Hawaii Ocean News Submits Public Testimony on Bills That Would Privatize Public Assets

We Oppose SB1257 and HB1032 - These Bills Set Dangerous Precedents

Handing Corporations Our Public Assets Would Be a Shocking Betrayal of Public Trust

(Editor's Note:  this article, along with the latest petition and Galt's in-depth analysis of the privatization plan, was sent to all of the legislators noted below.)


Katherine Lindell

Honolulu, Hawaii

April 22, 2019, 8:30 A.M.

Intended for conference hearing on Tuesday, March 23, 2019, 10:30 A.M., State Capitol, Conference Room 312 (HB1032 and SB1257)  

In consideration of





IMPORTANT NOTE:  Because the legislature has been caught selectively discarding inconvenient testimony regarding the consideration of SB1257 and HB1032, during past committee hearings on these topics -- a violation of Sunshine Laws -- we are publishing this most recent testimony, regarding these same bills, here below.

This testimony is intended, specifically, for the following legislators:



Rep. David A. Tarnas:  808-586-8510; reptarnas@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Sen. Sharon Y. Moriwaki: 808-586-6740;  senmoriwaki@capitol.hawaii.gov

Rep. Ryan Yamane:  808-586-6150; repyamane@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Rep. Nicole E. Lowen:  808-586-8400; replowen@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Rep. Chris Todd:  808-586-8480; reptodd@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Rep. Cynthia Thielen:  808-586-6480; repthielen@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Sen. Kaiali'i Kahele:  808-586-6760; senkkahele@capitol.hawaii.gov

Sen. Gilbert Keith-Agaran:  808-586-7344; senkeithagaran@capitol.hawaii.gov

Sen. Kurt Fevella:  808-586-6360; senfevella@capitol.hawaii.gov   



We have added this statement to our Testimony, posted here.  This UPDATE was sent, along with our Testimony below, via email to each of the legislators listed below on Monday, April 22, 2019 and Tuesday, April 23, 2019.

The underpinnings of SB1257 finds its basis in fraudulent representation of DOBOR spreadsheet information, undermining the credibility of this bill.  Proceeding with the manipulation of the verbiage within the bill, completely ignoring its disingenuous origin, is a clear dereliction of your responsibility to the people of Hawaii.

At the brief meeting that was to address HB1032 and SB1257 today, Ed Underwood has admitted that he did NOT read, in its entirety, the appraisal upon which new harbor fees were to have been based, admitted he had no intention of vetting it for accuracy, and finally, admitted that he was going to use the appraisal anyway, despite legislative conclusions to the contrary.  This statement was made and duly recorded by an attendee there today (State Capitol, Conference Room 312 (HB1032 and SB1257 hearings), 10:30 A.M., April 23, 2019).

Mr. Underwood and his staff have proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are wholly incapable of managing the State of Hawaii’s public harbor system.  They have consistently and repeatedly failed to uphold Hawaii State law (HRS 200-10(c)(4), resulting in a fiscal nightmare for harbor public properties. 

There is only one discussion among legislators that should be had at the Wednesday, April 24, 2019 meeting in Room 312, regarding SB1257 and HB1032, and that is this: 1) how to expedite the process of removing Ed Underwood from his post as DoBOR administrator, and finding a suitable replacement as soon as possible; 2) limiting the DLNR’s range of authority regarding the administration of public harbors, requiring more legislative oversight of rule-making that impacts quality of life issues for tenants therein.  

The rest of these two pieces of legislation is superfluous, for reasons now suggesting fraud and misrepresentation, as stated in numerous of our testimonies, and the testimonies of hundreds of the public (many of which were comments forwarded to each of you via a recent petition), as well as on-record testimony by commercial advocacy for ocean recreation businesses opposing these ideas.

Ladies and gentlemen, you are here to do the will of the people, and not to pander to private interests, nor use the dais to fulfill your private agenda, or the agenda of proven misguided agency heads like Ed Underwood and Suzanne Case, two individuals, I might remind you, who have lied, on the record, to legislators in recent previous committee hearings.

