Hawaii’s “Wild-Eyed” Public Harbor Plan Will Cost Lives and Property

DoBOR's Underwood has become dangerous to the community and needs to be removed from his position immediately . . . before he gets someone killed

The DLNR's Suzanne Case needs to stop hiding and admit to the monster in the room

While the facts cited in this article are backed by references, commentary herein represents the opinion of the author

(Note to reader: clicking on a reference link in this article will open a new tab in your browser so that you can read the reference at your leisure without interrupting your current read of this article)


In his wild-eyed head-long rush to retaliate against some boaters who have opposed recent draconian DLNR/DoBOR rulemaking, DoBOR's Underwood is now gearing his harbor agents up to force all boaters out of Hawaii's public harbors four times a year in order to "make them use their boats."  He is doing this with the full blessing of the DLNR'S Chair, Suzanne Case, who rules from a closed-door office environment that has kept the public at bay for years.

While it is always nice to see boaters using their boats, it's a bad idea -- and extremely dangerous -- to create and enforce a rule that makes them do that, holding them to specific dates.  The rule, part of the misguided tenure of then DLNR Chair, Laura Theilen, was never actually implemented upon its inception because, 1) harbormasters, Statewide, opposed it because it would create an administrative nightmare -- the Ala Wai's Ken Chee, at the time, called the rule "asinine" -- and 2) it represented an extremely dangerous precedent that had, in the hands of DoBOR's marine-environment-clueless harbor agents, the very real potential to cause injury and the loss of life and property.


A boat owner forced out of the harbor four times a year on or around specific dates will:

1) Face the very real possibility that the maritime conditions will be dangerous at the time he/she is forced to leave the harbor and out into Hawaii's ocean environment.  For example, more than a few vessels at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor have ended up on the rocks at Magic Island because of kona conditions, heavy easterly-quarter winds, massive swells from the south, or storm conditions.  In this situation, the DLNR and DoBOR will have blood on their hands.

2) Some boat owners may not be able to meet the four-times-yearly mandate because of illness, travel, or because their  boat is undergoing repairs.  The way the rule is written, these boaters, through no fault of their own, will be expelled from the harbor for not meeting one or more of the deadlines.

3) Some boaters are brand new skippers and require the assistance of more experienced mariners in order to take their boat out into Hawaii's coastal ocean environment.  It is difficult, at best, to muster help, but to find qualified help on specific dates, four times a year, would be nearly impossible and would result in expulsion of affected boaters from Hawaii's public harbor system.


But that's the whole idea . . .

Of course, emptying Hawaii's publicly-owned harbors of its average-Joe tenancy has, all along, been the true endgame.  There is a lot at stake here.  For one, the likes of Ed Underwood, Suzanne Case and Senator Sharon Moriwaki are under intense pressure from powerful  multinational interests to hand over publicly owned harbors to private corporations who will then, under a new law, make these public properties private property, for one hundred years . . .  for the exclusive use of the wealthy.  Underwood, Case, and Moriwaki, especially, have a lot to gain if they can pull this off . . . we suspect that their back-pocket rewards will be crazy-lucrative.

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2 years ago

I have often wondered if there are any other States where the recreational harbors are so totally controlled by the legislature and the governor. I suspect that there are many legislature members who have never seen the Ala Wai. Governor Lingle offered the harbors to the counties saying they need to be closer to the people. A big State bureaucracy is ill equipped to handle a small business like a harbor.. Your energy would be of better use in finding a better way, not just throwing gas on the fire. The State has been trying to get out of the small boat harbor business for at least thirty years I know of. They are Hell bent on making our lives difficult until we work with them to make a better future for our kids. Stop fighting and work on a solution. There has been a endless parade of State harbor administrators and the song never changes. Elephants can not dance!

Katherine Lindell
2 years ago

The problem with “offering alternatives” is that there first needs to be a willingness to listen. We’ve made, what we’ve felt, were very workable suggestions to the DLNR about how the State could get out from under its public harbor management, without turning public property into private property. We’ve never received so much as an acknowledgement of receipt. It is our contention that players within Hawaii’s government, like Underwood, Case, Sens. Dela Cruz and Moriwaki, have much to gain should they succeed in handing over public properties to multinational corporate interests who have been waiting for this opportunity for years. This would handily account for their unwillingness to listen to alternatives.