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West Maui Ocean Users Sue Land Board Over Kahana Bay Seawall Approval

A 400 foot seawall proposed for construction at Kahana Bay in West Maui has sparked a lawsuit.

Nā Papa‘i Wawae ‘Ula‘ula, West Maui Preservation and Native Hawaiian fisherman and elder Felimon Sadang filed the suit in the Maui Environmental Court seeking to reverse the Board of Land and Natural Resources’ summary denial of their request for a contested case over the seawall.

The groups request for contested case was before the Land Board meeting last month.

Seawall opponents say the wall would have negative impacts:

Felimon Sadang, whose family has lived at Kahana’s shoreline for generations, says he has seen the coast erode over the years.

The Sadangs say they have moved their house several times and lost pig pens and chicken coops to coastal erosion.

Nā Papa‘i members and West Maui residents Glen Kamaka, Kai Nishiki, and Tamara Paltin, and community organizer Tiare Lawrence flew to Honolulu to testify on the impacts of building such an enormous seawall at Kahana Bay.

Dr. Mark Deakos of the Hawai’i Association for Marine Education and Research testified that hardened shorelines have caused flanking erosion along West Maui shorelines and installation of a larger, permanent structure at Hololani could exacerbate impacts to coastal ecosystems. Dr. Deakos further questioned Hololani’s claim that the seawall would prevent a “clay” bank from eroding into ocean because both USGS data and Hololani’s own soil studies showed that the Hololani building sits atop a large sand dune.

Kai Nishiki, coordinating member of Nā Papa‘i, questioned why the BLNR would approve a permanent seawall while Maui County’s permit only allowed for a temporary seawall until the County completed its regional beach nourishment project for Kahana Bay.

Nishiki testified that, “Kahana has been our place to go fish, dive, collect limu, swim, surf and enjoy time with our ‘ohana. The science is clear: a huge 400 foot long seawall will destroy what we love about this place.”

Lawrence expressed concern that construction of Hololani’s seawall would start a domino effect as other shoreline owners would need to convert sandbag revetments into permanent seawalls.
“Participating in the process sometimes works,” WMPA Board member Tamara Paltin stated, “but we need the Land Board to allow that process to be available for community concerns.”

Nā Papa‘i Wawae ‘Ula‘ula is a hui of concerned West Maui residents dedicated to protecting and enhancing shoreline access for the public and Hawaiian cultural practices. West Maui Preservation Association is a long time environmental organization in West Maui.

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