Public’s Testimony Outs DLNR Harbor Management Nightmare

DLNR Public Harbor Mismanagement #1 Concern of Boaters

One Voice: A Cross Section of Public Testimonies Submitted to the BLNR Regarding the Proposed §13-234 Rules Package

In this post, we share with you, not only the testimony that we submitted to the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR), but the testimony submittals of a cross section of grass-roots boaters and ocean recreation enthusiasts.  The testimonies respond to the BLNR's  Chapter 13-234 HAR, fee increase and rules change proposal package, the final public hearing for which is right around the corner, Saturday, March 2nd, 2019.  Please continue to submit to us your testimony, comments, observations, up until March 7th, 2019 (submit to  And then submit your same testimony to the BLNR as below.

Click here for Hawaii Ocean News staff public testimony to the BLNR
Click here for the testimonies from the public to the BLNR

 This is how the public can participate in the Public Hearing process:

Submit your testimony in person: On Oahu, at Aiea Elementary School Cafeteria, 99-370 Moanalua Road Aiea, HI 96701 on March 2, 2019 from 8:30am to 10:30am.  Click here to see meeting times and places on other islands.

Meeting locations are disability accessible. For special needs (large print, sign language interpreter, etc.), call Clifford Inn on Oahu at (808) 587-1972 at least one week prior to the designated date and time of the applicable public hearing.

All interested parties are invited to attend, in person, and present their views on the proposed amendments, either orally or in writing.  Individuals interested in providing oral testimony must sign in with DLNR staff no later than 30 minutes after the stated start time of the public hearing.  Public hearings will conclude at the stated times or when the last oral testifier has finished, whichever comes first.

Submit your testimony in writing:  written statements may be submitted at the public hearing or to the Chairperson, Suzanne D. Case, up to five working days after the latest public hearing date (see email caveat below).  You may also submit written testimony by replying to this email:  Those emailing testimony are strongly advised/cautioned to send your testimony no later than two days in advance of the meeting (Thursday, February 28th) so the board has a chance to review your comments.  If you email, please request a confirmation of receipt and  be very specific as to which meeting (see above) and which agenda item is being referred to; in this case, Chapter §13-234, fee increase proposal.

The proposed rule amendments may be viewed online at the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation website (


Please find below a cross-section of public testimonies from around our ocean recreation community, regarding the fee increase proposal (§13-234).

Public Testimony
From: The Staff of Hawaii Ocean News, Katherine Lindell, Editor
Subject: Chapter 13-234, Hawaii Administrative Rules

This testimony is intended for each of the members of the Board of Land and Natural Resources:

Suzanne D. Case, Chairperson
Stanley H. Roehrig, Hawai`i Member (Term: 7/01/14 – 6/30/18)
Keith “Keone” Downing, At-Large (Term: 7/01/17 – 6/30/21)
James A. Gomes, Maui Member (Term: 7/01/17 – 6/30/21)
Thomas Oi, Kauai Member (Term: 7/01/16 – 6/30/2020)
Samuel “’Ohu” Gon III, O`ahu Member (Term: 7/01/17 – 6/30/21)
Christopher Yuen, At-Large (Term: 7/11/14 – 6/30/18


Using dishonest pretense to bilk the public of funds for poorly managed public assets is a reprehensible betrayal of public trust.

The Chapter 13-234 proposal, in its present form, deliberately misleads Hawaii’s public, seeks to fund the State’s eleven unprofitable harbor properties on the backs of the tenants moored in its four profitable harbor properties, and asks for fees for facilities and services that do not exist, or barely exist. 

The document talks about fees for “use” when “usage” has nothing whatsoever to do with the requirement for payment, it talks about raising slip rates in harbors that, in some cases, are making millions of dollars in profits and of tenants who have only recently finished paying off the amortized fees from the last increase, while asking for additional fees for dilapidated, security-compromised, or non-existent facilities.  (13-234-10, 13-234-11, 13-234-3, 13-234-4)

The document discriminates against tenants with smaller vessels -- mostly average-income tenants -- essentially asking them to subsidize owners of larger vessels. (13-234-10 and 13-234-3a)

The document further exacerbates the State-created slip shortage problem by burdening local boaters with still higher fees for temporary mooring permits, and will now require our aunties and uncles receiving middle-of-the-month fixed-income checks to now come up with mooring fees by the beginning of the month. (13-234-7 (2)(b), 13-234-3(c)

Bathrooms in the harbor system continue to be deplorable, with feces and urine-soaked floors, shower stalls, and sinks not an uncommon sight due to a spotty cleaning schedule; yet Chapter 13-234 now wants to charge harbor card-key holders a new flat-rate fee of $15 per month just for having a card-key in their possession, having nothing whatsoever to do with their “use” of the bathrooms. In point of fact and for reasons mentioned above, many card-key holders do not “use” harbor bathrooms except in extreme emergencies.  The homeless and the drug addicted can often be found inside the card-keyed bathrooms.  What, exactly, is the plan for charging this latter group for "usage?" (13-234-11)

Instead of holding the public hostage for the irresponsible management of our public harbor system, the folks who have been entrusted with this responsibility need to step up to the plate, be honest, and do the right thing:

Fiscal responsibility: find the revenue in failing harbors to properly fund the operation of those same harbors, rather than using the proven failed Robin Hood approach (stealing from the tenants in profitable harbors to pay for the poor management of failing harbors) to fix disastrous fiscal administration practices.

