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Maui Real Estate Radio Latest Broadcast
Show 16: Michelle McLean and Tara Owens
(Click the play button below.)
MAUI LUXURY - Michelle McLean AND TARA OWENS
Intro: The following is a paid program and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the staff or management of visionary-related entertainment. [music]
Clint Hansen: Aloha and good day! This is Clint Hansen with Maui Luxury Real Estate at Maui Real Estate Radio broadcasting Monday 7 AM and 11:10 AM, 97.6 FM, 98.7 FM and our friends on the West Side at 95.5 FM.
You can always get any of these shows at our online spot, mauirealestateradio.com or of course, if you want to search for Real Estate, go to mauirealestate.net. Today, I have with me Michelle McLean and what was your name again?
Tara Owens: My name is Tara Owens.
Clint Hansen: Tara Owens. We wanted to go over the Maui's SMA changes, to the Special Management area. Uhm, so, they've had a few meetings, hearing all over the island talking about coastal changes, special management areas and uh, I wanted to kind of make everybody aware of some of the changes for the better, you know. A lot of people think of regulations as making it more difficult. But, from my understanding, a lot of these are actually making it a little bit more lenient for development and a clearer process to go through.
Michelle McLean: Yeah, that's right, Clint. Thank you! Uhm, it's great that Tara could join us. Tara is the Maui extension agent with the University of Hawaii Sea Grant Program and works very closely with the Planning Department and that's the department that uh, I head up. And, when we're talking about development along the coast lines, it's great to have the input from Tara and other experts like her who can give us the science on which we can base our policy.
And so, what we're talking about right now are proposed changes and I want to be clear that these are just proposed right now. These are proposed changes to the rules for the Maui Planning Commission to follow with the special management area and with the shoreline.
In Maui County, we have 3 Planning Commissions, Maui, Molokai and Lanai and each of those commissions has its own rules. So, what we're talking about today are the rules just for Maui Island.
And so, we're proposing changes, like you said, will make it a little bit more lenient for some aspects of development but at the same time, in other aspects, it will make it more challenging. So, the two go together.
What we're proposing for the special management are rules is to put into the rules themselves descriptions of certain kinds of actions that don't need to come in and apply for SMA review. We use the silly example of if someone wants to put in a new mailbox--
Clint Hansen: Yeah, the mailbox.
Michelle McLean: --or post at the end of their driveway. Today under the rules, if someone calls and says, "I want to do this, do I need to get SMA review?" We have to say YES.
And so, we're trying to describe in the rules those minimal kinds of actions that we don't think will have any impact on the coastal environment that people can just do without even having to come in and ask and without us having to do any review.
So, that's the big part and really there's been pretty broad support--
Michelle McLean: --for those ideas.
Clint: Definitely! From my understanding when I was looking at it, it's like not being one of the changes that you have to get an SMA. Under the new proposal is, if you want to change your roofing shingles, you know. Previously, well, currently, you have to get a full SMA. Is that gonna be one of the exemptions from my understanding?
Michelle McLean: Yes, things like re-roofing or putting PV on the rooftop --
Michelle: --doing interior renovations, doing minimal exterior renovations, enclosing a Lanai. We're looking at, let me back up for a second. The special management area is part of Federal Land State Coastal Zone Management Law and the special management area is a geographical area in which coastal development gets an extra level of review to determine potential detrimental impacts to the shoreline environment and how those impacts might be mitigated.
So, when we're looking at these things like the mailbox, post, like new roof shingles, are those things going to have an impact on the coastal zone or on near shore waters? No, they're not.
And so, we tried to describe those things in the proposed rule changes that, yeah, anybody could do these things and it's not gonna have an impact on the coastal zone. We don't need to review them first.
Clint: And then, as my interest for everybody's clarification, it's typically anything that's gonna be ocean side of the highways and the area we consider as part of like major access points and, you know, waterways that we all incorporate and affect ocean environment.
And so, it'll definitely not be any specific distance from the ocean and if you look on the website, you can actually see the difference varies depending on where you're at along that ocean. So, it's, there's no specific rule of thumb other than the highway.
Michelle: That's, that's right! Generally, and this is true statewide that the SMA boundary generally does follow the coastal highway. And in some cases, like on the West Side, that highway is a mere few feet from the shoreline whereas other areas like Kihei, it's quite a distance from the shoreline.
So, the coastal highway was used because one of the policies of the special management area law is to facilitate coastal access and public recreation in the coastal environment and so, roads on how you get to the shorelines.
So, that's probably the reason why roads were used as the boundary but --
Clint: Feels like a logical assumption to me, so --
Michelle: -- Right. But, in some cases, it's too far from the shoreline and other cases, it's too close, for sure.
Clint: So, with meetings that you guys have been having, how has the outreach been? What were some of the people's concerns in going for, what were some of the things that they were happy about?
I mean, I know it to learn the experience and you guys are gonna be revisiting it before the adoption of these rules. But, what have you been hearing from people thus far?
