Taxpayers on the hook for Waikiki seawall repairs

Published On: Dec 11 2013 04:59:00 PM HST

Hitoshi Yoshida walks along this seawall just about every day.

He'd like to see the crumbling wall fixed and doesn't care who does it-- the state or Gold Coast condo owners.

Click here to watch Catherine Cruz's report.

"It's manageable at this point, but in the future I sure it is going to be in bad condition," said Yoshida.

It took two lawsuits, a trial and two years to get a judgement but the ruling puts the state on the hook for repairs.

Lawyers for the association argued that after Hurricane Iniki the state had no issues fixing the wall when it was damaged by boulders tossed around by high surf.

"The state had no trouble fixing it. They hired a contractor. They put in railings in certain areas of the wall and they certainly acted like they owned it." said Robert Klein attorney for the Gold Coast Association.

"The last administration changed the policy, and the current administration is holding to the position of not using taxpayers’ money to fix private property, which I understand, if its private property, but historically it has not been treated as private property," said Klein.

Klein points to a complaint about a sea ladder. Not this particular one in place today, but an illegal structure that was erected more than a decade ago.

The association was forced to get an easement and permission to attach the ladder to the "state wall."

"We pulled it out all. We went through the process and spent a whole lot of money with an attorney and got a permit to put in back. We have to provide $3,000 a year in premiums in insurance and have to keep it clean, but it can stay there forever," said Don Persons a long- time Gold Coast resident and member of the association.

A lot of surfers, fishermen and swimmers regularly use this wall and ladder to get access to the ocean.

It's that regular public use of the 100- year-old wall and liability that is worrying some. And it's raising eyebrows about the need to revisit the state's policy on seawalls.

"Clearly when you read about seawalls if people walk on year after year, what does that really mean? Does that become a thoroughfare, and should have the state have some responsibility?" said Rep. Cindy Evans, chair of the House Committee on Water and Land.

The wall in question runs along popular surf spots from Castle's and Old Mans. to Tong's and Shipwrecks, but the ruling could cast seawalls across the state in a new light

State Land Director William Aila said his department and the state attorney general are reviewing the ruling and has not decided whether to appeal.


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