State of the Beach/State Reports/HI/Erosion Response

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Hawaii Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access87
Water Quality76
Beach Erosion9-
Erosion Response-6
Beach Fill5-
Shoreline Structures5 3
Beach Ecology4-
Surfing Areas108
Website6-


Introduction

Erosion response is a measure of how well a state's policies and procedures limit the extent of shoreline armoring, unsafe coastal development, and costly beach nourishment projects. Evaluation of this indicator brings attention to the states that are taking proactive roles in natural beach preservation and natural hazard avoidance. Through the formulation (if not already in place), implementation, and strict adherence of the specific criteria within the indicator, states can overcome two fundamental obstacles to alternative erosion response practices outlined by the Oceans Studies Board (2007):

  1. A lack of knowledge and experience among decision-makers regarding alternative options for shoreline erosion response, the relative level of erosion mitigation afforded by the alternative approaches and their expected life time, and the nature of the associated impacts and benefits.
  2. The current legal and regulatory framework itself, which discriminates against innovative solutions because of the complex and lengthy permitting process that almost always considers these options on a case-by-case basis.


For example, are statewide oceanfront construction setbacks used to site new development and are these based on the latest erosion rates? When existing development is damaged during a storm does a state prohibit reconstruction or provide incentives for relocation? Before permitting shoreline stabilization does a state require: that there is demonstrated need via geo-technical reports with content standards; that alternatives to armoring including managed retreat/relocation are fully explored; and that potential adverse impacts and cumulative effects are taken into account? If a state can answer 'yes' to most of these questions then its rank is high and if the answers are mostly 'no' then its rank is low.

Also see the "Policies" discussion of the Shoreline Structures section of this report for more information on Hawaii's erosion response.

Possible quantitative measures for this indicator include the number of new structures located within setback areas, number of damaged structures reconstructed in identified erosion zones, number of instances where alternatives to 'hard' shore protection were employed, the number of shoreline structures permitted under 'emergency' provisions, and the number of permits for shoreline structures reviewed, approved or denied. We have found that such information is rarely available.


Policies and Guidance

The 2006 Assessment reports:

The shoreline setback law (205A, HRS) establishing building restrictions and setbacks in coastal areas, continues to be applied by all four Counties in the State of Hawaii. The system has been periodically refined by new legislation, response to problems, and research and innovative applications. Such an innovation has been developed by the County of Maui where the required shoreline setback is now calculated on the basis of a present coastal erosion rate applied for 50 years. The overall Special Management Area (SMA) permit process has been recently evaluated under a 309 grant and recommendations are available for its refinement.

In 2003, the Hawaii State Legislature enacted, and the Governor signed into law, a landmark statute that keeps newly accreted land along the shoreline in public ownership in perpetuity and places it in a conservation district. Previously, a private owner abutting the shoreline could claim and acquire such accreted land.

As of December 30, 2005, the State of Hawaii and each of its four Counties have Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plans in place. The Hawaii CZM Program contributed to the production of these plans through provision of technical and/or financial assistance. These plans cover potential hazards arising from hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, volcanic action, erosion, droughts, and landslides.


Prepared for the State’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Hawai’i Coastal Hazard Mitigation Guidebook (Hwang, 2005) addresses sea level rise within its discussion of coastal erosion. Funded by the Hawai’i Coastal Program, the Guidebook’s proposed setback formula combines features from the FEMA Manual with additional adjustments for episodic storm erosion (and recovery) of the dune, errors associated with erosion rates, accelerated sea level rise, and a safety design buffer. The erosion zone is defined as the sum: [Life expectancy of the structure (70 to 100 years)] · [erosion rate (adjusted for errors and for sea level rise)] + [storm erosion event (20 ft)] + [Safety design buffers (20 ft)]. Although past sea level rise is factored into these long-term erosion measurements, predicted accelerated rise from global climate change remains to be included. The Guidebook partially addresses this issue, recommending that for coastlines with a sea level ranking risk of three or four (as determined in the Atlas of Natural Hazards in the Hawaii Coastal Zone (Fletcher et al., 2002) the historical erosion rate be increased by a value of 10 percent. This generalized default value is used to increase the setback where there is risk of accelerated sea level rise due to local topography and bathymetry.

