WE OPPOSE S.B. 1257 – Hawaii Ocean News S.B.1257 Testimony

Please Do Not Allow the Privatizing of Public Assets


Regarding S.B1257
(Relating to Use Permits for Small Boat Harbor Facilities)

To Our Legislature Conferees:

Rep. Ryan Yamane
Rep. Chris Todd
Rep. Cynthia Thielen
Senator Keith-Agaran
Senator Sharon Moriwaki
Senator Kaiali'i Kahele
Senator Kurt Fevella

The staff at Hawaii Ocean News strongly opposes S.B.1257


Hawaii’s public harbors are public lands and assets. Fee structures have already been determined by federal and State laws: COLA- based increases are usual and customary for public entities across the board.  The State legislature has already determined that State harbor fee increases shall be held to 5% per annum (HRS 200-10(c)(4).  Adjusting fee rates by appraisal is customarily done for commercial and private properties. Appraiser appointee, CBRE, in Honolulu, is primarily engaged in the business of large-scale commercial real estate and not in the business of appraising public harbors.   If it is the intent of this committee to prepare Hawaii’s public harbors for private takeover, then Conferees should say so.  Otherwise, this bill’s verbiage misrepresents its true intent, and this becomes bad-faith legislating. 

On this topic: why is it, in fact, that the legislature is even considering a measure about fee increases in public harbors when it is simultaneously aware of, a) HB1032, a measure asking for unrestricted privatization of same and, b) fully aware of the DoBOR's advanced-stages progress to accomplish the same?  If the public harbor system is soon to be privatized, wouldn't fee rates be determined by the new, private lessee? One might be tempted to think so. There is, then, only one inescapable conclusion: SB1257 is designed to give DoBOR some bargaining power during bidding.

Regarding the section concerning liveaboard fee increases:

The liveaboard fee is the elephant in the room, the skeleton in the closet of State of Hawaii rule-making.  Liveaboards receive no more amenities than regular harbor tenants, yet they are forced to pay a hefty fee.  There is a ton of credible evidence on this point, evidence that all of you already have in your hands, and we will not pursue it further here except to say that the fee should be rescinded completely.  Right now, this fee is nothing more than creepy State-sponsored protection racketeering, at its most heinous.

Instead of wasting taxpayers' time with silly, disingenuous legislation like this, there should be proactive initiatives in the legislature, in partnership with public consultation, to track down the reasons why Suzanne Case’s DLNR and Ed Underwood’s DoBOR have failed so miserably in the management of our public harbor system, Statewide.  Recent case-in-point (2019):  the DLNR/DoBOR maintenance/repair flub at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor has cost the Special Boating Fund nearly $200,000 in wasted revenue, yet these agencies continue to demand that boaters pay still more money (Chapter 13-234) for so-called “use” fees to replenish this same fund  (Reference: the Coconut Wireless/Ala Wai 800-pier debacle in February of this year).

As many of our readers have already stated in their petition reactions regarding this issue (now in your hands): Enough!

Respectfully submitted,
Katherine Lindell, Editor
Hawaii Ocean News



What's Going On

Hawaii's legislature seems determined to set a precedent that will allow the unfettered leasing of Hawaii's public-owned submerged and fast lands to for-profit corporations, beginning with all of Hawaii's publicly held harbors.  HB 1032 will face a final vote soon.  HB 1032 states: " . . . Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the board may lease any existing state boating facility in its entirety, and fast lands and submerged lands within [an] any existing state boating facility, by public auction, a request for proposals, or by direct negotiation . . . ."

SB1257 is nothing more than a preliminary step in the privatization process; DOBOR has stated on record that it intends to hand over the Ala Wai -- and later, other public harbors -- to the highest bidding, private, for-profit corporate lessee.

Please do not allow the passage of this irresponsible legislation.  If these bills pass, a new precedent will be set allowing the eventual leasing of all of Hawaii's publicly held lands and assets, submerged, fast and dry lands.

Please let your voice be heard.  Hawaii is about its people, not about the individual agendas of the private financial self-interests that are ruining Hawaii now.

Please join us in opposing these bills, and ones like them, forever.  Please sign the petition below and let your voice be heard (Please Note: iPetitions.com provides this service to us for free.  When you submit your signature, it will as for a donation.  This is entirely voluntary and will not affect your entry):

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