Michelle: Well, that brings us to the, so, we talked about the proposed changes to the SMA rules to make things easier. The flipside of that is with a different set of rules, the shoreline rules which deal just with development in the shoreline--
Clint: -- setback and all that.
Michelle: -- which involve the shoreline setback. And people are probably familiar, or they've heard about a state, we refer to it as State Climate Commission that issued a report at the end of 2018 --
Tara: -- 2017
Michelle: -- end of 2017, end of 2017, that it talks about sea level rise --
Michelle: -- and there's a resource online, hawaiisealevelriseviewer.com and look at what anticipated sea level rise is over the next several decades.
Clint: Is that hawaiisealevelrise.com, hawaiisealevelriseviewer.org or .com? It's .org, right?
Tara: --.org, sorry.
Clint: Okay, so yeah. So, that's hawaiisealevelriseviewer.org --
Clint: -- for anybody who wants to get that.
Michelle: Thank you for that --
Clint: Oh, no worries.
Michelle: -- correction.
Michelle: And so, looking at that, we are proposing to use, uhm, what we're referring to as the red line, the 3.2 ft of sea level rise, projected sea level rise as the basis for a new shoreline setback.
Clint: Uh hmmm.
Michelle: In some cases that'll actually be smaller than our existing setback but in many, many, many cases, it's gonna be much more, much larger, much more mauka than the existing setbacks.
And so, that will make new development more difficult and it also makes us question and have to determine what the impacts on existing development within that setback will be.
Clint: Uh hmmm.
Michelle: And in the community meetings that we've been having, there are a lot of questions and concerns about that. From shoreline property owners wanting to know what this is gonna do to my home, to my investment, to my commercial use, to my resort and there are a lot of concerns and questions about that.
Clint: If somebody wanted to increase a square footage of their place, what's the kind of limitations on one of those ocean front properties. Isn't it like 50% at max?
Michelle: Under the proposed new rules, if you, if there's a property that today is not in the setback and if the rules were to get adopted, thus, the written now and that property becomes situated within the setback.
Clint: That red line.
Michelle: They would, within the red line, they would not be able to expand their structure at all.
Clint: Oh, no. Okay, then. Wow!
Michelle: So, understandably, there are concerns about that.
Clint: Uh hmmm.
Michelle: Uhm, feel like I've been talking for a lot. I wanted to see if I could bring Tara --
Michelle: -- into the discussion because as I mentioned, with her background with UH Sea Grant. She was involved with the Climate Commission, meetings, has been on the frontlines really with coastal erosion and coastal hazards here in Maui County. So, Tara, you want to jump in?
Tara: Sure! I'm a scientist so, I come at this purely from the scientific standpoint. But, I, now for almost a decade, have been in a roll of working with planners, planning department and policy makers which has been a really great learning experience.
So, I sit right next to the planners that, you know, work in the planning department under Michelle and they're the coastal zone management planners and we're dealing on a daily basis with impacts on buildings and roads and other type of infrastructure from high waves and coastal erosion and all of that relates back to sea level rise.
Clint: Uh hmmm.
Tara: So, for a number of years now, the county of Maui Planning Department has been looking at how do you take the good science we have and we have particularly good models for the state of Hawaii better than what exists in most states and apply that into the policy.
Maybe listeners don't know but the county of Maui was the first county in the state to adopt setbacks, the ones that are in place now based on erosion rates.
Clint: Uh hmmm.
Tara: So, that's looking at maps from UH that show historical shoreline positions and a sign or rate to the shoreline changed from those maps. And, so the larger the rate of erosion, the larger your setback is. That says it currently exist, but it's all based on historical information. It's not looking ahead to what's happening now and what's, what's coming in the future.
Clint: And, I mean, it's undoubtedly that sea level rise has been, you know, increasing by about, in the past I think up until the 19, early 1990's, it was about a little over a half an inch for every decade.
Now, we're over a 1.2 inches for every 10 years that goes by which is a dramatic increase. What we're seeing is that wrapping up and all that might not seem like a big level, the fact of the matter is is as average temperatures of the earth increase, you're gonna see a more and more rapid change in the sea level rises.
I supposed a lot of people might be like, "Whoa! It's just a few inches." But, they fail to realize that, you know, a few feet of change or a foot or a few inches equates to a much bigger effect of storms and storm surges and things of that nature, correct?
Tara: That's right! And one of the cool things about living in an island is that most people are kind of attentive to the environment around them and we can already see this happening.
So, even just in the summertime, when we have King tides, just, just our highest tides of the year. And you might just get a few inches of water on top of what we would normally have with the regular or normal tide and you know, then, we know it is that the waves are flowing over the highway to the West Side and everybody sees that.
So, I think most folks recognize that what you're saying is happening and you're right. Just a couple of inches is what will be the trigger for those, those kind of impacts like the waves flowing over the highway on the west side.
But, there's other impacts, too. We have buildings and other roads that are becoming imminently threatened.
Clint: Obsolete. You know, you were seeing that Lower or that Honoapiilani Highway. That ocean is creeping ever so close to it. I mean, every time I try to buy it, almost seems like a few inches closer to some of the concrete, start to go in and there's, there's been long standing plans to make changes but no final.
