An oceanfront property in Hawaii, where former President Barack Obama reportedly plans to spend retirement, bypassed coastal environmental protections to keep in place a beach-eroding seawall, ProPublica reported over the weekend.
Running along the $8.7 million compound in Oahu where "Magnum P.I." was filmed in the 1980s is a century-old edifice that, judging from pictures, has all but completely eliminated the beach fronting the property.
Yet when longtime Obama friend Marty Nesbitt acquired the property in 2015, instead of choosing to remove the seawall — the apparently environmentally friendly thing to do — he instead proposed an expansion to it, according to permits.
To keep the seawall in place, the sellers of the property allegedly used a planning loophole called an easement, essentially leasing the land below the seawall to the government for a one-time cost of $61,400. The move bought the seawall legal status for another 55 years.
Then after purchasing the property, Nesbitt filed for an exemption so that builders could spend another $3.2 million to renovate and expand the seawall, a move that reportedly angered community members.
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According to the report, "community members are now rallying against the proposed seawall expansion ... some are directing their criticism at Obama, who staked his legacy, in part, on fighting climate change and promoting environmental sustainability."
Scientists say that seawalls are the primary cause of beach loss in Hawaii and estimate that 20% of beach length in the state has been lost within the last century.
While modern laws have been developed to protect the state's beaches, they have failed to do so as a result of as real estate loopholes, such as easements, often used to bypass the policies.
One might think that Nesbitt and Obama, who made environmental protection a major platform of his presidency, would be different and take the environmentally friendly action no matter the cost, but that appears not to be the case.
Permits obtained by ProPublica reportedly show that developers, after having torn down the property's mansion, are planning to construct three homes, two pools, and a security perimeter on the property.
State officials confirmed to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and ProPublica that the Obamas will be the compound's future occupants once the project is complete.