Definition of ‘shoreline’ is subject of Thursday meeting

State Department of Land and Natural Resources officials have a public hearing in the Lihu‘e State Building tomorrow at 6 p.m. to discuss a rule change to define “shoreline.”

The meeting is to receive public testimony on proposed amendments to Chapter 13-222, Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR), regarding shoreline certifications.

Currently, the definition of “shoreline” under the state Board of Land and Natural Resources shoreline-certification rules differs from the definition under Chapter 205A-1, Hawaii Revised Statutes.

The BLNR members recently approved a change so the rule mirrors the law.

“There needs to be consistency not only in the definition of ‘shoreline,’ but also in the on-site practice of evaluating all evidence in determining the certified shore,” said DLNR Chairperson Peter Young.

“The proposed rules amendment will result in consistent language between the statute and rule,” he said.

Under Chapter 13-222-2, the “shoreline” is defined as “the upper reaches of the wash of the waves, other than storm or tidal waves, at high tide during the season of the year in which the highest wash of the waves occurs, usually evidenced by the edge of vegetation growth, or where there is no vegetation in the immediate vicinity, the upper limit of debris left by the wash of the waves.”

The change being proposed is to reduce the chances of misinterpretation of where the shoreline ends and private property begins where there may not be the presence of either a vegetation line or debris line.

The emphasis on the vegetation line had in past led to an emphasis by those in the surveying community on vegetation, often to the exclusion of other important evidence such as debris lines, scarping on the beach, coastal-dune location, changes in vegetation, natural versus induced vegetation, wave-buoy data, and other important evidence of the high wash of the waves, Young said in a press release.

The present language of the rule and its interpretation had, in some cases, resulted in shoreline delineations that were too far seaward of their proper location by over-reliance on vegetation.

A copy of the rule amendments is available on-line at

Materials are available for review between 7:45 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the DLNR Land Office on the third floor of the State Building.

The proposed rule amendments may also be mailed to interested parties for a fee of $1.

At the public hearing or within 15 days following the close of the public hearing, any person may file with BLNR members a written protest or other comments or recommendations in support of or in opposition to the proposed rule-making.

The BLNR members, including Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau representative Ron Agor, will take final action on this rule-making at a future, regularly-scheduled board meeting.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.