Reinvest excess revenues found in profitable harbors back into those same harbors so as to repair and upgrade their facilities and infrastructure.

While it is true that the last slip fee increase was enacted six years ago, in actual fact, the fee increase was so steep that boaters were allowed to amortize payments of the new fee over a period of three years. If Ed Underwood's/DOBOR’s representation of “the last time we had a fee increase . . .“ had been truthful, the last slip-fee increase has only recently come fully into effect for many harbor residents; these latter have, only a few years ago, begun paying the new, higher rate in full.  Peg slip fee increases to official State and federal inflation figures.

Living aboard in the Ala Wai is not the same as renting a condo, so please stop comparing the two. Legal live-aboards bring their own housing to the small space provided by the State. Live-aboards are paying for a space, not a unit.  And, while they don’t burden our harbor any more than a non-live-aboard, legal live-aboards pay a much higher rate while, at the same time, performing a valuable service for the State and the surrounding community: they are the eyes and ears of security in the current harbor system. It is common knowledge that DOCARE is incapable of enforcing in the harbor system and so the burden falls on the Honolulu Police Department, at the behest of alert live-aboard residents.  Reduce the live-aboard fee and properly acknowledge the service that live-aboards provide.  Live-aboards do not receive any value-added amenities for the additional fees that they are being charged, and they do provide the State with a much needed service. Legal live-aboards, by the way, are currently living side-by-side with illegal, non-paying, live-aboards who have been living on their boats for years. What is the plan, exactly, for holding the latter group accountable for live-aboard privileges? (13-234-8)

Please don’t lie to the public: charge non-HECO monitored slips, such as those on the floating docks at the Ala Wai, for actual “usage”, as 13-234-10 states, rather than burdening these tenants with unrealistic flat-rate fees. Many tenants have never plugged into the outlet in front of their boat, and some only use a small amount of power; what is the justification for charging these latter tenants a 1000% increase in electrical fees when they don’t even ‘use’, or use little of, the electricity at their pier?

Suzanne Case's DLNR continues to ignore the State’s constitution* by failing repeatedly to respond to the enormous environmental damage that is being done by raw sewerage, plastic effluence, and large tree branch/trunks dumping into our tributaries: we are a major contributor to MRSA infections among our visitors and residents, and to the plastic crisis in our oceans.  Instead of focusing on handing off precious public assets, like our public harbors, to private corporate interests, euphemistically referred to as public/private partnerships (as if the ‘public’ would ever bless this), why not form a federal/state partnership to help solve our severe environmental problems, much of which threaten the health, safety and well being of the public? (LINK)


Specifically, here is a cross-sampling of some of the issues with Chapter 13-234:

§13-234-10: The word "Usage" in §13-234-10 is deliberately misleading, essentially lying to Hawaii's public that harbor tenants will pay a 1000% increase for the consumption or "use" of electricity at their pier. The Board will need to change the wording in this section so that it accurately describes the burden on the harbor tenant.   The wording should be: "harbor tenants on non-HECO monitored piers will be assessed a 1000% increase over current flat-rate charges; the flat-rate charge gives tenants potential access to an electrical outlet, completely ignoring actual electrical consumption."

a) §13-234-10 electrical fee increase blatantly discriminates against owners of smaller vessels in the harbor system.   Larger vessels require larger amounts of electricity while smaller vessels use relatively little, generally speaking, which forces smaller vessels to subsidize the electrical usage of larger vessels on the grid.   Patently unfair and an invitation to legal challenge.

b) The 13-234-10 proposal completely ignores the State of Hawaii's Green Energy Initiative; the use of alternative energy to supply electricity.  There isn't even mention of an exemption for those vessels that are generating all of their own electricity, completely off the grid, in step with the State's alternative energy goals.  This is particularly disturbing  in light of the fact that Board Chair, Suzanne Case, would have us believe that she's committed to Green Energy.

§13-234-11: The word "Usage" in §13-234-11, $15 monthly fee for the "use" of the bathroom facilities is, again, grossly misleading, and should read:  "A new $15 per month charge will be levied on all tenants who have in their possession a card-key that grants access to the card-key bathrooms, whether you actually use those bathrooms or not."   This new levy is nothing more than a flat-rate monthly charge for having a bathroom card in one's possession.  "Use" has nothing to do with it, because if it did, the State does, in fact, have the technology in place right now to monitor "usage" in the card-key bathrooms and therefore charge accordingly.  This latter alternative seems completely missing in this document.

§13-234-3 Slip fee increases:  Fee increases for the harbors that operate in the black are clearly unnecessary. Because the last fee increase of six years ago was so high, the fee was levied over an amortized three-year period; tenants have, only a few years ago, begun paying the new, higher rate in full.