The current State Coastal Zone Management Law stipulates shoreline setbacks to be “[no] less than 20 feet and not more than 40 feet inland from the shoreline” (HRS § 205A-43(a)). While this applies statewide, individual counties are given the option of extending the shoreline by establishing setbacks at distances greater than 40 feet (HRS § 205A-45). Realizing the 20-40 foot distance does not sufficiently protect the shore, all counties have, to some degree, extended their setbacks.

Structures or portions of a structure are not permitted in the shoreline setback area without a variance. Variances may be granted for specified structures or activities in an emergency or if the lot will be unbuildable with the setback. Shoreline setback variances for lesser setbacks may be created when the average lot depth of a parcel is one hundred feet or less or when the buildable area is reduced to less than 50% of the parcel after applying the forty foot shoreline setback line. Note: In the past the "shoreline" which defined the coastal setback was often placed at the seaward edge of the vegetation. This practice has stopped and instead the shoreline is located at the "upper reach of the wash of the waves" as per statute.

Hawaii is trying to develop a Comprehensive Coastal Policy. Ideally, such a policy would establish common goals among concerned agencies with regard to beach conservation. These goals should link and re-enforce planning and decision-making between federal, state, and county authorities, where the land meets the sea.

The County of Honolulu (island of Oahu) has a shoreline setback for construction of 40 feet. New subdivisions are generally required to be be able to accommodate a 60-foot shoreline setback.

Proposed Kyo-Ya hotel expansion

A case that represents serious potential backsliding from erosion response policies occurred in late 2010 when the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting approved a request by Kyo-Ya Hotels to build a 26-story hotel/condo tower on Waikiki Beach. The proposed structure would have violated existing zoning laws, tripled the height of the Moana’s current Diamond Head Tower and encroached onto the public beach. In January 2011 a coalition of environmental groups, including Surfrider Foundation, appealed the decision to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Although this appeal was denied, the environmental groups received a big win from the Hawaii Supreme Court on Sept. 23, 2015 when it struck down the zoning variance that would have violated the existing zoning and setback laws. The Supreme Court upheld the coastal preservation arguments of the environmental groups against the coastal setback variance requested by Kyo-Ya in 2010. More on this.

Historically Maui has proved one of the more proactive counties when it comes to coastal erosion and development. In November 2003, for example, Maui County set a precedent for shoreline protection among Hawaiian counties by being the first to adopt erosion rate-based construction setback rules. Utilizing the Average Annual Erosion Rate (“AAER”), the Maui Shoreline Setback Rules established a formula based on an annual erosion rate times a planning period of 50 years, plus a buffer of 25 feet. Also see here. Maui County also maintains the Maui Shoreline Atlas which provides links to erosion hazard maps depicting the average annual erosion rate of historical shoreline positions.

The new rules were passed despite vigorous and acrimonious protest by special interest groups. For more details contact Matt Niles at Maui Co. Planning Dept. (808) 257-7520.

The Adoption of erosion rate-based setbacks in Maui, Hawaii: Observations and Lessons Learned provides a history of the process and aftermath of adoption of the new shoreline setback law.

Where the shoreline is rocky or where it has been fixed by approved artificial structures, the erosion rate will not be used in setback calculation, and the 1989 setback rules will apply. There is a provision for a minimum buildable depth of 30 feet seaward of the front yard setback. A smoothing procedure is applied to the erosion rates for the purpose of setback calculation, to more closely approximate actual shoreline behavior.