So, working in conjunction, you know, lot of people think that the county's exempt from these rules but they actually have to play by them as well. So, when it comes time to make the changes to the roads and going up it, I mean, I'm assuming that's something that you're also juggling as well with getting the future plans of Maui to work properly.
Tara: Yeah, the state department of transportation has a bunch of money in this fiscal year' s budget to study realigning the most threatened portion --
Clint: Uh hmmm.
Tara: -- of the highway on the west side. So, it's not a simple thing, it's not a fast thing but they are well aware of it and are proceeding responsibly, in my opinion. And the challenge there is that, if and when there are storm events that really do threaten that highway, you know, the immediate, the gut reaction is to put barriers --
Clint: Uh hmmm.
Tara: -- and that can just, in the long term can lead to further degradation. But we just have to take of each of those occasions as they come along until they have a long-term plan in place.
Clint: So, Tara, so those hardened structures and shorelines, when they actually impact and cause further erosion from wave action, one of the questions that I actually had during the meeting was does this apply to groins and T-walls as well? And I was actually happy to hear that those can help more than hinder unlike the hardened, other hardened structures.
Tara: Right! As a coastal scientist, we do make a distinction between like a seawall or what's called the revetment which are structures that are parallel to the shoreline vs. a groin which is perpendicular to the shoreline.
They serve different functions although, they both can have impacts. So, whatever the tool is, it has to be carefully designed and applied. But, yes, historically in Hawaii, our response as a state collectively to erosion has been to build seawalls. In response to erosion, to protect property and infrastructure but we now know that that has severe consequences.
Usually, exasperates the problem as Michelle says and leads to beach loss. So, it's considered these days as solution of last resort -
Clint: Uh hmmm.
Tara: -- and you know, it's best to look at alternatives where we have the opportunity to look at alternatives.
Clint: And those solutions, I mean, there's a lot of people in emergency situations, like, you know, the comet area, for example. They're starting to put out those sandbags, those are temporary for my understanding, correct?
Tara: They are temporary. There's been a multi-year effort involving the county and representatives from all of the Condos and Kahana to come together and look at a collaborative erosion mitigation -
Clint: Community plan, right?
Tara: -- solution. There's a financing tool you might be referring to that called the community facilities district that might be used to as a way of getting that construction going. Right now, they're in the environmental planning stages, environmental impact statement, looking at the impacts.
But, hopefully, likely the solution to erosion mitigation at least that has been proposed there is to restore beach. And because the beach has been, is, it serves as the natural buffer between the waves and the development behind it.
And it's possible in this particular location, there's a sand source. But the engineers are proposing the use of groins along with that beach restoration to contain the sand and ultimately slow down the erosion, control the way of energy so that the project will have a longer life.
Clint: It's good to see lot of the Kahana, you know, associations coming together to work towards a resolution to these in conjunction with the county. A lot of times, people think that you know, "Ah, the county, they're getting in the way of getting things done."
And really, you know, I've seen huge moves to help facilitate these processes and even the existent of it in the first place is in very, I think, you know, hopeful for the future of resolving these issues and coming to these solutions. So, I'm really eager to see the changes happen in the area.
Michelle: So, are we. And so is the Kahana community because it's not, it may sound simple but each step of the way is actually quite complex just the environmental impact statement process is very detailed and expensive.
And once the EIS is finalized and the preferred alternative is decided which we assume is going to be beach restoration with a series of T-head Groins as Tara described. The financing of that -
Clint: Yeah, a lot of money!
Michelle: -- is, that's the collaborative effort with the county and with the property owners. As Tara mentioned, the community facilities district is, to put it in layman's terms, is a voluntary tax that those owners are subjecting themselves to that the county collects and then turns around and puts the money into the improvement.
Because it would be difficult for all of those property owners to uniformly and fairly assess themselves for a period of quite a few years, they turned to the county to do that, it's property tax mechanism and then the money goes back to those owners. So, they're just reinvesting in their own improvement but it's largely voluntary on their part.
Clint: How tight or broad is that community facilities district? I mean, is it just isolated in the Kahana area or like a west side thing for Lahaina?
Michelle: It's actually very specific -
Clint: Oh, wow!
Michelle: -- to the project at hand. The ordinance hasn't been adopted yet, the county council has had a few meetings on it to get familiar with the background because it -
Clint: And have a directive, right?
Michelle: -- Right. It is quite involved but it is a very specific geographic area and then the projects that can be funded with the monies collected also have to be defined very specifically. So, it is project specific and area specific.
This one would just be for Kahana but already Napili Bay is talking about pursuing the same kind of thing.
Clint: Oh, wow!
Michelle: And there are other regions in the county that are interested in that, not necessarily for beach restoration but it could be for the other types of infrastructure improvements.
Clint: And I think, was this something that Guzman made like about 5 or 8 years ago with the community facilities district?
Michelle: The bill that was adopted, so, there were two parts to getting this going. First, you need on the books what's called the enabling legislation.
Clint: Uh hmmm.