Additionally, responsible fiscal harbor property management requires that the some eleven failing harbor properties bring in revenues that will assure those facilities to at least operate break-even. They have that potential but there has been no effort towards making this happen.  There is tremendous demand for these slips.  There are eleven failing harbors.  There are four profitable harbor properties.   Responsible fiscal management of our harbor facilities requires that excess revenues from successful harbors be reinvested back into those same harbors while failing harbors see revenue modifications that make them solvent.  Ask any real-world businessman or woman and he or she will tell you the same exact same thing.

a) The "slip-size" clause in this same section patently discriminates against tenants with smaller boats, that they must pay for their slip size vs their vessel size.   As a result these smaller vessels will be called upon to pay more than their fair share, while owners of larger vessels will continue to pay for their vessel size.

b) The clause in this section suggesting that multihulls pay double should NOT be a blanket assessment.  There are different kinds of multihulls with widely different dimensions, some friendly to our slip sizes, and others needing end-piers.  This is a complex subject and should not be treated with the simplistic logic of a five-year-old.

c) The monthly slip fee payment deadline of the 4th of each month vs the end of the month, as it now stands, will cause an unnecessary hardship for boat owner aunties and uncles on fixed incomes who receive their pension check on a date subsequent to the 4th.  Hogtying the public with this rule is unnecessary and harmful.

§13-234-7 (2)(b) Large transient fee increases sees the State of Hawaii cashing in on the well known slip shortage problem, a problem, in most part, created by the State in the first place.  The transient system is one of the short-term options available to local boaters, buying them time to find a permanent slip for their vessel.  The up to 500% increase in fees (along with §13-234-9) suggested in this section will make the process of coming up with decent permanent mooring just that much tougher, making for an even more stressful experience than is already the case.  Raise the transient fees for out-of-state boats, not local boats.  For those actually familiar with the difficulty in finding suitable mooring in the State of Hawaii, this is nothing more than common sense.

§13-234-4, Offshore Mooring Rate increase of up to 500%:  Once again, here we find grossly misleading verbiage attempting to convince the uninitiated that the State of Hawaii actually has facilities for vessels moored offshore, on their own tackle, in remote locations and therefore needs to charge for the "use" of these.  "Use" being the favorite lie in this document, we would suggest that any of you on the Board who have the experience for off-shore sailing in Hawaiian waters, that you try anchoring off the west coast of Lanai (a favorite anchorage for experienced sailors) and then locate and "use" all or any of the "many facilities" available there.  You may find, as is the case with most of Hawaii's offshore anchorages, that there is nothing that might be construed as a "facility" for visiting sailors. Nothing. 

These above issues are just the tip of the iceberg. The document raises many more questions about issues such as the safety and repair of launch ramp facilities, the fees for which are slated to nearly double, the fiscal handling and management of the land-based sectors of harbor properties, and the sketchy accounting practices which fail to properly track harbor property liabilities. Questionable, too, is the paperwork procedural nightmare that keeps legitimate boat owners out of the harbor system.

Members of the Board, you are being asked to approve a document that, in its present form, suggests that the BLNR/DLNR has neither the good sense, the business acumen nor the intelligence to responsibly and properly administer/manage public assets like our harbors.  Please see the following video for a real-world update on the current state of our public harbor system and our ocean recreation environment: Given the misleading verbiage in many parts of the Chapter 13-234 document, it is surprising, if not alarming, that the Board Chair, Suzanne Case, holding a degree in law, and insisting that she's environmentally aware, would have ever even allowed this version to be present at a BLNR meeting.

Thank you for considering our testimony.


Katherine Lindell, Editor
On behalf of the staff at
Hawaii Ocean News

*Hawaii State Constitution:


Section 8.  The State shall have the power to promote and maintain a healthful environment, including the prevention of any excessive demands upon the environment and the State's resources. [Add Const Con 1978 and election Nov 7, 1978]


Section 9.  Each person has the right to a clean and healthful environment, as defined by laws relating to environmental quality, including control of pollution and conservation, protection and enhancement of natural resources. Any person may enforce this right against any party, public or private, through appropriate legal proceedings, subject to reasonable limitations and regulation as provided by law. [Add Const Con 1978 and election Nov 7, 1978]


“The people of Hawaii believe that public officers and employees must exhibit the highest standards of ethical conduct and that these standards come from the personal integrity of each individual in government.”


Below find a cross-section of public testimonies from around our ocean recreation community (NOTE: The DLNR has been sent each and every one of these testimonies by their authors, and has a copy of these in their archive):
(Note to reader: Google Analytics tells us that we are currently being viewed in 27 countries worldwide as well as an increasing following in the United States.  Because of this, in order to protect identities, we have not printed the last names of respondents except in cases where they have asked us to do that.)

Public Testimony

From: Bruce B., Honolulu

Subject: Chapter 13-234, Hawaii Administrative Rules

DLNR's own accounting shows that there is no need for a rate increase at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor.  Rather, several underway projects - 800 row and 600 row repairs - need to be completed bringing 70+ additional slips online.  The additional slips will provide mooring revenues and parking revenues.

I have read all the materials I could find regarding the proposed rate increases relative to the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor.  It's a non-trivial list.  I only learned of the webpage containing said information because another Ala Wai resident pointed it out to me on November 21, 2018

The official notice was taped to the counter at the Harbor office.   Only one of the office staff even knew of this announcement's existence.  Since DLNR sends each tenant a bill every month, how hard would it be to include important information in that mailing?

Link from the above referenced notice:

Reports Related to Proposed Fee Increase - The following links are from this webpage:

Current list of deferred maintenance projects for the small boat harbor program - doesn't include the 800 row repairs or 500 row street light repairs (been out for a year with attendant rise in nighttime drug activity).