Maui setback rules also incorporate the idea of managed retreat, where post & pier buildings are relocated over time or site redevelopment moves inland. Through the coastal permitting process, Maui County has been successful in having oceanfront structures removed at several large resorts during their redevelopment. For more information refer to Managed Retreat in Maui, Hawaii or contact Thorne Abbott, Coastal Resources and Shoreline Planner with the Maui County Planning Department.

Setback policies are now undergoing extensive revisions throughout the entire archipelago. In the case of Kaua’i County, passage of the Kaua’i Shoreline Setback Bill in 2008 heralded one of the most aggressive shoreline building setback laws in the Country. The Kauai County setback is based on the average annual erosion rate (AAER) times a planning period of 70 to 100 years, plus a buffer of 40 feet. The AAER is determined using guidelines in Section 4.1 of the Hawai’i Coastal Hazard Mitigation Guidebook, as well as from data generated by the University of Hawai’i. In coastal areas susceptible to increased sea-level rise, the Kaua’i rule also requires a 10% adjustment in the AAER for future sea-level rise. Hawai’i County also addresses future sea-level rise by using the existing authority in their subdivision regulations to require design for subsidence and a two-foot rise in water level over the next 100 years. On O’ahu, new subdivisions require a setback of at least 60 feet. Also see Ordinance No. 979, Bill No. 2461, Draft 5.

The HCMP and the County of Maui websites describe the Special Management Area (SMA) and Shoreline Setback Areas. The SMA originally encompassed all lands extending not less than 100 yards inland from the shoreline. The shoreline is defined as the upper reaches of the wash of the waves (other than storm or seismic waves) at high tide during the season of the year in which the highest wash of the waves occurs. The shoreline is usually evidenced by vegetation growth, or the upper limit of debris left by the wash of waves. In some areas, the SMAs extend several miles inland to cover areas in which coastal resources are likely to be directly affected by development activities, such as Kawainui Marsh on Oahu and Waipio Valley on the Big Island. The counties may amend their boundaries to achieve the CZM objectives and policies. Amendments removing areas from an SMA are subject to state review for compliance with the coastal law.

No development can occur in the SMA unless the appropriate county (or for developments in the Community Development Districts, the Office of Planning) first issues a permit. Development is defined to include most uses, activities, and operations on land and in the water. For more information, please consult with the county planning departments on Kauai, Maui, Hawaii, and the Department of Land Utilization on Oahu.

The shoreline setback area is the area between the shoreline and the shoreline setback line. Currently, most shoreline setback lines are set at 40 feet from the shoreline, although in some places the Shoreline Setback boundaries extend further inland. The Counties have the authority to set deeper setbacks. Structures or portions of a structure are not permitted in the shoreline setback area without a variance. Variances may be granted for specified structures or activities including private facilities or improvements. No variance shall be granted unless appropriate conditions are imposed:

  • To maintain safe lateral access to and along the shoreline or adequately compensate for its loss
  • To minimize risk of adverse impacts on beach processes
  • To minimize risk of structures failing and becoming loose rocks or rubble on public property
  • To minimize adverse impacts on public views to, from, and along the shoreline.


First published in 1997, the Beach Management Plan for Maui sought to promote beach preservation and sustainable development of the coastal zone. Intended as a guiding policy document, the Plan made numerous recommendations in regards to how Maui County could better address beach management issues. While the topic of sea-level rise was briefly addressed, there was no mention of either climate change or accelerated sea-level rise rates as influenced by global climate change. Since the Plan’s initial release, Maui has adopted erosion rate-based setbacks for construction and revised the Maui County code in order to protect coastal dunes. Still, many of the Plan’s original recommendations remain to be implemented.

Intended to have the force of the law, latest edition of the Beach Management Plan for Maui (2008) identifies 13 focus areas that will enable more effective beach and shoreline management, and further stresses the importance of proactive and holistic beach management practices. Included within the 13 focus areas are sea-level rise, shoreline setbacks and coastal erosion hazard data, and proactive development of coastal lands.