Michelle: That says the county of Maui is allowed to do this. And then, and that's what Don Guzman worked on getting enacted. So, that's on the books now, we have the enabling legislation. But then, when it comes time to establish a specific district, where you identify the properties and you identify the improvements, then that's a separate ordinance.
And for Kahana, that has yet to be adopted. We don't have specifics enough yet until the EIS is finished.
Clint: Okay, that makes sense.
Michelle: -- the EIS is finished.
Clint: Who's affected, you know, the cost, impacts and all that sort of stuff.
Michelle: And what the improvement is gonna be. What the project is gonna be.
Clint: From my understanding for that specific improvement, one example that was given to me was Airport Beach. Like, I think they had like 80 plus foot wall over in that area that was put and had some sand restoration. I'm not sure coz I -
Tara: North Shore, you're referring to oh, Stable Road. The Stable Road Project. Right, okay, when I think of airport beach, I think of Kahekili on the west side.
Clint: Uh hmmm.
Tara: So, you're referring to the North Shore. There was a small-scale beach restoration project up on Stable Road. It was initiated in about 2011 or at least constructed in about 2011 and it includes 4 small scale groins. So, they are these similar short perpendicular structures but on a smaller scale though and what would ultimately be applied in the Kahana case.
Clint: Yeah, the Kahana's over a 100 feet from my understanding, right?
Tara: They could be, yes. Much larger --
Tara: -- scale and links and you know, the precise engineering solution really depends on the circumstances and the environmental conditions. But it is the Stable Road project does a good example or pilot project in the sense that it is, this type of combination of placing sand on the beach along with short perpendicular structures.
And now, the homeowners, they are continuing to work on restoring their coastal dunes behind the beach which gives the beach even more resilience.
Clint: And the North Shores are much more impacted area, too considering it's open ocean, right? Like -
Tara: Well, really, the North Shore is very volatile in the sense that it's exposed to sort of one of the largest waves we get in the wintertime. But that environment has somewhat adapted to those waves.
Tara: The challenge in West Maui, is that you have this dual wave environment, so because --
Tara: -- it's West facing, you get wintertime waves coming in one direction and then you get exposed to the summertime waves coming in the other direction, it's like a double whammy.
Clint: Uh hmmm.
Tara: Sand moves back and forth and then, on top of that, geologically speaking, West Maui is what we consider sand starved. So, in the upland area, behind the beach, it's mostly with some exceptions, what's called alluvial material which is runoff land base, runoff from the West Maui mountains.
So, as the shoreline migrates landward with sea level rise, it's starting to even to material that's not sand vs the North Shore or Kihei somewhere where the coastal plain is a lot -
Clint: The more dramatic alluvial fans would be, you know, like Olowalu, used to have big old growth forest in the area before the sugar cane plantation days and sandalwood was cut down for the trade.
Tara: Uh hmmm.
Clint: And, you know, now, we're saying that sediment put into the ocean. You know, getting rid of the coral reefs and things of those kind of sedimentary -
Tara: That's right! Exactly, that's the type of sediment that backs the beach in that region. So, basically, there's no future sand supply.
Clint: Oh, I see.
Tara: Other than what's already in the beach system in the near shore area that we're proposing to recycle back on to the beach.
Michelle: If I could jump in to the North Shore example and back to the community meetings that we've been having and the proposed shoreline rules, I mentioned the Hawaii sea level rise viewer and the modeling for sea level rise and a lot of feedback that we got from particularly North Shore people is that the sea level rise viewer doesn't take into account some of the restoration work that they've done.
Clint: Oh, okay.
Michelle: And so, they're looking for the proposed ruled changes to acknowledge the benefits of restoration and for them in the sense, cannot be penalized and for their properties, to perhaps to be considered differently if restoration is achieved or if it's a likely tool for them.
So, basically don't put us into this new setback because we can continue to do beach restoration work and keep our properties safe from sea level rise.
So, we had to regroup after these community meetings and do some more thinking. And figure out how to address those because that project has been successful and that's what North Shore folks are looking for us to respond to.
Clint: Imagine every few hundred yards is a completely different environment that has to be taken in consideration and you know, I imagine some areas have different reasons not just like actual physical changes that people have done to improve. Maybe like geologically stabilized locations that might not have been taken into account.
Is that sort of things that, I mean, from my understanding, too, there's actually a process in which you can look at this red line and then apply to the county to say "Hey, you know, they might not have taken these things into consideration, perhaps this red line should be moved a little bit more favorably."
Michelle: Right! Thanks for bringing that up. That's right, the way that the rules are drafted now even though we're using that red line as a basis --
Clint: Uh hmmm.
Michelle: -- there is an opportunity to amend that as the basis for the setback and that's not a process that has to go to the planning commission or have some long public review because we'd be looking more at the science behind it.
Clint: Uh hmmm.
Michelle: Okay, we see that the sea level rise viewer places the red line in this location but now, you come forward and shown us either restoration work that you've done or different kinds of topographical or rather kinds of surveys where we go "Okay, maybe in this one area, that red line isn't quite accurate." So, yeah, we can adjust that.
