Seawalls Destroy the Public Beach
We are all ignorant, it just depends on the subject. The County Council listens to their County engineers when they advise that the County should put a sidewalk on Wailua Beach and that the County should build a seawall on ‘Aliomanu Beach to protect the road. The County “engineers” (not coastal engineers) say that the big problem with seawalls is that they cause erosion at the two ends of the seawall. (True.)
What they didn’t learn in their classes was that when the ocean crashes against a hard structure, whether it is an old school seawall, a sandbag seawall, a sloping rock seawall (revetment) or even a bike path-sidewalk built on the shoreline, the ocean surf reflects off the wall and slams the sand back out into the ocean. The sandy beach in front of the seawall disappears.
Seawalls, regardless of their construction or shape, erode the beach at about twice the rate of normal. I was part of the small band that set up the national Surfrider Foundation thirty five years ago. One of our main goals was to educate the public that seawalls destroy public beaches and destroy offshore sandbars.
We are making some progress. Some states outlaw seawalls. There is no reason our county council should be educated on coastal dynamics. Our county engineers need to do their homework. All seawalls regardless of their construction destroy the public beach.
Gordon LaBedz, Kekaha
Saying the word resilient doesn’t make it real
This year students have been described as “resilient,” and educators, praised for “dealing with the challenges posed by the pandemic.” Let’s assess that characterization in light of recent events:
An administrator exclaims, “Do you want old people to die?” while tearing up and throwing out a nine-year-old’s homemade petition to end the mask mandate at an elementary school. A teacher sends children home from middle school because they coughed in class – once. With no actual symptoms, they are ordered to stay home, thereby missing more school (albeit limited since they’re still not back full time), undergo COVID testing, and obtain a doctor’s note before they can return. Teenagers – many of whom haven’t seen the inside of a classroom or classmates all year — have anxiety, depression, and an increasing sense of hopelessness. One high-schooler openly stated, “Sometimes I feel like it would be okay if I just didn’t wake up.” Is that where we are as a society, applauding “resilience” because kids who’ve been stifled all year in every way with no relief haven’t killed themselves yet?
Word has it that teachers are seeking “hazard pay” bonuses, and that HSTA President Rosenlee is jockeying for the role of Superintendent of the HIDOE. To date, teachers are the only self-proclaimed essential workers who have not returned to their regular jobs (actually performing less work for fewer students) while collecting their full salaries. If a mechanic whom you are paying to work on your truck instead spends his time and effort bolstering his salary and benefits, would you continue to take your truck to that mechanic? Would you say nothing to the mechanic or the garage manager or owner on your way out the door?
Saying kids are “resilient” does not make any of this okay – especially when you consider that we on Kauai never had a COVID outbreak warranting school closures in the first place, by any measurable standard. No one denies that fact; no one talks about it either. The only pandemic that truly threatens Hawai’i is this gross detachment from both reality and the professional responsibility that comes with public service. It’s time to say it: There is absolutely no reason to keep kids who want to return full time from doing so either now or next year. HSTA President Rosenlee, CAS Zina and the entire Board of Education should all be fired and replaced, immediately. One can only hope that principals, teachers and staff who said nothing all year will grow a conscience over the summer. And the only real “challenge” facing public educators will be how to spin this past year to make it seem like their decisions did not result in total disaster with dire long-term consequences for an entire generation.
Kristin Matsuda, Lihu‘e