, the setback distance is 40 feet plus 70 times the annual coastal erosion rate.
  • For structures greater than 5,000 square feet, the setback distance is 40 feet plus 100 times the annual coastal erosion rate. 

The bill protects coastal dunes as well: “Any primary coastal dune, which lies wholly or partially in the setback area, shall not be altered, graded, or filled in any way except for the addition of sand of compatible quality and character unless the application of this section renders the build-out of allowable density unfeasible.”


Publication Date: December 5, 2014

Related Organizations:

  • County Council of Kaua'i

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  • Laws

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