Do the right thing for the people of Hawaii.



HON Testimony Regarding H.B.1032

All of you have received our detailed rationale for the opposition of these bills in prior testimonies, so we won't rehash them here.

Allowing the privatization of public assets effortlessly communicates to the public that the government of the State of Hawaii has not the common sense, business acumen, nor desire to properly manage the public assets entrusted to its custodianship.

Additionally, all residents in the State of Hawaii are at risk when those chosen to lead demonstrate a clear inability to manage public lands and assets.   Privatization is nothing more than collusion between State leadership and private, for profit industry, for the purpose of usurping public assets for private gain. 

Handing public lands and assets over to for-profit financial self interest is a disgusting betrayal of public trust, and each and every one of you who participates in this kind of manipulation is guilty of defrauding the public.

SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING HB1032: The tenants at the privatized Kewalo Basin State Marina have just received notice from Howard Hughes Corporation that slip fees will again be increased.  This is the second such increase within a one-year period.  The first increase doubled tenant rates immediately, despite HH Corp reps suggestion that increases would be minimal at that harbor.  There was a second increase on this past Monday.  For-profit corporations exist to make as much money as they can. This mission is not consistent with administration of public assets or lands.


HON Testimony Regarding S.B.1257

All of you have received our detailed rationale for the opposition of these bills in prior testimonies, so we won't rehash them here.

The underpinnings of SB1257 finds its basis in fraudulent representation of DOBOR spreadsheet information, undermining the credibility of this bill.  Proceeding with the manipulation of the verbiage within the bill, completely ignoring its disingenuous origin, is a clear dereliction of your responsibility to the people of Hawaii.

There is simply no basis-in-fact for this legislation.  If you would have taken the time to talk to people who actually do have experience with the day-to-day operation of our harbor system, you would have quickly become knowledgeable of this.  Ignorance is never a good criterion for reviewing legislation.  Those of you who have not taken the time to do your homework are guilty.

DLNR Chair, Suzanne Case’s testimony regarding this bill is a blatant lie, which many of you bought into, purely out of ignorance.

Here are the actual facts, from people with ten or more years as permitted liveaboards at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor:

There are no (as in zero) value-added amenities for those with legal liveaboard permits.  To wit:

Private bathrooms? Anyone can get a card-key.  No one who lives aboard uses them because of their deplorable condition and because of the danger of illegal access by drug-addicted homeless and the hordes of illegal liveaboards.

Utilities? Paid for separately by everybody, liveaboard and regular tenant alike.

Wear and tear on public facilities? Any wear and tear that occurs only impacts the individual private vessel that is being used for the residence; otherwise, there is no more 'wear and tear' than that caused by any other regular tenant.

Processing a liveaboard? fractionally little more than processing a regular tenant.

Security? It is a well known fact that the DLNR cannot provide security for its harbor system. HPD does what it can at the behest of the neighborhood watch groups in the harbor, which are the sole eyes and ears of security in the harbor system.

The question of accounting method for the basis of harbor fee increases has already been legislated and passed, (RS 200-10(c)(4).  That this method was ignored by DOBOR, despite being law, is an indictment of DOBOR itself and not the existing method as outlined by law.

Passing S.B.1257 in the face of these above facts indicates your deliberate ignorance.   

Additionally, legislators need to clearly address the question of why this legislation has even surfaced.  If privatization of our public harbors, submerged and fast lands, is the goal of the DLNR, DOBOR, and supporting legislators, then why waste legislative time hearing a bill that sets rate increases in the hands of public agencies that will no longer be concerning themselves with the management of these same properties?  Or, is this legislation, in fact, designed to prepare the harbor system for privatization?

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to testify.

Katherine Lindell
Honolulu, Hawaii

Cc:  Please note attached Petition and in-depth Galt analysis of privatization rationale.



Our response to Senator Moriwaki's recent email:

Dear Sen. Moriwaki,

With all due respect, this issue is only "complicated" if one chooses to make it so.  Background: legislation, for decades, has determined that the fee increase rate shall be fixed at 5% per year (HRS 200-10(c)(4).  For some reason, this has never actually been implemented (any ideas why?). Now, it's 2019, decades later, DOBOR never did its job properly, so now all public boat harbor tenants must suffer the consequences of poor public harbor fiscal management.

