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Don & Sylvia Leutz Realtor Brokers

CRS/ABR/GRI/RSPS/SFR e-Pro Certified


Lic. #RB-19327/RB-19328
Century 21 All Islands
5-4280 Kuhio Hwy, G-4
Princeville, HI  96722

REALTOR-BROKERS, Also Licensed in Nevada and California

Lic. #01339390/#01339286
405 Ala Wai Blvd. #168
South Lake Tahoe, CA  96150

NEVADA BROKER & Broker Salesperson #B.0143356/BS.0143357
P.O. Box 7199
276 Kingsbury Grade, #104  Stateline, NV  89449


Accredited Buyer Representatives

Don is a Certified Residential Specialist

 GRI - Graduates of the REALTOR® Institute

Resort & Second Home Marketing Specialists
E-Pro Certified
SFR Certified
Members, Institute for Luxury Home Marketing
Century 21 All Islands
P.O. Box 223700
5-4280 Kuhio Highway
Princeville, HI  96722
(808) 240-2413
(808) 652-9402



Everyone's dream of the perfect Hawaiian tropical paradise is a home right on the beach!  But before you go ahead and make the decision to purchase oceanfront property, you should be aware of these important issues outlined by the Sea Grant College Program.

The University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program is supported by the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Coastal Zone Management Program for the State of Hawaii Office of Planning.  They have produced a guide titled "Natural Hazard Considerations for Purchasing Coastal Real Estate in Hawaii".  The information presented in this document is intended for general guidance only.  Below are some excerpts from this publication.  For more information check out their website:  www.soest.hawaii.edu/seagrant.

What natural hazards can affect coastal properties?  Hawaii's coastal properties are subject to a variety of coastal hazards that include:  high surf, coastal and bluff erosion, coastal flooding, Tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, lava flows and subsidence.

A tsunami may last for several hours and is capable of causing widespread destruction in low-lying coastal areas.  It is important to investigate what areas historical tsunamis have impacted.  Maps that identify Tsunami Evacuation Zones are found in all Hawaii telephone directories.   

A hurricane has multiple components (storm surge, rain, and wind) that can cause severe damage to property and structures.  Hurricane season in Hawaii is June through November.  Hurricane storm surge and flooding are most damaging to properties immediately fronting the ocean in the VE-Zone of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood zone or in low-lying areas.  Information on FEMA flood zones can be found at:  www.floodsmart.gov  Click on "What's Your Flood Risk?" Then on "Flood Zones Defined".  Another great tool for determining the risk of flooding with your Hawaiian property is this website:  www.hawaiinfip.org.  There you will find the most recent Hawaii Flood Hazard Assessment Tool (FHAT).  The FHAT is easy to use.  You can look at general areas of the island, or get a look at an individual parcel, if you know the tax parcel number. 

Additional coastal hazards can be identified in the Atlas of Natural Hazards in the Hawaiian Coastal Zone at:  http://pubs.usgs.gov/imap/i2761.  Or see www.mothernature-hawaii.com.

Issues to consider when investing in coastal real estate:

bulletWhat is the elevation of the property above sea level and what is the likelihood of flooding?  Higher elevation decreases the susceptibility of the property to seasonal high surf and flooding.
bulletWhat is the condition and behavior of the shoreline?  Is it rocky, cliffed, or sandy?  Is it stable, seasonally dynamic or chronically eroding?  Rocky shorelines tend to be the most stable. 
bulletDoes the configuration of the lot and type of construction allow for relocation of dwellings if threatened by a coastal hazard?
bulletWhat is the shoreline and development history of the property?  Have attempts to control erosion been made in the past and were they successful?
bulletHave there been any applications for shoreline protection structures?  If so, have any been revoked or rejected?  Are existing shoreline structures legal?
bulletWhat is the coastal hazard vulnerability of the property?

A professional geologist or engineer can provide a Coastal Hazard Assessment that addresses all of the above questions.

Can you get insurance for damage resulting from erosion and flooding?  Possibly.  You may be able to purchase a flood insurance policy which is usually separate from a standard homeowner's policy.  The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was established by Congress to make flood insurance available nationwide to eligible properties.  Large discounts on premiums often are available for buildings constructed above minimum standards.  For example, discounts may be available for buildings elevated on pilings or built higher than required to avoid storm-surge flooding.  Check with your insurance company on their policy.  Federally insured lenders, including mortgage companies, banks and savings and loan associations require flood insurance for the life of their lien if the property is in an identified flood zone.  Failure to maintain coverage may permit the lender to declare the balance of the loan due and payable. 

In the wake of the heavily destructive 2005 Atlantic/Golf Coast hurrican season, some insurance companies are canceling or not issuing new coastal homeowners insurance policies along the US East Coast and the Gulf Coast.  Talk to your insurance agent about current policies and your options. 

On January 25, 2008, Kauai County adopted one of the nation's strongest laws affecting oceanfront construction - the Shoreline Setback Ordinance.  The goal of the ordinance is to protect buildings from long term coastal erosion.  In general, all new construction within 500 feet of the shoreline must meet new setback requirements.  If the lot is 100 feet or less in depth, all construction must be at least 40 feet from the shoreline.  As the depth of the lot increases, so does the setback, so that if the lot is more than 200 feet deep, the setback must be at least 100 feet.  On shorelines where coastal erosion is taking place, setbacks can be even greater.  For buildings of 5,000 square feet or less, the setback must be 40 feet plus 70 times the annual coastal erosion rate.  For buildings greater than 5,000 square feet, the setback is at least 40 feet plus 100 times the coastal erosion rate.  The theory behind this greater setback is that a building would still be at least 40 feet from the shoreline after 70 to 100 years of erosion. 

As with every law, the devil is in the details.  While some beaches are eroding, others are building up - the challenge therefore is obtaining a "certified shoreline" determination.  Because of this and other issues that have come up since the passage of the original ordinance, the Kauai County Council passed two amendments to the Shoreline Certification Ordinance in November of 2009.  The amendments give the County Planning Department greater flexibility in deciding when to require a costly shoreline certification, exempting public improvements and facilities (valued at less than $125,000)  as well as repairs to lawfully existing private structures from the certified shoreline requirements.  The Planning Director will continue to have the discretion to require certified shorelines for those that were given exemptions, but is not required by law to do so. 



Links for more information:

Atlas of Natural Hazards in the Hawaiian Coastal Zone:  http://pubs.usgs.gov/imap/i2761

FEMA Coastal Construction Manual:  www.fema.gov/rebuild/mat/fema55.shtm

FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps:  www.msc.fema.gov

Hawaii Statewide Hazard Mitigation Forum.  www.mothernature-hawaii.com

Kauai Shoreline Erosion Management Study:  www.hawaii.gov/dbedt/czm/czm_initiatives/initiatives.html

Participant's Guide to the SMA Permit:  www.hawaii.gov/dbedt/czm/czm_initiatives/sma.html

Sea Level Rise and Tides:  http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/index.shtml

University of Hawaii Coastal Geology Group:  www.soest.hawaii.edu/coasts/index.html




Kauai's Coastline is a total of 110 Miles long


There are 52 miles of sandy beaches on Kauai


That's 47% of Kauai's Coastline!


In comparison - only 31% of Oahu's coastline consists of sandy beaches

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