Chapter 34 of the Hawaii County Code â€” available online via the Planning Department page of the Countyâ€™s website at www.co.hawaii.hi.us â€” states that shoreline access easements must be established for public use when lands makai of the public road or highway are subdivided into six or more lots or six or more dwelling units are proposed to be built as part of a development.
Occasionally, for subdivisions or developments with less than six lots or units, the County has negotiated or required a shoreline access easement by way of the â€œSpecial Management Area (SMA) Use Permitâ€ required from the County Planning Commission.
The County can purchase such an easement using money from the Hawaii County Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund or the County can condemn the right-of-way (ROW), or easement, under the Right of Eminent Domain.
In some cases, a “prescriptive easement” can be established.Â
In order to have a prescriptive easement or adverse possession of property or a ROW in Hawaii you need the following:
1. Use that is actual and openÂ
2. Use that is adverse to the owner (w/o permission)Â
3. Â Twenty years of continuous, uninterrupted useÂ
Sources: County Department of Planning and Office of the Prosecuting Attorney
â€” Tiffany Edwards Hunt