Clint: Oh, that's great! It's a nice process and I'm assuming does it all integrate into the GIS System or is it something that's just like you get a letter from the county saying "Hey, the line has been moved these plenty feet."
Michelle: Well, the sea level rise viewer will continue to be what it is --
Clint: Oh, okay.
Michelle: -- because that's not something that the county controls, that's a statewide tool so we wouldn't change the sea level rise viewer, but we would document just in county records that the setback for a certain property is different from whatever -
Clint: Would that red line move, though? I mean, how would that be measured? --
Michelle: No, I don't think the red line would move. Tara's more familiar with the modeling that created the viewer than I am. Unless, there are, and I don't need to go off on that tangent but the worst assumptions that went into the model that created the red line --
Clint: Uh hmmm.
Michelle: -- that UH is taking another look at for us. And so, that might result into a few changes already particularly on the North shore and that could put a lot of these residents' concerns at ease. But, in the event that there are properties that still wanna come in and talk about amending their setback, I don't think the red line itself will change because that's -
Clint: Because they have a lot of relation. The red line doesn't have a lot of relation to the setback, then, does it? It's just --
Tara: I think you're - in this case, there's, the red line is a model that's based on --
Clint: I got it. Okay, okay.
Tara: -- on geological process, right? But, there are some assumptions that go into that model so, if for some reason those assumptions are found to be invalid in a certain case, then the planning department would effectively change the way the policy applies at a particular TMK or property as opposed to changing the model itself which again is based on - you don't wanna change the science necessarily, you're gonna change the way the science is applied in a specific policy for a specific property for a specific reason.
Clint: Oh, okay.
Tara: Does that make sense?
Tara: Yeah, I think that's the way it would be done. Yeah, yeah.
Clint: So, that being said, I would definitely recommend anybody who's interested in seeing some of those sea level rises to go to the website, that's hawaiisealevelriseviewer.org and take a look at the red line, you know. Also, might take into consideration talking to the county to, you know, understand the impacts you maybe make some adjustments. Where would they go to kinda reach out and contact, what department would that be? Yours, the planning department or is there somebody specific that they should reach out to?
Michelle: It is the planning department and actually, if you go to the county website, which is the mauicounty.gov, and go to the planning department on our main page, we have a section called the Hot Topics.
And under Hot Topics, we have the proposed rule amendments listed along with some frequently asked questions. So, folks who are just now learning about this, that would be a place to start. And then --
Clint: And the community has to get involved. I mean, it's a process that we're going through and all of those meetings are there for a reason. You want people's inputs --
Clint: -- so, please, definitely do. Sorry to interrupt.
Michelle: Absolutely! No, that's great. Thank you! There is an e-mail link on there which is just firstname.lastname@example.org. And that would get routed to a few people, myself being one of them if they have questions about the proposed rules.
The community meetings we had, we had, we sent a post card to all shoreline property owners on the island of Maui, letting them know about the meetings that we had right at the end of last year.
In November and December, we had meetings in Kihei, Lahaina, Central Maui and the North Shore and had really good turnout between, I don't know, 50 and 80 people at each meeting, something like that.
Actually, the Wailuku one didn't have all that many people but Lahaina, Kihei and North Shore.
Clint: They seem to be impacted the most, too.
Michelle: What's that?
Clint: Wailuku seems to be impacted the most along the coastal area.
Michelle: Yeah, I don't know. The Wailuku meeting wasn't all that well attended but the other ones were. And had a lot of good questions and we wrote up all the questions that we got.
We regrouped just last week to go through all the questions and each of us who were involved with this project and there were about 5 of us. Each of us have our to-do's, to follow up on and then we'll get back together what changes we want to propose to the rules, what further outreach we need to do.
And it's not clear at this point and that's the question people have been asking. What are the next steps, we're not really sure what the next steps are yet because we haven't digested everything that we've heard an d haven't figured out how to respond to it.
Clint: Uh hmmm.
Michelle: Once we figure out how we're going to respond to it, then we'll do more outreach and let people know. And if everyone's happy with that, then we're ready to go to the commission and ask them to consider adopting the ruled changes. But -
Clint: You've had your meetings and then, next step is to make some adjustments to that. So, the actual adoption to this SMA change might not be for a little while but it's just the initial proposals and changes.
Michelle: That's right! I mean, we had to have a turning point and we've gotten a lot of good outreach and we just need to feel like we've heard everything there is out there. And we might not be able to accommodate every concern. In fact, I can say with confidence we're not gonna be able to accommodate every concern.
But we want to make it clear when we do eventually go to the planning commission that these are concerns, we weren't able to address and it becomes a policy call on their part with our
recommendation how to proceed.
But before we get to that point, we want to be very candid with the community that this is where we are. So, if there are people who still object to it, they'll have their opportunity to make their concerns known.
Clint: So, one of the concerns that I saw that somebody had, so, if you know, you lose 50% of your structure, right? That's one of the concerns, if you have one of these ocean front properties or what not and you have a fire, I mean, the destruction of your property is more specific to coastal hazards, right?
