I strongly oppose two of the mayor’s proposals that he put forth this year: the increase in the non-resident admission fee from $3 to $5; and related proposal to shift both the income from concessions at Hanauma Bay and all income from parking fees out of the Hanauma Bay special fund and into the City & County general fund. Both proposals that are being considered by the Honolulu City Council.
I have testified before the Council and its Committees on a number of occasions on the subject of the Hanauma Bay Improvements Project, mostly in support of the plan that was ultimately approved by the Council in November 1999.
But my most recent testimony on this subject, last August, concerned the shameful cost overruns and mismanagement of the project by the Harris Administration. I am sorry to say that I am once again in the position of a critic.
In addition to having been President of the Friends of Hanauma Bay through the period in which the project was proposed by the administration and approved by the Council, I was also a member and a co-facilitator of the Hanauma Bay Improvements Task Force commissioned by Mayor Jeremy Harris in June 1999 to review the initial project proposal (which had encountered strong public opposition).
So I am quite familiar with the tortured history of this project. I should note here that, like most residents, I am quite pleased with the new facility that ultimately emerged from this process. The process itself, however, left a great deal to be desired — and judging by the proposal before the Council today, this sorry story is still continuing.
I believe in directness and open discussion, so I will be blunt: I believe that in its latest financial proposals the Harris Administration is reverting to the shameful shell-games that characterized its fiscal management of the Bay in the years prior to the Improvements Project. Project supporters generally thought that these games had been abandoned and that the Bay had been put on sound financial footing in late 1999, when the Council amended the Revised Ordinances to ensure that all the revenues generated at the Bay — from concessions as well as entry fees — would be placed in the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve fund from which operations of the Bay are financed.
During the public debates over the project that took place prior to final Council approval in 1999, the Harris administration made certain representations to both the public and the Council concerning the financing of the project and the Preserve. Only one of these was put into legal form, but all three were clear enough to those of us who participated in the process. These undertakings were:
*The project would be self-funding, i.e. paid for out of the Bay’s own revenues without additional levies on taxpayers;
*Concession revenues would be shifted to the Preserve’s special fund (by an amendment to the Ordinance) to ensure that the Preserve had enough income to cover operating costs plus the capital costs of the new facility;
*The $3 non-resident entrance fee would not have to be raised to pay for the project.
Now, barely six months following the opening of the new facility, the administration has proposed:
*To again divert the concession revenues