This 1.4-mile stretch of coastline has become completely inaccessible to the public. Government officials have granted more than 230 environmental exemptions to owners of homes, hotels and condos, according to records compiled by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and ProPublica. Those exemptions have allowed property owners to keep old seawalls in place, build new ones and install mounds of emergency sandbags along the beaches.
This story is co-published with ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.
Hawaii’s beaches are disappearing as major islands have lost nearly a quarter of them in the last century. The culprit? Seawalls and other barriers erected by wealthy homeowners.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and ProPublica have developed an interactive, web-based app that compiles 20 years of shoreline exemptions in a searchable map of properties that got permits to keep existing shoreline structures or build new ones.
Sophie Cocke is a reporter with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. She has covered government and politics in Hawaii for the past decade. Please get in touch at email@example.com if you have information you want to share about seawalls or other shoreline hardening structures.
Ash Ngu is a journalist, designer and developer with ProPublica’s news apps team.