The University of Hawaii Manoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) Coastal Geology Group has great resources on Sea Level Rise, Hawaii's Changing Climate and many other coastal hazards and climate change topics. Living on the Shores of Hawaii: Natural Hazards, the Environment, and Our Communities is a 2010 publication.

The University of Hawaii Sea Grant program website is a good source of information on coastal hazards and related subjects like beach dynamics and sand budgets. Following are links to several such publications and a statewide erosion management plan prepared by the State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR):


Hawaii Sea Grant also prepared Natural Hazard Considerations for Purchasing Coastal Real Estate in Hawai'i (May 2006).

A general discussion of shoreline management in Hawaii is presented here.

Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Land Use in Hawai‘i: A Policy Tool Kit for State and Local Governments identifies and explains key land use policy tools for state and local government agencies and officials to facilitate leadership and action in support of sea-level rise adaptation in Hawai‘i. This Tool Kit surveys state adaptation plans, federal efforts, and other key sources to identify and discuss important land use policy tools for Hawai‘i and suggests how these policies can be used by state and local governments to avoid or lessen the impacts of sea-level rise and related coastal hazards.

Climate Change Adaptation

As a remote island state, Hawai’i is particularly susceptible to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. Recognizing the threats posed by climate change, Hawai’i completed its first Hawaii Climate Change Action Plan in 1998. Resulting from a Climate Action Plan Workshop held on October 30, 1997, the Plan was intended solely as a catalyst for discussions to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change, and thus set no specific adaptation goals or framework. The Plan does, however, identify the potential major climate change effects expected for Hawai’i, including sea level rise with resultant flooding, beach erosion, damage to coastal property, and increased vulnerability to storm damage. Yet within the Plan the development of a long-range climate change adaptation strategy remains a secondary consideration to greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

In December 2008 the Hawai’i Coastal Zone Management Program prepared a draft report Global Climate Change Initiatives for the purpose of assisting the Hawai’i CZM Program and other State entities in preparation for upcoming policy changes and challenges related to global climate change. The publication includes a comprehensive list of Hawaiian agencies and organizations involved with climate change research and/or response, thus providing an excellent source of information pertaining to the State’s climate change initiatives. Drawing from climate change initiatives in Maryland, Delaware, and California, the document also presents examples of successful coastal management strategies that specifically address sea level rise and climate change.

A PowerPoint presentation Climate Change Adaptation Activities in Hawaii was given at the Western Coastal Managers Meeting in San Francisco on January 26th, 2009.

Additional climate change discussions were fostered during the 2009 Hawai’i Conservation Conference in Honolulu which focused on climate change, as well as at the 2009 Hawai’i Congress of Planning Officials Conference in Honolulu focused on building resilient communities. Hawaii’s Coastal Zone Manager Doug Tom spoke at both events, emphasizing both the importance of taking immediate action to adapt to climate change impacts and highlighting the important foundation that CZM and ORMP provide for succeeding in such endeavors.

The Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy (ICAP) released Shoreline Impacts, Setback Policy and Sea Level Rise in April 2009. The report reviews local laws related to sea level rise and shoreline setback policy for Hawai’i and other mainland states, as well as assesses proposed Senate Bill 468 addressing coastal hazards such as sea-level rise. Policy solutions and strategies to enact certain measures are also provided. The report concludes that Senate Bill 468, specifically SB 468 S.D.1., will increase coastal communities’ resilience, yet maintains that the following areas still require additional research: (i) the future acceleration of sea level through more refined prediction and monitoring (ii) the known, possible, or likely impacts of climate change on Hawai‘i, and (iii) the best adaptation strategies for state and local governments.

The report provides the following overview of Senate Bill 468 and also proposes specific amendments to strengthen the Bill’s effectiveness.

