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This sand is your sand

The idea that people here should have access to the shoreline dates back to the Kingdom of Hawaii days, and has survived state Supreme Court challenges to be considered sacrosanct today.

It looks like that’s something we take for granted too often. Witness what’s happening in New Jersey. Garden State advocates are losing ground, watching hard-won regulations protecting beach access erode like sand castles at high tide. Its Department of Environmental Protection is letting each town decide beach access rules for itself.

The Western concept public-access law has its own royal heritage: Rome’s Emperor Justinian also thought the common folk should get to swim in coastal waters and walk upon their shores. But it seems that the money of New Jersey’s oceanfront homeowners may now be king.

Lucky we live Hawaii. And our beaches are nicer, too.


No autonomy without permission

American Samoa has launched its first constitutional convention in 26 years with an eye toward loosening U.S. oversight of the Pacific territory.

Among the proposals to change fundamental laws governing the islands are ones that would strip the U.S. interior secretary of authority to override gubernatorial vetoes, appoint the territory’s chief justice and intervene in high court decisions. More than 100 delegates will debate the proposals during the two-week convention; any constitutional changes would be put to a public vote in November and ultimately require approval by the U.S. Congress.


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