The Division of Boats and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) recently attempted to evict 171 boaters from the docks they currently occupy at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor. First, the Land Board condemned the D dock because it was deemed unsafe. Along with the D dock being condemned, the DOBOR’s engineers also suggested that because the B and C docks were in bad shape, they should be condemned as well.
Thanks to Governor’s senior administration stepping in and revisiting the DOBOR’s decision to condemn the B and C docks, a major stride has been taken towards finding a solution for the displaced boaters. Their short-term solution to speed up the repair of the F Dock with the $1.65 million appropriated by Governor Lingle in April is nothing short of brilliant and I am extremely pleased with this recent decisive action. In addition, I believe an independent marine survey of B and C docks is necessary, with the goal of finding a way to extend the safe and usable life of these docks.
I opposed this condemnation plan upon learning the details. I was saddened for the many talented and knowledgeable people who own recreational boats, are members of yacht clubs, are maritime professionals, or regular citizens. These people want to see the Ala Wai become a jewel of a marina. Removing the boats belonging to these very people, with no clear relocation plan, and the resulting loss of their slip fees, is a step backward from this goal.
The money appropriated to F Dock and the work that will follow could act as a catalyst for future upgrades to the decrepit areas that so desperately need our help.
Now that the short-term solution is moving forward, it is time to find a long-term one. I believe that a modest increase in slip fees and the use of those funds to repair the existing and remaining piers is a good solution.
The current fees are about half the price of private harbors in Hawaii and among the lowest in the nation. Slips at the Ala Wai cost between-$2.75 – $5.25 a linear foot of boat per month, depending on the dock location and size of the boat, and most are held by long-term owners.
Raising the price the slip fee will help fund some repairs. It will obviously not be the only source of revenue. The rest should come from the Legislature. The state of the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor is and has been a serious issue for many years.
There must also be a formula to ensure that those funds collected at the Ala Wai harbor are used to maintain it first, before surplus funds are distributed to other harbors.
The harbor is such a valuable asset and brings recreational boating to the average citizen, like public tennis courts bring the formerly elite sport of tennis to everyone. One of my goals as a legislator is to work in the open process with plenty of public input, to remake the Ala Wai into the magnificent facility – host of Transpac, the place where keiki learn to sail, and where world cruisers desire to berth – that it has the potential to become.
”’State Rep. Anne Stevens is a Republican representing the district of Waikiki on the island of Oahu.”’
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