Special Management Area Permits

The Office of Planning and Sustainable Development (OPSD) 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.

Click Here to view an informational video on SMA Permits

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 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.

The First Permit Required for Developments within the SMA

Pursuant to HRS § 205A-28, no development shall be allowed in any county within the SMA without obtaining a SMA permit. The SMA permit is the first permit required for a development within the SMA. No agency authorized to issue other permits pertaining to any development within the SMA shall authorize any development unless approval is first received in accordance with the procedures adopted pursuant to Part II of HRS Chapter 205A.

SMA Permitting Process Overview

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 OPSD’s review and determination.

SMA Locator Online map

Learn more about how OP-CZM and the Counties are working together to improve shoreline and coastal management.

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 808-768-8015

Office of Planning and Sustainable Development’s Role in SMA Permitting

• Serves 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)

FAQs for Amendments to Chapter 205A, enacted by Act 16, SLH 2020

Kaka‘ako and Kalaeloa 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 OPSD.

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 planning and zoning jurisdiction over these two community development districts.

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

Following SMA use application form and information are for proposed developments within the SMA districts of Kaka‘ako or Kalaeloa:

Public Notice

CZM Contact

Contact the OPSD at 808-587-2846 or [email protected] for more information on SMA permitting in general, and filing requirements for proposals within Kaka‘ako and Kalaeloa in particular.