Calculations of revenues and expenses by harbor (warning: large .pdf of 2016, 2017, and 2018 budget spreadsheets)

To assist my understanding of the budget issues this harbor is facing, I produced a year over year comparison spreadsheet of Ala Wai SBH revenues.  A .pdf version of this document is attached (AlaWaiYearOverYearRevenue.pdf).

Click here for larger image: AlaWaiYearOverYearRevenue.pdf

In addition to income figures, the revenues and expenses by harbor document includes expenditures, again broken out by harbor.  I call your attention to pages 4, 18, and 30 of 38 pages of the revenues and expenses by harbor document.  The line labeled Net Income (Loss) near the bottom of each page shows clearly that the only harbor on Oahu that shows a positive net income figure for Fiscal Years 2016 through 2018 is the Ala Wai SBH ( 2,758,084.92;  1,540,854.18; and  555,261.00 respectively ).

These positive Net Income (Loss) figures are achieved despite 67 Tahiti Moor slips on the 800 row having been unavailable in 2018 (worth roughly 300,000 to the Ala Wai income line) and nearly a million dollars of Rental of Land and Wharf  that has disappeared from the FY 2017 and 2018 results.  (See highlights in attached AlaWaiYearOverYearRevenue.pdf for specifics.)

The inescapable conclusion is that the Ala Wai SBH is paying its way while every other harbor on Oahu is not.

What happens to these excess revenues collected from the Ala Wai tenants year after year?  Are they being used to subsidize the other harbors?  They certainly don't appear to be being used in maintenance of our harbor.

DLNR's own accounting shows that there is no need for a rate increase at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor.  Rather, several underway projects - 800 row and 600 row repairs - need to be completed bringing 70+ additional slips online.  The additional slips will provide mooring revenues and parking revenues.  Parking revenues will result assuming that no ferris-wheel or amusement park is constructed which consumes the parking spaces.

Respectfully submitted,

Bruce B.


Public Testimony
From: Alan M., Honolulu
Subject: Chapter 13-234, Hawaii Administrative Rules

To an island state, there can be nothing more precious than it’s shoreline management. I’ll let others speak to the history of neglect visited upon our small boat harbors.

My most recent concern is in the seemingly arbitrary and capricious manner in which the latest fee increase has been proposed. Well-managed private organizations that understand that the backbone of solvency lies with responsible fiscal analysis will perform accurate due diligence before implementing a fee increase of the magnitude that we are seeing in §13-234.

Prudence demands the careful management of project-anticipated revenues and defines where those revenues might be best used to maintain and improve the asset value. No such cash-flow analysis took place before the above referenced fee increase was requested. In an email exchange with Ed Underwood, nearly a year ago, I asked if a state-wide “Master Plan” existed for the administration of the additional revenue. He replied that no such plan existed and there was no intent to develop one in the future. Forgive me, but the “squeaky wheel” system falls far short of effective revenue management. In the same email exchange, Mr. Underwood went on to write that allocations for maintenance & repair MIGHT be increased IF, DOBOR was unable to hire 35% more staff. In his stated view, this ‘left-over’ revenue would likely not be enough for capital improvement projects. Put another way, “We’ll hire a bunch of people, and continue to use the maintenance system that has so obviously failed for the last 30 or 40 years.”

“State-wide, there is no master plan for the allocation of [additional revenues like, for example, the windfall from public harbor fee increases . . .  .]”   Ed Underwood, DOBOR Administrator

In my opinion an effective management staff studies and projects the impact, both negative and positive, of a substantial (and sudden) rate increase. Such a study would undertake to answer several vital questions, including:

1.) If DOBOR is successful in doubling the fees and our annual revenue goes from $20 million a year to $30 or 40 million, where will that extra income be most effectively used?

2.) What are the negative (unintended) consequences of this fee increase? How many boats will be abandoned and stop paying fees altogether? How many vessels will sink as a direct result of the owners walking away from them? At tens-of-thousands of dollars each, how many boats will be raised from the bottom and crushed? One? Ten? A hundred? Three hundred? No one knows.

3.) What is the average length of time between a boat being abandoned and the state removing it from the harbor? What will happen to that average delay if there are a hundred or more boats occupying slips that are no longer paying any rent, let alone the new higher rates?

4.) What kind of damage can we expect to our harbor waters and reefs if the number of sunken boats should suddenly increase dramatically?

5.) If it costs $30,000 to raise a single sunken boat, crush it, and send it to our landfill, how will the increase in costs affect the revenue anticipated?

6.) Other coastal states have used boats to create artificial ocean habitat. Is this a better idea than crushing tons of fiberglass that never deteriorates and dumping it into our already stressed landfills?

7.) Has Mr. Underwood (or anyone else) developed a plan to bring the state harbors up to minimum conventional harbor standards with fuel docks, pump-out stations, or even the most basic harbor features such as printed harbor rule book, wind socks, weather flags, radio monitoring, Coast Guard liaison, or available work docks?

In a November 20th article, the Star Advertiser quoted DLNR’s stated charter this way: “The law gives the board discretion to set [rates] at levels that serve the state’s interests but does not require that they reflect fair market value.”

“The law gives the board discretion to set [rates] at levels that serve the state’s interests but does not require that they reflect fair market value.”

