The Kahana Sunset oceanfront condominiums, also known as the Kahana Sunset Resort, is one of several coastal developments on West Maui experiencing – and contributing to – significant, chronic erosion on the island.
Since at least 2010, the Maui County Planning Department and the Maui County Council have recognized the need for “managed retreat” at the Kahana Sunset, which has two buildings – Building A and Building F – sitting precariously at the water’s edge, with failing seawalls, and foundations atop growing sinkholes (Building F is so unstable, its 12 units have been uninhabitable since March 2021).
A State surveyor has indicated that a shoreline survey would likely show the upper reach of the wash of the waves behind the seawall, meaning it is encroaching onto the public beach. Yet, rather than enforce Hawaii’s coastal protection laws and require adaptive retreat, the Maui Planning Department has, for decades, repeatedly permitted a series of “emergency repairs,” and allowed the condominium to encroach further onto the public trust shoreline. Kahana Sunset Association of Apartment Owners has still not finished preparing a required draft managed retreat plan, and instead has continued applying for “emergency” and “repair” permits.
On June 19 and July 18, 2023, the Maui County Planning Department granted yet another round of permits and exemptions for Buildings A and F, allowing more “repair” and continuing encroachment, without environmental assessment. Accordingly, on July 21, 2023, together with community groups Nā Papa‘i Wawae ‘Ula‘ula and Ka Malu O Kahālāwai (and their leaders Kai Nishiki and Tiare Lawrence), the Surfrider Foundation, on behalf of the Maui Chapter, filed an appeal before the Maui County Planning Commission challenging the permits and exemptions.
The appeal argues that the Planning Director’s permits and exemptions violate the Coastal Zone Management Act (Hawaii Revised Statutes, Chapter 205A), and the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act (Hawaii Revised Statutes, Chapter 343).
The appeal requests a contested case hearing before the Maui Planning Commission. Please stay tuned to Surfrider’s Maui Chapter for updates on the appeal. For more information, check out the Kahana Sunset blog post.