“Senate Bill 468 requires early planning for all natural hazards along the coast. By early planning builders and developers design for the proper siting and construction measures during zoning, community planning, and the subdivision stages of the development process. This is to prevent the creation of small lots, which could create a regulatory takings issue when scientifically based setbacks are utilized. Historically, hazards have not been planned for, as evidenced by the state shoreline setback that allows houses within 20 feet of the shore because the lots are too small. Many jurisdictions consider this kind of setback to be an emergency or threatened situation.”


The report also summarizes the setback laws for Hawai‘i and elsewhere, noting that most States do not have regulations in place to specifically address sea level rise. However, current regulations concerning erosion and setbacks can readily be modified to address sea level rise. The most relevant applications have been for Kaua‘i, Maui and Hawai‘i Counties. Even if specific regulations are lacking, jurisdictions have taken action to address sea level rise through the development of specific plans and policy, as well as gathering the necessary scientific information for planning.

On July 16, 2009, the State Legislature met in Special Session and enacted Act 20 (Senate Bill No. 266, SD2, HD2, CD1), which establishes a Climate Change Task Force within the Office of Planning to scope the impacts of global climate change trends in the State. These efforts include addressing sea level rise, estimating the costs of the adverse impacts, and making recommendations on measures that would address the effects of climate change. This measure demonstrates the need for a coordinated effort in Hawaii to address climate change impacts and adaptation options. The message from the Legislature is clear: Hawai’i needs to act now to prepare the State for climate change impacts.

A Framework for Climate Change Adaptation in Hawaii was released in November 2009. This document is a collaborative effort of the Ocean Resources Management Plan Working Group with the assistance of ICAP. Section 3 of the document proposes the following framework for addressing climate change adaptation in Hawai’i. This framework is expected to serve as an early planning tool to help identify starting points, provide insight into the different planning stages, and help initiate climate change adaptation planning as soon as possible:

A. Build Climate Change Adaptation Team
B. Develop and Adopt a Long-Term Vision
C. Identify Planning Areas and Opportunities Relevant to Climate Change
D. Scope Climate Change Impacts to Major Sectors
E. Conduct a Vulnerability Assessment
F. Conduct a Risk Assessment


Upon completion of the above steps, the next course of action will be to develop, implement, and monitor action plans for individual islands and communities. While there are a number of options regarding how to move forward through this process, previous decisions on vision and scale will largely determine how best to proceed. The basic outline is as follows:

A. Prioritize Areas for Adaptation Planning
B. Set Preparedness Goals
C. Develop, Select, and Prioritize Preparedness Actions
D. Implement Preparedness Plan
E. Monitor Progress and Update Plan as Appropriate


In addition to this framework, the Working Group emphasized the need for citizens and officials to become more aware of the urgency to act now to adapt to the impacts of climate change in Hawai’i. The Working Group also concluded that future climate change impact studies and planning efforts statewide were essential.

In 2010 HCMP made a video Adapting to Climate Change in Hawaii. The video references and ties directly to the Ocean Resources Management Plan (ORMP). The ORMP is a statewide plan mandated by Chapter 205A, Hawaii Revised Statutes. It represents a significant change in the way Hawaii approaches natural and cultural resources management in response to public concerns that the existing functional management system was not working effectively. It is based on a three-perspective framework:

  • Perspective 1: Connecting Land and Sea;
  • Perspective 2: Preserving Our Ocean Heritage; and
  • Perspective 3: Promoting Collaboration and Stewardship.


Building on traditional Hawaiian management principles and lessons from past efforts, the ORMP is a shift toward integrated and area-based approaches to natural and cultural resources management that require greater collaboration among jurisdictional authorities and that will catalyze community involvement and stewardship. In effect, it is a bottom-up approach that builds on community partnerships. However, because the change is comprehensive, it will take significant time, effort, and considerable thought to realize. The ORMP maps incremental 5-year management priorities to embark on a new course of action and achieve the primary goal: to improve and sustain the ecological, cultural, economic, and social benefits we derive from ocean resources today and for future generations. Here is the 2006 ORMP.