I mean, a lot of people might not realize this but if you're within these areas and you lose half of your structure, you basically can't rebuild it.
So, I think one of the definition changes on this is actually to more coastal hazards, right?
Michelle: That's right! The existing rules now, if you're on the shoreline setback and you lose your structure, damaged more than 50% of its value from any cause, you can't rebuild. What we're proposing with the ruled changes, only if the structure's destroyed by more than 50% of its value by coastal hazards --
Clint: Uh hmmm.
Michelle: -- can you not rebuild. If it's destroyed by fire or termites or some other cause, you can rebuild completely.
Clint: Uh hmmm.
Michelle: It's just if it's damaged by coastal hazard, by that extent, you can't rebuild.
Clint: One of the concerns that somebody had at the meeting is, well, you know, what is the definition or application of you know, emergency situations like tsunami, hurricane or what not. I mean, I supposed that would, you know, be a big dramatic change if you know, let's just say Lahaina got wiped out. Even though from my understanding, the West and South sides of the islands are relatively protected because we have lanai. Same way when the big tsunami hit Southeast Asia, it had places it had almost no effects and then other places that had great magnification because the way the underlying seabed is.
So, let's just say, for example, a large portion of the West side front street community got knocked out. Then, are you saying that as the rules currently stand and even the adoption, is they wouldn't be able to rebuild?
Michelle: As the rules currently stand, structures that are within the setback that get wiped out, would not be able to rebuild.
Clint: So, all of the little pole structures and things to that nature that's on front street and what not -
Michelle: If they're in the setback, hmm -
Clint: Uh hmmm. Uh hmmm.
Michelle: -- And we did just, just need to go over the definition of coastal hazard to really clarify what is and what is not a coastal hazard. So, that'll be coming out the, the next, the next round that we, that we put out there and it wouldn't include tsunamis.
Clint: Oh, it would not?
Michelle: It would not include tsunamis.
Clint: Oh, well that's fantastic!
Michelle: Cause that's not the intended - it's, we're talking about sea level rise and erosion. These things that are coming, coming, coming. It's not the anomaly of something like a tsunami.
Clint: So, speaking of storms and hazards, something that we should ever be aware of, you know, hurricanes and things of that nature, I was trying to find out the last time Maui even got hit by a hurricane.
And I saw a couple of different statistics, you know. I was here when Iniki hit Kauai and from what I could gather, it has been almost a hundred years since Maui's been hit by a hurricane.
Michelle: Oh, I'd have to look at the statistics to the storm track site. I remember when the last direct hit was. However, during Iniki and Iwa, there were substantial impacts on Maui in the form of coastal erosion.
Clint: Storm surge.
Michelle: Hmm, well, right! It can be related to storm surge that leads to coastal erosion and also high waves. So, there were cases, you know, like Kafa Kapru beach in South Maui's an example literally disappeared --
Clint: Uh hmmm.
Michelle: -- in response to the storm which is the natural response of the beach.
Clint: Happens every couple of years.
Michelle: And then, it recovers but the significance of that though is the response. When something, an event like that happens, an episodic event, there's, of course, a natural concern and fear. And then, historically, the response might have been to erect structures and then --
Clint: And make it worse.
Michelle: In the long run, you know. In the long run, it does. Because it doesn't enable that recovery and the natural cycle of the beach. So, it's interesting you go back and look through permits and this is just something that happens organically as I've looked up permits in my 10 years of time here.
You'll see a lot of permits for seawalls came after either Iniki or Iwa and the biggest one is the 1980 storm. Everybody talks about the 1980 storm and you've probably heard about it. That had substantial impacts to the beaches in West and South Maui.
So, there are a lot of permits associated to the impacts of the storm.
Clint: So, that explains why I see a lot of, you know, walls that were built out in Halama Street, all around that town.
Michelle: Hmmm, yeah. There's other reason in that case, too. But -
Clint: So, I mean, that being said, if we have these coastal hazards and this meeting through people to come up to and address this big economic engine, you know. And a lot of it is based around our, you know, natural beauty and splendor being these beaches, being the front street communities and what not.
People love being able to walk across there, see the ocean and all the boats there. Now, to me, it's almost shocking, the idea that they wouldn't be able to rebuild if, you know, there was a large hurricane or something like that or coastal because that is a large percentage of our economy and how it's built.
I mean, obviously, we can adapt over time. And there'd be that impact and there's flood insurances, to help, you know, mitigate those economic changes. And it's really up to those individual landowners. But that being said, has ever, cause I was only at the one South Kihei meeting.
Has there been additional concerns from other parts of the community about, you know, those kinds of damages caused and the impacts of -
Michelle: Yeah, there has been and we, we absolutely remindful at the high, high value of the assets in our shoreline environment. That's for all of our resorts, those urge the huge economic engines for this island and for the county as well as individual's personal investments in their shoreline properties.
And we're not being cavalier about this by any means, but we also feel that we have a responsibility to look at the science and what the predictions are and to do what we can to make sure that people and property are safe.
