Shoreline Impacts, Setback Policy and Sea Level Rise - Hawaii

Published by the Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy (ICAP) at the University of Hawaii's Sea Grant program, this project analyzed legislation proposed to change Hawaii's coastal setback laws. ICAP prepared this whitepaper at the request of then Senator Shan Tsutsui, whose office sought a technical evaluation of Senate Bill 468 (relating to shoreline setbacks). ICAP finds that SB 468 as originally introduced would have a beneficial net impact on coastal resiliency for the State of Hawai‘i.

After providing an examination of the bill, the report goes on to identify areas for future research on coastal adaptation and identifies basic adaptation policies that can be implemented in Hawaii. With respect to the state's setback legislation, the authors recommend removing the forty foot cap imposed on coastal setbacks and using average rates of erosion and a structure's expected life to establish setbacks. The report also examines the governance structure for coastal management created by federal laws, Hawaii's shoreline laws, and subdivision planning ordinances.

The research needs the report identifies relate to the development of more refined predictions of sea-level rise and erosion rates, as well as the assessment of adaptation options for the state of Hawaii and its local governments. In conclusion, the authors make several recommendations, including using planning processes, developing hazard mitigation plans, gathering scientific information, and creating adaptation guidance documents.

Publication Date: April 2009

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • Dennis Hwang
  • Maxine Burkett

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  • Legal Analysis

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