Special Management Area Permits (SMA)

The Office of Planning (OP) administers Hawai‘i Revised Statutes (HRS) Chapter 205A, the Coastal Zone Management (CZM) law.  The purpose of HRS Chapter 205A is to “provide for the effective management, beneficial use, protection, and development of the Coastal Zone.”  L. 1977, c188 §1.  Special Management Area (SMA) permitting system is part of the CZM Program approved by Federal and State agencies.

Purpose of the SMA Permit

The SMA permit was established in 1975 with the enactment of Act 176, known as the Shoreline Protection Act. The legislature in enacting Part II of HRS Chapter 205A found that:

. . . special controls on developments within an area along the shoreline are necessary to avoid permanent losses of valuable resources and the foreclosure of management options, and to ensure that adequate access, by dedication or other means, to public owned or used beaches, recreation areas, and natural reserves is provided.

The legislature further found and declared that it is state policy to preserve, protect, and where possible, to restore the natural resources of the coastal zone of Hawai‘i. Pursuant to HRS § 205A-5, all state and county agencies shall enforce the CZM objectives and policies defined in HRS § 205A-2.

The SMA permit regulates permissible land uses that are already allowed by land use policies including zoning designations, county general plans, and community development plans.

The SMA permit is solely a management tool to assure that uses, activities, or operations on land or in or under water within an SMA are designed and carried out in compliance with the CZM objectives and policies, and SMA guidelines.

County Authority

When CZM, first became law in 1975, the legislature established the SMA regulatory function at the county level. The county authorities administer SMA permits and shoreline setback provisions. The authorities in the respective counties are as follows:

• City and County of Honolulu: Honolulu City Council
• County of Hawai‘i: Windward or Leeward Planning Commissions
• County of Maui: Maui, Moloka‘i, or Lana‘i Planning Commissions
• County of Kaua‘i: Kaua‘i Planning Commission

The authority may amend its county SMA boundaries as necessary provided that any contraction of the SMA boundaries shall be subject to OP’s review and determination.

SMA Locator Online map

County Contacts

Detailed information regarding filing requirements for proposals should be directed to planning department of the county where the proposed activities are located.

County of Hawai‘i
Planning Department
SMA Permits
East Hawaii Office 808-961-8288
West Hawaii Office 808-323-4770

County of Kaua‘i
Planning Department
SMA Permits 808-241-4050

County of Maui
Planning Department
SMA Permits 808-270-7735

City & County of Honolulu
Department of Planning & Permitting
SMA Permits 808-768-8014

Office of Planning’s Role in SMA Permitting

• Plays a role of lead agency in the administration and management of the CZM Program
• Oversees the consistency of the SMA permit system
• Provides CZM/SMA training sessions to county SMA personnel, and the County Planning Commissions
• Provides SMA permit guidance
• SMA use review and approval for developments within the SMA of community development districts

Participants Guide to the SMA Permit (6.2 MB)

Errata Sheet to the Participant’s Guide | Errata sheet contains edits to graphics on page 3 of the Guide.

SMA Permit Slide Presentation

Community Development Districts

Pursuant to HRS § 206E-8.5, all requests for developments within a special management area and shoreline setback variances for developments within a community development district, for which a community development plan has been developed and approved in accordance with HRS § 206E-5, shall be submitted to and reviewed by the OP.

Kaka‘ako within urban Honolulu, and Kalaeloa at Barbers Point, Oahu, are two designated community development districts. The Hawai‘i Community Development Authority (HCDA ) has jurisdiction over these two community development districts.

No development is allowed in the SMA of Kaka‘ako and Kalaeloa unless the OP first issues an SMA use approval. “Development” is defined in HRS § 205A-22, as amended.

For proposals requiring SMA Use Approval within the SMA districts of Kaka‘ako or Kalaeloa, please utilize the following forms and information:

CZM Contact

Detailed information regarding filing requirements and instructions for proposals within Kaka‘ako and Kalaeloa are available. Contact Shichao Li at 808-587-2841 or sli@dbedt.hawaii.gov for more information.