And you see examples like on the East Coast and North Carolina on the Bear Islands, when the hurricanes come through, every couple of years, completely wiped out, entire communities and they all rebuild.
They get money from the federal government to rebuild and then a few years later, they're wiped out again. And you watch this happen over and over and at some point, you say, "God, these people! They're crazy!"
We're talking about a similar thing here. We're, we're saying if you're damaged by a coastal hazard, you shouldn't rebuild. We're saying don't do what they've been doing there where time after time after time, you're rebuilding because it's not safe and that's not a good investment.
Put that money some place else where that structure is going to last much longer than just until the next storm or the just until next big swell. We have to balance that concern and that sense of responsibility though with these profound investments that people have made.
And that's a very tricky to find that line - between the two.
Clint: And it's not like the county's making these things up, there's mandates given to everybody through the environmental protection agencies and what not. And finding out the best application and adoption of rules that work for both.
Covering that is the responsibility of all of us coming together and figuring out how to best come up with solutions, right?
Michelle: Right, right! Yeah, it's not easy.
Clint: So, please come to the meetings, help.
Michelle: Just a side note, with respect to coastal storms, the, you know, the projections that are associated with climate change suggest that we'll have more frequent and more intense coastal storms.
And for our region of the world out here in the Pacific, you know how you mentioned it's been a long time since we've had a direct hit. But the projections are that the storm tracks are moving northward.
So, even though storms usually passes to the South and once in a while, come through one of the islands, it's looking like we may expect to see a more.
Clint: A little bit more northerly. And that's from my understanding, most of the things that are read say it's been about 180 years since Maui's been directly hit by a hurricane. And there's, you know, it's kinda hard for us to get hit, you know, because of the big island being a big shield.
I mean, it's both literally and figuratively a shield volcano and from my understanding, shear winds come off of that and help, you know, destroy or you know, disorganize the hurricane and say come up.
And, you know, I noticed that when, you know, we had that northerly hurricane, what was it? 2 years ago, or a year ago and it was coming a category 5 which is a pretty big business. And it went 5,4,3,2,1 and we barely got rain.
So, I'm wondering if that's something that's a little bit more calming or uncalming, I mean, I'm a big science buff and I like reading the magazines and learning statistics because I get asked these questions, you know, being in real estate all the time.
Little history, things and so, I think that it's great how you apply and come to the sciences and - the impacts of the tsunami to the different areas. There's so much information on the county but I just, just feel like so protected here and I just don't wanna be wrong about that. Obviously, it's much better to be, feel secure and happy and safe but I'm glad you, guys are there to help us prepare for the future and realize there are very real concerns. So, yeah, thank you!
Michelle: There's something else we're talking about in the SMA rules that I don't wanna forget to mention that ties into this. We have now and we've had for a while provision in the SMA rules for emergency permits.
So, when there are sinkholes or a building is threatened, you can -- The idea of the emergency permit is you don't have to fill out the long and detailed application form which can take a while to put together.
You can just call the planning department, we can go and take a look at what the, what the imminent threat is and just give you a verbal okay to go ahead with your immediate protective measures.
What we're proposing to change is we'll keep that part the same but you have to come up with the long term plan and that's something that we've been working with people for a while to get them to do but it hasn't been in the rules.
It's something that, that needs to be in the rules because it gives us the authority to do it but you can come up with your temporary measures whether they'd be sandbags or things like that but those are temporary and you know, we've all seen examples of where something of -- becomes permanent.
We don't want those things to become permanent. They are intended to be temporary, but the property owner needs to come up with a long-term plan and a timeline to implement it. And, we'll work with them on the permits needed to implement that long-term plan.
So, it's all part of the same thing where we're recognizing these hazards, but each property is different and what--
Clint: Very unique, yeah.
Michelle: -- works well to protect each property is different. You also have to be mindful of what the landowner's capacity is, you know, financially. And otherwise, how the property is developed, you know, what the geology is of it, to come up with the best solution.
But that's something that we're working towards as well. Just making sure that there are long term plans and not just these temporary take-care-of-the-problem-okay-now, the emergency is gone, I'm gonna forget about it and move on.
Clint: So, coursing back to what you're saying along the river of Mississippi or the coastal areas near Florida, you know, where year after year seeing these storm surges and federal funds are coming to rebuild these homes just to be knocked down a few years later.
Have there been any talks about potentially retiring structures and danger zones or anything like that on Maui?
Michelle: The question has been asked a lot. But it, it, our, our belief is that property values here are just too high for that kind of buyout to be a practical option in Hawaii. I think it's called a Blue Way Course Buyout, it's the name of the program that you see in other places where local governments are encouraging people to sell and not rebuild.
Michelle: But those are places with very different property values and government structures. And what we have here, that would just be really expensive for us to do.
Clint: I always liked the idea of like financial or incentive tools. Maybe, if you made a property that's oceanfront vacation rentable for a limited period of time, 10 years, 15 years, something along those lines and then have another replacement chunk of land to a future development.