Given that the rate increase requested perfectly tracks the (flawed) appraisal, DOBOR clearly gave zero weight to serving the state’s interest. Recognizing the jurisdictional issues, I believe public parks, public beaches, nature preserves, and perhaps the best example, public golf courses, quite clearly illustrate the concept of serving the public good.The fee increase requested is precisely what the appraisal recommended. It seems clear enough that harbor administrators paid little heed to that portion of their charter that specifically requires they set fees at levels that “serve the state’s interests”.

Apparently unsure if even these NEW rates could sustain DOBOR operations, Mr. Underwood, stated that future CIP would depend on the legislature allocating additional investments from the general fund. So, even a doubling of fees may not be enough to support DOBOR’s anticipated personnel overhead. So while the average for-profit harbor might employ from one to three employees, DOBOR claims it needs 150 employees. Keep in mind that over 80% of boats using state harbors are in just FOUR harbors. The remaining fourteen harbors average fewer than 30 vessels. The absurdity of increasing DOBOR personnel from the current $6 million/yr to $9 million to administer 2 large, 2 medium and 14 very small harbors is manifest. Taking Underwood at his word, the new personnel budget would eclipse the $6 million spent on maintenance in any given year. Does Hawaii need more harbor micro-managing? Or does it need better harbors?


Public Testimony
From: Ryan R., Honolulu
Subject: Chapter 13-234, Hawaii Administrative Rules

Such a large rate increase is very disruptive economically to long time boaters in the state. A small rate increase per year to adjust for inflation is a more reasonable thing to do.

Where the additional funds will be spent has not been explained adequately. Why does DOBOR need these funds? The justification Ed Underwood gave to increase staff is not good. If staffing is the justification, job titles and responsibilities should be shared with the public for these new hires. DOBOR should not be used as a cover for universal basic income. It is questionable whether the currently employed at this institution are being managed properly, let alone considering a staffing ramp up. DOBOR is ripe for efficiency improvements. A blaring example is the piles of duplicate paperwork boaters are required to fill out on a yearly basis. Adding more staff to this situation seems like a horrible idea.

Why price middle class people out of the harbors? By raising rates so drastically you are destroying the dream of boat ownership for many long time state residents.


Public Testimony
From: Thomas C., Ala Moana - Waikiki
Subject: Chapter 13-234, Hawaii Administrative Rules

Thank you for allowing me to voice my opinion about the proposal to raise slip fees, bathroom card-key fees, electrical fees, and others.

I am a permitted live aboard at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor.  I am a longtime resident of Hawaii, having come here as a teenager, and a graduate of the University of Hawaii.  I’m now retired and rely on a fixed income to pay for my living expenses. 

As we all know, the State of Hawaii has been struggling with affordable housing for quite some time.   The Section 8 options, both federal and State, are effectively closed to all but a few very needy families with children.  I think that we can all agree that affordable housing has become a crisis here in Hawaii.

Because of this we have one of the largest homeless populations in the United States. Living aboard one’s own vessel in the State harbor system is the last option for those of us who have been life-long residents of Hawaii and cannot afford the housing on offer. There is no safety net after the live aboard option.

Governor David Ige has made the affordable housing and the homelessness crises top priorities in his administration.

Granted, we normally don’t associate the harbor environment with the housing crisis in Hawaii. However, we are in a unique situation in this State. Our permitted live aboards depend on this arrangement to make it possible for them to afford housing.  In fact, in many cases, this is their only housing option. In order to earn this privilege, they have to wait many years in order to get a live aboard permit and then must come up with large sums of money, usually from savings, for the purchase of a suitable vessel and then still more money, to satisfy the harbor’s security deposits and first month's rent. As legal live aboards they have to conduct themselves appropriately in their neighborhood and take some responsibility for their surrounding community. Please do not confuse the behavior of the many illegal live aboards with that of those with permits.

I don’t have a history of being homeless.  Should the rates be raised, however, as is being suggested in this fee increase proposal, I will have no choice but to give up my slip at the Ala Wai and join the homeless population here.  My testimony is not intended to be drama.  There are an increasing number of us who have been left disenfranchised by a system that ignores the needs of those on less-than-ample incomes in Hawaii.  I know of at least three other harbor live aboard residents who will probably find themselves in the same predicament.

I ask that you put aside this proposal, for now, and form a committee made up of marina residents and agency representatives for the purpose of hammering out a proposal that truly addresses solutions for the harbor system while at the same time considers the wider realities of the community that we live in.  I would be more than happy to volunteer my time in order to be part of that process.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to my testimony.

Thomas C.


Public Testimony
From: Rich Stone, Honolulu (Mr. Stone asked that his last name be used)
Subject: Chapter 13-234, Hawaii Administrative Rules

As an Ala Wai Harbor Live Aboard for 10+ years I would like to comment on the Proposals Related to the Boat Harbor. I know you are getting many comments so I will leave out the emotions, of which there are many, and focus on the business.
Mahalo for reading and taking them into consideration.

RE: Proposed Increases

1) Electricity
While slips on the street pay a regular HECO bill the boats on the other docks pay flat fees regardless of consumption. Fair, is for everyone to be hooked up on an accurate system that measures individual use and pays accordingly. Why should a multi million dollar vessel pay the same price as a 23 foot boat using hardly any electricity?

2) Mooring Rates
How can anyone think it is fair for a 30' boat to pay the fees of a 35' or a 36' boat to pay same as a 41'? This system would not be fair to anyone.