In their February 2010 meeting, the State’s ORMP Working Group discussed the pending endorsement of the Framework for Addressing Climate Change Adaptation in Hawaii by the Ocean Resources Management Program Policy Group. The Working Group stated that if the ORMP does endorse the Framework, they plan to move forward with climate change adaptation and begin implementing the framework. Initially this would include working with ICAP and other partners to put together an adaptation team, perform an impact assessment, and seek out funding for subsequent steps including risk and vulnerability assessments.

The Hawai’i Coastal Program is also addressing climate change through a number of ongoing hurricane projects and inundation mapping. Projects include the creation of an Atlas of Natural Hazards in the Hawaiian Coastal Zone, Climatic Atlas of Tropical Cyclone Tracks over the Central North Pacific, Kauai Shoreline Erosion Management Study, the development of Hawaii and Maui county wind speed maps, a building code amendment, and the Hawaii Hazard Mitigation Plan. These will enhance the mitigation tools for reducing damage impacts, as well as improve mitigation and emergency management. More on HCZM's Coastal Hazards website.

The above-referenced actions provide important climate change mitigation measures. Efforts towards a comprehensive adaptation plan in Hawai’i culminated on July 9th, 2012, when Hawai’i Governor Neil Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 2745 into law, making Hawai’i one of few states in the nation to adopt a statewide climate adaptation policy for dealing with the impacts of climate change. The bill integrates climate change adaptation priority guidelines into the current statewide planning system. The purpose of the new law is “to encourage collaboration and cooperation between county, state, and federal agencies, policy makers, businesses, and other community partners to plan for the impacts of climate change and avoid, minimize, or mitigate loss of life, land, and property of future generations.” It aims to do so by incorporating climate change adaptation priority guidelines into the statewide planning system, which coordinates and guides all major state and county activities and programs. Adaptation must now be considered in all budgetary, land use, and other decisionmaking processes, including county general plans and development plans. For instance, fundamental coastal programs such as Hawai’i's Ocean Resources Management Plan (ORMP) should now be revised to incorporate management goals and strategic actions specifically addressing climate change adaptation. Another example of a plan that will require further updating is the Beach Management Plan for Maui (June 2008), which noted specifically that “currently, there are no coastal management tools in Hawai’i that take sea-level rise into consideration." That Plan also pointed out that sea level rise was currently not being incorporated into development or infrastructure planning in coastal and low-lying areas. High-accuracy sea-level rise inundation maps showing specific areas that will be affected under a variety of sea-level rise scenarios are therefore strongly recommended. This can be accomplished using high-accuracy LIDAR topographic elevation data such as shown here for Maui.

Hawaii Office of Planning has created a nice Adapting to Climate Change Web page that summarizes the latest state developments in climate change adaptation, including:

"Act 283 (2012), Climate Change Adaptation Priority Guidelines, was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Neil Abercrombie. Hawaii is one of few states in the nation to adopt a statewide climate adaptation policy for addressing the impacts of climate change (Press Release).

Act 283 is codified as HRS §226-109. Because the policy is an amendment to the Hawaii State Planning Act, all county and state actions must consider the policy in its land use, capitol improvement, and program decisions.

The Office of Planning is currently working with various stakeholders, primarily through the Ocean Resources Management Plan (ORMP) program, to implement the policy. The ORMP includes county, state, and federal stakeholders who implement public projects and programs. The ORMP is a coordinated effort that includes input from the community, businesses, and non-profits who contribute to and support these efforts."


Climate Change and Regulatory Takings in Coastal Hawaii (2011) by the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program’s Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy, examines the interactions among climate change, the regulation of shoreline development, and constitutional law regarding the taking of private property for public benefit. It describes climate change impacts; provides an overview of takings law, with a focus on regulatory takings in coastal areas; and explores the application of takings law to critical areas of coastal development regulation, including shoreline setbacks, shoreline hardening, and flood control and mitigation.

Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Land Use in Hawai‘i: A Policy Tool Kit for State and Local Governments identifies and explains key land use policy tools for state and local government agencies and officials to facilitate leadership and action in support of sea-level rise adaptation in Hawai‘i. This Tool Kit surveys state adaptation plans, federal efforts, and other key sources to identify and discuss important land use policy tools for Hawai‘i and suggests how these policies can be used by state and local governments to avoid or lessen the impacts of sea-level rise and related coastal hazards.

The University of Hawaii Manoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) Coastal Geology Group has great resources on Sea Level Rise, Hawaii's Changing Climate and many other coastal hazards and climate change topics. Living on the Shores of Hawaii: Natural Hazards, the Environment, and Our Communities is a 2010 publication.

The Adapting to Climate Change Web page also has an extensive list of resources and accomplishments with links to pertinent documents.

Governor Neil Abercrombie signed the Hawaii Climate Adaptation Initiative Act in June 2014 to guide state efforts to adapt to climate change up to 2050. The Act will establish a climate council, active from 1 January 2015, to coordinate climate action across different departments within the state government. It means that Hawaii will have to create plans on how it will adapt to climate change in both the long- and short-term.

General Reference Documents

EPA's Risk-Based Adaptation website (under the heading of Climate-Ready Estuaries) provides several resources and tools to help users identify, analyze, prioritize and reduce their climate change risks.

An informative publication is Ten Principles for Coastal Development (2007) by the Urban Land Institute.

The Coastal States Organization (CSO) has published two reports relating to climate change adaptation. The first is Coastal Community Resilience: An Evaluation of Resilience as a Potential Performance Measure of the Coastal Zone Management Act (July 2008). (No link to this could be found.) Developed by CSO staff and CSO’s Coastal Resilience Steering Committee, the document demonstrates the value of resilience to coastal management and offers concrete recommendations for enhancing resilience at the state and local level. The second document is The Role of Coastal Zone Management Programs in Adaptation to Climate Change (September 2008)(PDF, 732KB). The report includes detailed results of a 2008 adaptation survey designed to obtain up to date information on the status of adaptation planning, priority information needs, and the anticipated resource needs of the coastal states, commonwealths, and territories.

In April 2009, the Heinz Center and Ceres announced the release of their Resilient Coasts - A Blueprint for Action, to outline steps to reduce risks and losses in the face of growing threats. The Heinz Center and Ceres produced the blueprint with a coalition of leading insurers, public officials, risk experts, builders, and conservation groups. The blueprint is endorsed by many groups, including The Travelers Institute, The Nature Conservancy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Wharton School, and the Mayor of Charleston, South Carolina. The blueprint includes policy changes and common sense actions that could reduce economic losses from future storms and rising sea levels by as much as half along U.S. coastlines. The blueprint outlines specific recommendations, including: enabling planning for climate impacts by providing the necessary science and decision-making tools; requiring risk-based land use planning; designing adaptable infrastructure and building code standards to meet future risk; strengthening ecosystems as part of a risk mitigation strategy; developing flexible adaptation plans; maintaining a viable private property and casualty insurance market; and integrating climate change impacts into due diligence for investment and lending. The coalition urges the Obama administration, Congress, local leaders and the private sector to see that blueprint actions are implemented through regulation, investment, education, and other means.

In January 2010 the National Association of Counties released Building Resilient Coastal Communities: Counties and the Digital Coast which highlights many of the Digital Coast resources that counties use to address coastal flooding, habitat conservation and land use. More resources, tools and data are available through NOAA's Digital Coast website.

More recently, NOAA Coastal Management has developed a Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer as part of its Digital Coast website. Being able to visualize potential impacts from sea level rise is a powerful teaching and planning tool, and the Sea Level Rise Viewer brings this capability to coastal communities. A slider bar is used to show how various levels of sea level rise will impact coastal communities. Completed areas include Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Florida, and Georgia, with additional coastal counties to be added in the near future. Visuals and the accompanying data and information cover sea level rise inundation, uncertainty, flood frequency, marsh impacts, and socioeconomics.

