comscore Kokua Line: Grandpa can’t take sand from beach to buffer kids’ falls from backyard swing set | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: Grandpa can’t take sand from beach to buffer kids’ falls from backyard swing set

Question: Are homeowners allowed to take sand from the beach to use for home projects? I don’t know where to go for this information. My wife and I are grandparents of 14 grandchildren and we have erected a swing set in our backyard and are concerned about possible injuries if one should fall on the grass. The instructions with the swing set recommend laying a foundation of wood chips or sand 9 inches deep in a 20 feet by 30 feet area. Both materials are beyond our reach if we were to purchase bags at our local home improvement store. I had heard many years ago that homeowners could take sand from the beach for such uses. Is this true?

Answer: No, it’s not true. State law was amended years ago to outlaw the taking of Hawaii beach sand for such purposes, but even before that taking the large amount you need generally wouldn’t have been allowed. There may have been special dredging projects that created piles of the sand for the taking, but they would have been an exception, not the rule, and we don’t know of any currently.

Before 2013, people used to be able to take a gallon of sand per day for “reasonable, personal, non-commercial use,” but state law was amended that year to tighten the restriction, to try to protect Hawaii’s eroding beaches from being further diminished. Now, Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 171-58.5 prohibits “the mining or taking of sand, dead coral or coral rubble, rocks, soil or other marine deposits seaward from the shoreline.” There are limited exceptions, such as for approved projects to replenish a beach, respond to a natural disaster or clear a canal, as well as for permitted cultural practices.

The “inadvertent taking” of sand doesn’t count as an infraction, such as when sand toys aren’t cleaned off after a beach outing. But the intentional taking of sand for unpermitted personal use would be an infraction, even in small amounts.

We plugged the dimensions you provided into the yardage calculator on Hawaiian Earth Recycling’s website,, and found that you need nearly 17 cubic yards of sand. That amount would cost you about $1,700 before tax, based on the price listed for white sand on the website; besides confirming the price, you’d also need to ensure that the product is suitable for your purposes. You might also check with Oahu landscaping companies and home- and garden-supply stores to see what they have available and whether you can get a discount for buying in bulk.

Q: What is the number for the new unemployment call center? Will they answer PUA questions?

A: The toll-free phone numbers to the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ expanded call center are 833-901-2272 and 833-901-2275. Yes, people with Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims may call for customer serv­ice by phone; previously they could seek assistance only by filing a help ticket online.

Callers will be greeted by a recorded greeting; PUA claimants should press 3 at the prompt.

People on standard state Unemployment Insurance also may call those numbers, which will operate from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, except state holidays. People with questions about an existing UI claim should press 1 after hearing the recorded greeting, while those calling about a new claim would press 2.

Common questions also are answered on the DLIR’s website, at

Meanwhile, we continue to hear from people about fraudulent claims being filed in their names. Those should be reported to the DLIR by calling 586-8947, or by following the directions for reporting fraud on a letter received from the department. We’ve alerted the department that the voice mail to that number is frequently full.

Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email

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