3) Payment Schedule for Mooring Fees
Why is it necessary to change the payment due date? It will impact retirees and involves manpower by the harbor that can be used for higher priority projects.

4) Shower Fees
The fee for a key-card includes the use of the keyed bathrooms/showers. It is too difficult to monitor daily/monthly use: did a person go in to use the bathroom or take a shower?  How do you know? This is micro managing and is not needed.  Raise the key card fee by a nominal, realistic amount if necessary.

5) Dock Boxes
No one should be charged for a box that is in disrepair. No one should have to pay for a box that is not secure, waterproof or practical.

In addition I'd like to offer my opinion on the following:

Management of the Ala Wai Boat Harbor is abysmal. As hard as the Harbormaster and his office try, they are not equipped to get the job done. They get no support from the State.

1) Their systems are antiquated

2) Monies that can be used to upgrade facilities and repair docks (providing new revenue) never seem to find their way to the right places

3) There has been no attempt (last 10 years) to establish a Recycling Program; this would reduce the amounts of garbage and liquids in the dumpsters. It is the proper thing to do in today's world and it will provide income for those participating.

Mahalo again for your time
Rich Stone


Public Testimony
From: Mark W., Kailua, Oahu
Subject: Chapter 13-234, Hawaii Administrative Rules

The proposed harbor fee increases are fundamentally flawed on every level. I have had a slip in the Ala Wai for over 40 years and have tolerated the substandard conditions which are at an all time low these days. The harbor is so poorly administered that the third world would be embarrassed by its condition! The crime, the pollution, no pump out facility for a harbor with almost 1000 boats, the overall rundown conditions are disgraceful! In spite of all the empty slips and illegal livaboards the harbor still makes money.

It’s not increases that are needed it’s a complete administrative revamping of the running of the harbor! Two trans pac races ago Roy Disney a respected yachtsmen and business man wrote a scathing editorial on the deplorable conditions in the ala wai harbor which fell on deaf ears in our state. It’s time to man up and do the right thing. Make the Ala Wai a facility that would warrant some reasonable fee increases.

I wonder how many of you spend any time in the harbor and really know and understand the issues facing the boating community?


Public Testimony
Rachel S., Makiki, Oahu
Subject: Chapter 13-234, Hawaii Administrative Rules

The proposed new rates for slips, utilities and dock box are an outrage!

When I first got my slip 25 years ago, the Ala Wai was a choice location. It no longer is! Except for the BCD, G & F docks, the harbor is falling apart. There are so many condemned slips, that could be fixed and rented. There are other slips that have sat empty for years and could be rented. Each month, the revenue from these slips cannot be made up. Instead of fixing the problems with the excess money made by the Ala Wai, the slips are left empty and in disrepair! It makes no sense.

The bathrooms are disgusting! No locks, no paper, no mirror, no paper towel, but plenty of filth and bugs.

There is no security. Boats are being broken into on a regular basis. It’s a homeless and drug dealer paradise! There is no place to dump waste or get fuel in the Ala Wai. It is a poor excuse for a harbor! Raising rates is not going to solve the problem! Taking care of the harbor properly will. It is neglected and abused.

DLNR has fallen down on the job, and now they want to penalize the good people who pay their bills and keep their boats docked there. The amount you want to charge for docking and electricity is ludicrous. I have nothing to plug in on my boat. I haven’t used $50 worth of electricity in the 25 years I’m there.

Instead of punishing us, why not take a good hard look at the mismanagement of the Ala Wai, and correct it. Just filling the slips would bring in considerably more money.

Also, now we have that huge eye sore Navatek Maui, sitting in the Ala Wai. The pontoons of that boat are on the bottom of the harbor. When they first moved that monstrosity in, we could see the bottom. That is no longer true.

We have Transpac coming in this summer, and there have been no repairs to the 500 row. I personally am embarrassed by the condition of those docks. DON’T RAISE THE RATES. FIX THE ALA WAI! You guys at DLNR have created this mess by not taking care of business. This is on you guys, and you want to penalize us. LOOK IN THE MIRROR DLNR. WHO CAUSED THE PROBLEMS IN THE ALA WAI? IT WAS YOUR MISMANAGEMENT! If you don’t want to take care of it, find a consultant to help you with management, but don’t come in and raise rates for no reason!!
Rachel S.


Public Testimony
Mitch B., Honolulu
Subject: Chapter 13-234, Hawaii Administrative Rules


I'm forced to question whether your agency has performed good faith due diligence with regard to researching the proposed fee increase  at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor.  I question why you chose to use a multi-national mainland commercial real estate brokerage firm to perform the appraisal, rather than one of the numerous and reliable local appraisal firms; please note that several of the facts relied upon by CBRE are patently incorrect.

Thank you for your attention to this public comment.

Mitch B.



Public Testimony
Troy Lynch, Honolulu
Subject: Chapter 13-234, Hawaii Administrative Rules

Public Hearing, DLNR
Saturday, March 2, 2019
Aiea Elementary School
99-370 Moanalua Road

Aloha.  My name is Troy Lynch.  I’m currently a live-aboard at the Ala Wai Boat Harbor.

The purpose for writing is to humbly request that the slip fees remain the same.  Perhaps other ways of generating revenues, getting work done around the harbor, and keeping our overhead low are all things my current handyman skills may be able to assist in.