StormSmart Coasts is a resource for coastal decision makers looking for the latest and best information on how to protect their communities from weather and climate hazards. StormSmart Legal is a new addition to the StormSmart Coasts Network that provides information about property rights, regulatory takings, and permissible government regulation in coastal areas.

In December 2012 NOAA's Climate Program Office released a report Global Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States National Climate Assessment. The report was produced in response to a request from the U.S. National Climate Assessment Development and Advisory Committee. It provides a synthesis of the scientific literature on global sea level rise, and a set of four scenarios of future global sea level rise. The report includes input from national experts in climate science, physical coastal processes, and coastal management.

NOAA's Coastal and Waterfront Smart Growth website is organized into 10 chapters describing different elements essential for communities interested in implementing coastal and waterfront smart growth. By clicking on the individual chapters, you can get a description of each Coastal and Waterfront Smart Growth Element, how this relates to the Coastal and Waterfront Issues, Tools and Techniques you can use in your community, and Case Studies of successes. Each chapter contains a navigation box allowing quick access to the information and the ability to download the content of each page. A 2012 report by NOAA and EPA on Achieving Hazard-Resilient Coastal & Waterfront Smart Growth presents ideas shared by smart growth and hazard mitigation experts related to building hazard-resilient coastal communities.

EPA has a website devoted to preparing for rising sea level and other consequences of changing climate. The premise of the Greenhouse Effect and Sea Level Rise website is that society should take measures to make our coastal development and ecosystems less vulnerable to a rise in sea level. The papers on this site demonstrate that numerous low-cost measures, if implemented, would make the United States less vulnerable to rising sea level. A more recent EPA website is Adapting to Climate Change, but was removed by the Trump administration.

Coastal Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerabilities (USGS-NOAA, January 2013) emphasizes the need for increased coordination and planning to ensure U.S. coastal communities are resilient against the effects of climate change. The report examines and describes climate change impacts on coastal ecosystems and human economies and communities, as well as the kinds of scientific data, planning tools and resources that coastal communities and resource managers need to help them adapt to these changes. Case studies are presented for Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

In December 2012 the Lincoln Institute released Coastal States’ Climate Adaptation Initiatives: Sea Level Rise and Municipal Engagement (Working Paper). This paper explores how states and municipalities interact to address sea level rise, providing an overview of the state of practice, some reasons for different levels of action, and some of the needs of municipalities. It includes recommendations for ways states can provide adaptation support to municipalities.

Coastal Risk Reduction and Resilience: Using the Full Array of Measures, (pdf, 1.2 MB) published in September 2013, discusses the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' capabilities to help reduce risks to coastal areas and improve resilience to coastal hazards through an integrated planning approach. Federal, state, local, non-governmental organization and private sector interests connected to our coastal communities possess a complementary set of authorities and capabilities for developing more integrated coastal systems. The effective implementation of an integrated approach to flood and coastal flood hazard mitigation relies on a collaborative, shared responsibility framework between Federal, state, and local agencies and the public.

The National Climate Assessment is an extensive report released through the U.S. Global Change Research Program and produced by a large team of experts with the guidance of the Federal Advisory Committee. The report is put out every few years, with the most recent one being the 2014 National Climate Assessment and the next report expected to be released in 2018-2019. It includes numerous studies on the impacts of climate change on different economic sectors and geographic regions in the U.S. An important and applicable portion of the report is the Response Strategies section, which lays out actionable ways that decision-makers ranging from the federal government to private-sector companies can take to mitigate and adapt to climate change.




State of the Beach Report: Hawaii
Hawaii Home Beach Description Beach Access Water Quality Beach Erosion Erosion Response Beach Fill Shoreline Structures Beach Ecology Surfing Areas Website
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