Hawai'i Sea Wall Regulations Unconstitutional
Dear Editor, November 23, 2020
Hawaii's regulations regarding sea walls is not just controversial it infringes on property ownership rights that are protected in the Country's Constitution.
In a Federal Supreme Court unanimous ruling, 2005 Lingle v. Chevron case, the Supreme Court took the occasion to deliver a tutorial on takings jurisprudence, both regulatory and physical. In particular, the Court reiterated a standard applicable to land development regulations, whether at the state or county level, based on previous holdings.
'If a regulation only partially deprives a landowner of economically beneficial use, then the court must examine the character of the governmental regulation and its economic effect on the landowner, and in particular whether the law frustrates the distinct or reasonable investment-backed expectations of the regulated landowner.'
Clearly the law cannot pass the burden of land loss by erosion to be suffered entirely by the property owner. There are other remedies to beach erosion. Artificial offshore reefs also protect beaches. While that would cost the public money and result in its own environmental effects it would result in an effect that everyone bears the cost of the erosion in a more even handed way.
Related: Oceanfront Property Tied to Obama Granted Exemption From Hawaii’s Environmental Laws