The only way I’ve been able to survive as a handyman is by keeping my overhead low, taking care of my customers on a regular basis with maintenance-repairs-building needs, and sharing lower prices with them.

The current slip fee which I’m being charged is something I can afford and which is one of the reason that drew me to the harbor in the first place.

I’ve got a good handle on my full schedule of handyman work; any increases are major for me and hard to off set.

Please consider keeping slip fees the same.


Troy Lynch
808SBEST-Handyman Services

(808) 398-7535

Public Testimony

Alvin Koo, Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor
Subject: Chapter 13-234, Hawaii Administrative Rules

Regarding proposed rate hikes for Oahu small boat harbors.  As I recall from past rate hikes, the Ala Wai Harbor is the cash cow of DOBAR, paying for all the small boat harbors in the system.  Yet, the Ala Wai has been neglected for years.  The woman's bathroom near Slip 90 has been unavailable for use for two years, the men's bath in the same building had the door broken, probably by homeless who use the facility often.  It too is non-useable.  The showers in the 700 row bathroom last about a day before they are broken.  One toilet was cracked entirely.  One toilet stall has no door.  It's been months.  Why should we pay higher rates for a non-working facility?  If the system cannot afford it, stop using the Ala Wai as a cash cow and let it pay for itself.  There are something like a thousand boats in the harbor.

Alvin K.


Public Testimony
PV, Honolulu
Subject: Chapter 13-234, Hawaii Administrative Rules

My Husband and I are both avid sailors and appreciate having our boat in Hawaii and being able to sail her here.

When I was the Port captain interim at WYC several years ago, it was very obvious there was a lot of money to be made on slip fees. That was the main revenue for the Club. I am sure we are not the only one to notice how much money is not being made nor being put back into our marina. There are an enormous number of slips that are not filled and a waiting list that remains. The process should be expedited to accommodate paying boat owners who want slips and will pay.

One thing I would like to say is that all fees collected from the Marina slip fees should stay in the Marina and not go into the General fund [Special Boating Fund]. It is ridiculous to think that our fees will ever be spent on the Marina repairs when there is so much corruption going on with General fund [Special Boating Fund] usage.

Also, Social Security has given us a 2% raise after working our entire lives and paying into the system. With rates being raised as proposed we will be working full time just to make ends meet in the future. Should the rates be raised, I think the same 2% raise would be appropriate with all monies collected from each Marina to be spent on the same Marina. All rates should be the same for all boaters. It was stated that there is a fuel dock, pumping station, security, and amenities as there are in KoOlina, which is false. Rate increases should not be based on false statements and the necessary amenities such as fuel should be restored.

The Ala Wai small boat harbor was deeded as such and should remain as such... a small boat harbor.  I'm sure the big developers would like to take the area, fill it in and put a lot of big hotels there.We should be allowed to enjoy the beauty that is here as much as anyone. There should be the same aloha given to us, the local residents as well as to our visitors.

Please do not vote to raise our fees as proposed. I'm sure that a compromise can be made in the future.

Mrs. PV

Public Testimony

Eric R., Honolulu
Subject: Chapter 13-234, Hawaii Administrative Rules
I live at the Ala Wai Harbor with my wife and two-year-old daughter.  I am writing in advance of tomorrow's meeting to ask that DOBOR representatives be prepared to give a forthright explanation to attendees of the meeting about the future plans for the Ala Wai, because DOBOR simply not been transparent in this regard.
DOBOR currently has its feet on two separate paths.  On the one hand, it has sought and received approval from BLNR to put out a request for bids for those wishing to "partner" with DOBOR to "improve" the harbor (similar to what Diamond Parking has done?).  DOBOR's plan is to develop condos and wedding chapels, and maybe even a ferris wheel, where the current harbor office stands, where the old fuel dock used to be, where the haul-out facility used to be.  It is not clear how such uses of the land fit within the harbors' purposes under HRS 200-9, which says that "[s]tate small boat harbors are constructed, maintained, and operated for the purposes of:
(1) Recreational boating activities;
(2) Landing of fish; and
(3) Commercial vessel activities

Setting aside that issue for now, DTL was hired by DOBOR to promote this effort in the community.  I attended the meetings put on by DTL, and they were simply a waste of everyone's time who attended.  We were handed pictures of fish, living coral reefs, koa canoes, etc., and asked to write pretty thoughts about the Ala Wai on pieces of paper, based on the pretty pictures, that were thrown in the trash after the meeting.  Anyone who wished to speak was swiftly cut off, and the meeting  abruptly ended to everyone's surprise and anger.  Every detail of the meeting was highly controlled by DTL's experts and the picture that was presented to the many cameras in the room was that the public was really having a chance to shape the "vision" of the Ala Wai's future.  However, any actual concern that was raised was written down on a "Parking Lot" piece of paper to end discussion of that topic, and thrown in the trash post-meeting.  This is not the way to treat the people who pay your salaries, simply put. Since that meeting (a second similar meeting was also held), there has been essentially ZERO maintenance of the Ala Wai.