First of all, we've been asked to believe that the reason for the shortfall that prompts this legislation is because of inadequate revenue.  However, there has been sufficient evidence to suggest that the shortfall actually doesn't exist and that DOBOR leaders have carefully created a spreadsheet mirage for legislators in order to get same to do their bidding.  They're succeeding so far.  

However, a recent in-depth analysis done recently, on DOBOR-provided spreadsheets, clearly points to gross fiscal mismanagement as the culprit, and not innocent profit-loss numbers.  The AWSBH has been consistently profitable over the years, for example, this past year pulling down nearly $2.5 million dollars in excess revenue.  Three other State harbor properties were also profitable, each showing gains in the half-million dollar range.  However, 11 harbors in the system have consistently been operating in the red, for years on end, without remediation -- without so much as even an attempt at remediation.  The AWSBH and the three other profitable harbor properties have become cash cows, creating a short-term rationale for some level of DOBOR solvency. 

Given this very prominent history of blatant State (DOBOR) fiscal mismanagement of public harbor properties, legislating methods of drastic fee increase and then placing them back in the hands of the very same agency, DOBOR, that caused the fiscal shortfalls in the first place, can only be a recipe for further mismanaged funds.  Giving an incompetent agency the tools with which to further mismanage harbor revenues is a gross disservice to the public, and an insult to the intelligence of Hawaii's public.

Please, this is a very silly piece of legislation that has clearly not been well researched nor well thought through at this time.  Shelve this legislation, and work together, with a knowledgeable public, on putting together a solid fiscal plan for our harbors, as well as a solid plan for fiscal management.

Katherine Lindell


Senator Moriwaki's original message:

Aloha All

 I know you are all concerned about the increase in liveaboard fees in SB1257. You have your networks and can represent their concerns so I’m asking for your assistance as I propose what might work but it will need compromise.  Legislation is always about compromise of interests. DOBOR wants to use a common standard – FMV --and boaters don’t want fees increased.    There are arguments for both sides so it’s difficult to find a compromise but that is what is needed. The bill originally set the fees at appraised value; it was amended to cap it at no more than 50% per year.

 I’ve been trying to work with colleagues and DOBOR to incrementally increase fees to FMV assessment (as some have said the FMV might be low for some years as the AWSBH is in such disrepair and in need of maintenance).  Given that fees have not been raised since 1991, the monthly fees are low and so it is unreasonable not to have an increase in fees.    What DOBOR is looking for is a standard appraisal that applies to the entire AWSBH so using the appraisal method for the entire harbor is what is the most efficient approach. But because your liveaboard fees have not been increased over the tenure of your permit, it may be quite a large increase (or not) so allowing for incremental increases as the harbor improves is the best compromise. The biggest increase would be in the first year of the appraisal so the simplest method is to take the difference between what you currently pay and the appraisal amount and capping the increase at a reasonable amount. The proposal by DOBOR was no more than 50%. What would that come out to be for each of you? Please LMK. 

I would like to see how this applies to individual liveaboard permittees:

Size of your boat – current liveaboard fee -




This is crucial legislation that will forever impact access to public lands, submerged, fast, and dry, because of the precedent that it sets.  Please contact your legislators below.

Contact your legislators here:

Phone Numbers:
Sen. Sharon Y. Moriwaki: 808-586-6740
Rep. David A. Tarnas (he listens):  808-586-8510
Rep. Ryan Yamane:  808-586-6150
Rep. Nicole E. Lowen:  808-586-8400
Rep. Chris Todd:  808-586-8480 
Rep. Cynthia Thielen:  808-586-6480
Sen. Kaiali'i Kahele:  808-586-6760
Sen. Gilbert Keith-Agaran:  808-586-7344
Sen. Kurt Fevella:  808-586-6360
Email addresses:  


Practically speaking, what does this mean when we say that this legislation will set a shocking precedent?

