Barack Obama's controversial Hawaiian mansion built using 'loophole' takes shape amidst uproar
Barack Obama appeared rather perturbed as he was pictured at his new multimillion-dollar Hawaii mansion for the very first time.
Obama was seen in photos engrossed in conversation with workers from local building firm Armstrong Builders who are currently tasked with constructing his lavish beachfront compound on the island of Oahu. The 44th POTUS looked tense as he spoke with builders and architects. He was dressed in beige pants and a grey polo shirt as he chatted with at least four developers working on the project Saturday, February 5.
In a string of photos shared by Backgrid, Obama had his arms crossed the entire time he discussed the next steps in building the massive compound. At one point, he appeared to be gesturing as he noted the issues that presumably needed to be solved immediately. As reported by The Daily Mail, the construction has been mired in controversy after using a planning loophole to retain a sea wall that is "almost certainly causing beach erosion."
While some of the architects and construction officials appeared to be carrying plans of the design, it seems the building still has a long way to go before the former president is pleased with it. The building of the sprawling beachfront property, nestled in the Native Hawaiian community of Waimanalo, was purchased by his close friend Marty Nesbitt in 2015 for $8.7 million. Developers are currently constructing three homes on the site including two swimming pools and a security fence around the three-acre property.
That said, Obama reportedly plans to retain a century-old sea wall on the property despite the introduction of state policies in recent years aimed at preserving Hawaii's natural coastlines. Such structures cause coastal damage and beach erosion, environmental experts have argued. But despite laws in Hawaii meant to preserve disappearing natural shorelines, beachfront property owners are somehow able to bypass them.
According to ProPublica, a loophole allowed the sellers of the property to obtain an easement on the sea wall for a one-time payment of $61,400 before it was sold in 2015. The easement is basically a 55-year lease on the public land that sits under the sea wall, thereby allowing the property owner to retain it. While such easements have repeatedly been protested in Hawaii, they are relatively common. At least 120 have been awarded over the past two decades, per the outlet. The controversial concrete structure has protected the coastal estate from the sea in the past, but it now goes against modern laws specifically designed to preserve the Aloha State's natural coastlines.
The sea walls are able to protect what is behind them but aren't able to protect what lies in front. This is the main cause of beach loss throughout the state, according to scientists and environmental experts. Considering, sea walls like the one at Obama's property are said to interrupt the natural flow of the ocean that prevents beaches from migrating inland, Despite the backlash, the developers at the beachfront estate are reportedly hoping to expand the sea wall — thereby angering neighbors who point out that the existing beach along the property has almost completely disappeared.