The 800 Row is completely shut down because DOBOR botched the contract to repair it, elsewhere in the harbor hundreds of slips are broken and/or empty, the bathrooms are overrun by homeless who destroy them and DOBOR's solution is to just close the bathrooms, docks are being condemned left and right, the wait list is at a stand-still, condemned boats occupy slips for years and years, and the harbor has essentially been abandoned by DOBOR (save for Cory Fujioka, who deserves to be Harbor Master if not already for his efforts--day, night or hurricane--to keep the harbor functioning).

What we have been witnessing over the past year or so appears to be an intentional effort to let the harbor degrade to a point where everyone will agree that DOBOR cannot handle it on its own.  DOBOR's incompetence and total neglect of the harbor actually helps its efforts toward privatization, and this is apparently its strategy.  Indeed, DTL (I suspect) was having articles published in the paper soon after its meetings to emphasize DOBOR's incompetence in order to suggest that privatization is the only option.  See e.g., "Floating Along In A Mismanaged Harbor, Honolulu Star Bulletin, April 25, 2018.

Separately, DOBOR now seeks a comprehensive change to its own rules to, among other things, significantly increase slip fees.  However, no slip fee increase should go forward unless and until DOBOR accounts for the money that it has been collecting from Ala Wai permittees, which are required to be spent only on the harbors and not on any other DLNR purpose.  One obvious question that will come up tomorrow is, where has the money that is currently being collected going?  See HRS 200-8 ("[A]ny fees collected within small boat harbors shall be expended only for costs related to the operation, upkeep, maintenance, and improvement of the small boat harbors.").  Clearly, none of the money that DOBOR has collected has gone toward maintaining the Ala Wai.

There are many other issues to discuss tomorrow with respect to the proposed rule changes (e.g., the proposed new rules do not provide for a schedule A and B for mooring fees in violation of Section 200-10 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, "[t]he moorage fees shall be set by appraisal categories schedule A and schedule B, to be determined by the department and may be increased annually ... to reflect a cost-of-living increase" and "Schedule A shall include existing mooring permittees[.]" and "Schedule B shall apply to all new mooring applicants....").

However, I want to raise a few questions now, ahead of the meeting, so that DOBOR has a heads up that we need real answers to the following questions to understand DOBOR's various proposals: 

1) What are DOBOR's real intentions with respect to the Ala Wai? 

2) What is the current status of efforts toward privatization/development?

3) Why is DOBOR seeking to increase fees while also seeking to hand control of the harbor to a third party?

4) Why is a slip fee increase needed when obviously no money is being spent and the harbor is effectively abandoned? 

5) Where has the money that is currently being collected going? 

6) What measures are in place to ensure that, going forward, money collected from harbor residents is used in ways that complies with the law.

7) Why should anyone believe that money will be spent on the Ala Wai post-fee increase if no money is being spent their currently (if the answer is we don't have enough money, then please bring documents showing where all the money has been going).  

I hope that you can understand the frustration of all of the Ala Wai permittees with the lack of transparency and apparent disregard for the effects that DOBOR's actions will have on the place we call home.  The feeling that corruption is at play somewhere in this picture is inescapable.  In light of various federal investigations of Hawaii officials and/or agencies that are taking place currently in Hawaii, transparency is probably DOBOR's best choice.
Erik R.

Public Testimony

Bruce B., Honolulu
Subject: Chapter 13-234, Hawaii Administrative Rules, Fees and Charges

When DLNR starts paying me and all the other Ala Wai SBH liveaboards a DOCARE salary for providing the security that they do not provide, I might reconsider their proposed doubling of moorage rates as being justified.  At least then I could afford them. Until that time, I question the DLNR's business acumen at doubling the price of a product (moorage) while the product's quality decays year after year.

I offer the following as the most recent evidence of this decay: When:  Wednesday, March 6, 2019, at approximately 4:42 AM Where: Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor, 600-700 Row Toilets, Card Access Side of the Men's Toilets Because this sign was posted on all the toilet doors around the marina on Monday afternoon...



... I went to take care of my morning ablutions earlier than usual, hoping to beat the rush. After using my access card to enter the toilet, I found 4 homeless men with their stuff spread out all over the toilet.  One guy was sorting the contents of his rucksack on the floor in front of the toilet stalls, one guy had his stuff spread out over the wash basin area with his bicycle blocking the entrance to the shower area.  Two guys were showering. The guy with the bicycle is a well known harbor homeless guy - his first name is Ted.  Ted was evicted from the Ala Wai harbor roughly 6-9 months prior.  He said his boat is now at Ke'ehi Small Boat Harbor.  Ted still has his Ala Wai toilet access card, though. I told Ted to leave.  He didn't.  I called 911 (4:47 AM).  The 911 operator said that she would send an officer.  I thanked her and went outside to wait in my car.

While waiting for the police, I decided that I should at least try to contact DOCARE (the DLNR cops).  I knew that they wouldn't be open, and they weren't.  HPD showed up while I was listening to the DOCARE "our-normal-hours-are" recording - I hung up.  Eventually 4 police cars and 4 officers arrived. I told the police of my experience with the current occupants of the toilets and opened the door for them.  HPD doesn't have an access card.

The homeless folks left over then next 15 minutes.  Because Ted still has his access card, the police couldn't determine whether he should have access or not.  He claimed he was a long-time harbor resident and even has a mailbox.  Interestingly, despite his protestations, he left.

I went in, used the toilet and showered.  I didn't see HPD leave.  I didn't ask for the names of the responding officers.

Bruce B.

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