NS homeowners receive emergency approval to fight erosion

Published On: Oct 18 2013 06:35:20 PM HST
Updated On: Oct 20 2013 10:17:19 AM HST

Sever erosion has steadily been chipping away at beachfront property. On Thursday, the state and city gave the go head to take emergency measures.

North Shore, Hawaii -

The situation for a group of about 10 homeowners dealing with severe seasonal erosion has gone from bad to worse.

Earlier this week only beachfront yards were being threatened in an area between Rocky Point and Sunset Beach, but now at least two homes are sitting on the edge of disaster.

The Yee family home at 59-163 Ke Nui Road usually has a 25-foot buffer between yard and beach. Now, only two or three feet remain as the erosion encroaches on one of five piers that support the home’s second-story lanai.

“You can’t fight Mother Nature,” said Jonathan Yee, who was inspecting the damage Friday as KITV4 shot video.

A little bit farther down the beach, Fred Patacchia Sr. was supervising the filling of large sandbags in front of his son’s home at 59-155 Ke Nui Road. His son, professional surfer Fred Patacchia Jr., is currently competing in Portugal.

“Fred should be where he’s at because he surfs, that’s what he does,” said the senior Patacchia.

Earlier this week, Patacchia’s home lost half of a filled-in pool to the erosion. Now, only a few feet remain before it reaches the back wall of the pool, which if it collapses could weaken the home’s foundation.

On Thursday, Patacchia Sr. and another homeowner received emergency authorization from the city and the Department of Land and Natural Resource’s Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands to move sand in front of affected homes.

"We requested to take sand out of the Paumalu Stream that has been deposited there for years and very rarely gets washed back into the estuary of sand that we believe belongs to everybody," said Patacchia Sr.

Pattacchia is paying about $600 per hour for the heavy machinery and the filling of sand bags. He hopes other homeowners will chip in for the work, but he knows many of his neighbors have limited means.

"Most of us were (here) in the '70s and '80s, although my son was here later," he said.  "But there are people that basically bought in the '70s and '80s when these lots were relatively at a very affordable price."

The greatest concern for affected homeowners right now is a large northwest swell that’s expected to hit the North Shore over the weekend and peak Sunday night. The surf could reach heights of 18-foot faces according to current prognostications, with the added worry of a full moon.    

“That swell has all of us freaked out,” said Patacchia Sr. “They always come, and you know, you can't stop 'em."  

Pattacchia said he requested help from DLNR on Sept. 10 when the erosion wasn’t as bad, but believes the appeal may have gotten bogged down within the agency, which has 10 different divisions. Still, he holds no hard feelings.

“Everyone from all the agencies have been trying very hard to work with us and I appreciate that support,” he said. “They have a hard job.”

Although erosion involves many variables, Pattachia Sr. believes a lack of trade wind swell during the summer, coupled with consistent surf from a more northerly direction over the past month or so, may have contributed to the problem.

“When we get surf in the summer, it completely stops the sand from moving and continues to hold it or bring it in,” he said.

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