Something mauka off the highway, you know. Let's say you have a 5,000 - 10,000 square feet of oceanfront, that would be like, oh, ½ acre or you know, maybe a full acre of property on the ocean that would give them the financial ability to, you know, harvest money from this location, increase tax revenues.
And then, actually build something in a much safer location and then when it comes time to retire that structure, then you have a more community space available along the most valuable chunk of land that generates the most money for the county.
Will that happen? Probably not, but I mean, sometimes you have to think creatively --
Clint: -- if we could, you know, come to the solutions before they become problems, it's always a good idea cause -
Clint: -- if 3.2 feet of sea level actually happens, we're gonna, you know, which is worst case scenario, right? I mean, they used to say it was gonna be a foot and a half, now they're like, maybe 3 ft.
Tara: 3 ft is now actually the conservative target.
Clint: Oh, wow!
Tara: Yeah, yeah! And the timing is actually the big uncertainty, so, the 3 ft, we're pretty much locked into 3 ft by 2100 but it could be much sooner, as soon as maybe mid-century.
So and then, the inter-government and panel on climate change that regularly review all the scientific literature and this is, you know, a global group of scientists, they review the literature and they'll update the sea level rise projections, that'll be in the next year or two and the current state of science is adjusting everything up.
Clint: Absolutely! That's what science is.
Tara: Yeah, yeah!
Clint: Coming to a more and more accurate model. And one of the things from my understanding about sea level rise is a lot of people think, "Oh, ice melt water going to the ocean and sea level rise."
It does have a contributing factor but the more I read about it, it's actually the, as the individual molecules increasing, as average temperature increases, especially deep ocean waters, those cold waters, those molecules expand ever so slightly and that's one of the major contributors and not the smaller ones.
Tara: It's both, you have ice melt and contributing more water to the global ocean and then you have thermal expansion --
Clint: Uh hmmm.
Tara: -- is the process you're talking about. Water molecules expand as they get warmer so that increases the volume of water. There are a lots of other factors, too that are now being modeled. Gravity comes in to play --
Clint: Uh hmmm.
Tara: -- these big ice sheets. Actually have, they're so large, they have a gravity, a gravitational --
Clint: Pulling the water up.
Tara: -- attraction, pull the water toward them. So, as they melt, the gravity changes and the water slushes around to other places.
Clint: Disperses more evenly a lot around the Globe.
Tara: In different ways, it's not homogeneous. So, that affects how sea level rise and affects different regions.
Clint: So, what you're telling me, it's not easy.
Tara: It's not easy and I wanted to commend you for just making an example of, you know, one way just your idea, you threw out there. How you might accomplish a retreat process in the future. You suggested vacation rentaling and ocean properties as a revenue stream to trade properties or something like that.
It's, I appreciate that because a lot of times in the past, folks in the community turned to a scientist for ideas or the answer, the magic bullet how do we retreat and there isn't a single community in our nation that has the answer to this question.
It's up to our community to figure it for our ourselves and I don't think we have it figured out yet. We're -
Clint: So, please, we're always looking for creative solutions. If you can come together and, you know, come help us mitigate these problems before they become real problems, that's gonna be the best way we can deal with that to help foster and grow our economy.
You know, before these, you know, inevitable disasters strike. Of course, when they happen, 10 years from now, a hundred years from now, it's not something that's gonna be dialable or known but it's something that's will eventually happen.
So, if you have good ideas, always, you know, the county is there, available to talk to. I would love to see feedback on my Facebook, that's Clinthansen@mauiluxuryrealestate. You know, you can go to our website, mauirealestateradio.com where there's, you know, connections there to blogs and vlogs and things to that nature, you can help put in input.
Please always feel free to e-mail me. Do you, guys have any contact information you'd like to forward to them about meeting and what not?
Michelle: Yeah! We, just the general planning department e-mail, email@example.com and that's firstname.lastname@example.org. And those get routed to the appropriate person and if it has something to do with sea level rise or the shoreline rules, SMA rules, those will get routed to me and to our shoreline team and we'll bring Tara into the loop as well.
We, we are still processing the feedback we've gotten to date and if there is more feedback, of course, we want to take it. I mean, this is an ongoing process of outreach and collaboration, so we appreciate the opportunity to talk with you and to get the word out.
Clint: And thank you so much for both of you for joining me today. Thank you!
Tara: Thank you!
Clint: Thank you, Tara. Thank you, Michelle. I really --
Michelle: Thanks, Clint.
Clint: -- thank you. It's always nice and there's so many more things we can talk about. I'll definitely have to have you in here again because it is a very multi-faceted department. You're seeing us on Maui Real or seeing - radio, listening to us on Maui Real Estate Radio on 11:10 AM, the KAOI Radio Group. Also, broadcasting 96.7 FM, 98.7 FM, and our friends on the West Side at 95.5 FM.
Feel free to join us at mauirealestateradio.com to listen to any of these [music] as well as come to mauirealestate.net to search for real estate or feel free to give me a call or e-mail. My cellphone is 808-280-2764, my e-mail is my name, Clinthansen33@gmail.com.