Implications now: it means that State agencies like the DLNR and DOBOR, already having demonstrated a complete disregard for the public assets that they were charged with managing, will now be able to hand over every public small boat harbor in the State of Hawaii over to for-profit private interests.  Let that sink in for a moment.

Implications for the near future: The precedent that these bills --  especially 1032 -- set for future handling of all public assets is shocking.  Once the legislature pulls the trigger on this kind of legislation, it will be a very small leap to allow for the privatization of any public lands, including submerged.  What does this mean?  Say, the Hilton Hawaiian decides to lease the submerged lands in front of its hotel in Waikiki.  No problem, now that the precedent is in place. This would theoretically mean that they could control the world class surf spots out in front, with guests getting first priority.  Did I hear you say you'd crash the party and go out anyway.  Good luck. The private police force patrolling the lineup will be checking for your special QR coded bracelet-pass. No pass, no surf.

You say that will never happen?  That's what they said twenty years ago about privatizing the public harbor system.  But we're here, now.

You say you'll protest . . .  maybe even get a little crazy?  Too late.  When it's a law on the books, the police and all enforcement have a responsibility to enforce the law. There will be a lot of people getting hurt. Wrong time to protest.  Now is the time to stop this nonsense, before this kind of self-serving precedent gets started, before this silly idea becomes law, on the books.

The following was the message that was hand-delivered by activists to legislators on Thursday, April 18th, 2019.

Public Harbors should remain PUBLIC and should not be handed to corporations for PRIVATE gain.  Representing this legislation as being needed to fill fiscal voids is a misrepresentation of its true purpose, which is to prepare our public harbor for conveyance to private interests.

Members of the PUBLIC are STRONGLY OPPOSED to

S.B. 1257, and H.B. 1032.


S.B. 1257 begins by deleting any reference to “a cost-of-living index increase” with respect to mooring fees, disregarding any consideration for making recreational boating available to the average Hawaii citizen on average income.  The Ala Wai Harbor is a “public” marina, set aside for the people of Hawaii as per the Kaiser Indenture and, as such, should continue to be accessible to all of Hawaii’s boating community, on all economic scales. Deliberately setting unrealistic fee rates in our public harbors patently discriminates against average- and lower-income boaters.

In addition to mooring fee increases, S.B. 1257 would allow for exponential increases in fees currently paid by those who legally live aboard their boats the Ala Wai and Keehi Small Boat Harbors (50% per year, forever, increases that far exceed the cost-of-living index), receiving nothingin exchange, except freedom from fear of getting caught during very infrequent raids that occur at night. 

It is clear from public statements and media releases by DOBOR that bid proposals are currently being entertained which would allow for the privatization of this public harbor facility.  The timing of SB1257 coinciding with DOBOR's request for proposals could be perceived as a vehicle of preparation for the anticipated bid process (i.e., to provide a large income-stream-bargaining-chip for use in direct negotiations with private entities).  The timing of S.B. 1257 offers another, equally enticing carrot for DOBOR to hold out to potential private developers—namely, to offer a harbor that is nearly devoid of liveaboards (having been driven out by much higher fees). Why? When the harbor changes hands, and there are liveaboards there, regular tenant/landlord State laws apply, making the managing of 129 liveaboards a potential nightmare for the new lessee.

H.B. 1032 (related bill) and DOBOR’s current request for proposals (see Honolulu Star Bulletin April 9, 2019) indicates DOBOR’s true intent with respect to the Harbor, and the lack of any intent to use increased slip fees to actually perform maintenance or improvements.  The true intent of all of DOBOR’s current efforts (S.B. 1257 included) is to SELL our PUBLIC HARBORS

S.B. 1257purports to do one thing – innocently raise rates to keep up with alleged expenses – while its actual intent is to accomplish the far different goal of paving the road to private management and commercialization of Public Lands. 

Is this good-faith law-making?


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 the first step in "clearing out" the State's largest public harbor by requesting huge increases in liveaboard fees there, with the obvious intent of preparing the Ala Wai for handover to a new, 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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