It’s been about four years since the city closed a beach access in Mokuleia after the owner of oceanfront properties on either side of the walkway illegally unloaded boulders and cement along the shore in an attempt to stave off the rising sea level.

Beachgoers must now walk along Farrington Highway for a mile toward Haleiwa or a half-mile toward Kaena Point to the nearest public access to the ocean.

“My children grew up going up and down that beach right of way,” said Bill Nations, who still lives nearby.

The owner of properties on both sides of a public beach access on Hoomana Place in Mokuleia built a rock wall along the beach in front of his property, cutting off the access. Courtesy of Kelly LaPorte

Nations joined other Mokuleia residents and state Sen. Gil Riviere, who represents the North Shore, to voice frustration at a city Department of Planning and Permitting meeting Friday. 

The property owner, Grand View Apartments, built the revetment in 2014 without required permits and is now applying for them after the fact.

The planning department has 45 days to make recommendations to the Honolulu City Council, which will ultimately vote on the request. The state has already fined Grand View more than $30,000 for construction in a conservation area.

The city’s Department of Parks and Recreation closed the beach access after the rock wall was built without permits. Courtesy of Kelly LaPorte

Granting the permits won’t reopen the public walkway – the Department of Parks and Recreation is responsible for closing and opening the beach access – but residents who testified Friday feel the city should not grant Grand View Apartments permits until the walkway is reopened.

Nathan Serota, a parks department spokesman, did not comment on the issue Friday afternoon.  

A fence erected across the entrance to the sandy path leading to the boulder-laden shoreline reads, “KEEP OUT.”

“For decades if not for centuries people have gone to Hoomanu Beach at Mokuleia at all times of the day or night, fisherman, visitors, residents,” Kelly Lapour, who owns a house across the street from the beach access, said at the meeting. “All the lucky owners here who own oceanfront property got a beautiful thing here: a private beach. That’s not the law.”

In the fall of 2013, North Shore waves began pummeling the Mokuleia shoreline. When a storm hit in November the ocean sucked sand from the public beach access, creating sinkholes in the adjoining properties.

“Almost all of the backyard disappeared,” Peter Young, a former state Department of Land and Natural Resources chief who is representing the property owner, told Civil Beat.

A seawall protecting one of the homes was near to collapsing, hanging at a 45-degree angle, Young said. 

The property owner contacted the city and state for help, but both said it was not their jurisdiction, according to an environmental assessment prepared by the owner.

Then the owner called DPP, “who informed him that the issue was not within their jurisdiction, but that he should ‘do what (he’s) got to do,’” the assessment said. “Faced with the destruction and loss of the respective properties and homes and with nowhere to turn, (the owner of the) Grand View was forced to take matters into his own hands.”

Many beachfront homes on the Mokuleia shoreline have seawalls. In the last nine years seven property owners built seawalls before obtaining permits, according to the city planning department.

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