Friday, March 11, 2005

Jud Lohmeyer, his dog Tiger and Kate Kanski walked along the Ala Wai Boat Harbor pier yesterday. They and other boaters are suing the state over their eviction from the slips.

Ala Wai boaters
sue state over eviction

The live-aboard group blames
a state deal with a private club

A group of people who live aboard their boats at the Ala Wai Harbor is suing the state, alleging that officials improperly tried to evict them from short-term boat slips to make room for Waikiki Yacht Club members.

The group, calling itself Displaced Boaters of Ala Wai Harbor, knew they were renting nonpermanent boat slips but believe they should have been given more notice to move, said spokesman Jud Lohmeyer.

In mid-February, state officials issued eviction notices to about a dozen boaters. Eight of them sued, seeking to be allowed to stay, and a judge issued a preliminary injunction stopping the evictions until the case is resolved.

The plaintiffs also question the state's agreement to accept a used Waikiki Yacht Club dock in exchange for providing some of its members with temporary boat slips while the club's replacement dock is installed.

Lohmeyer said he has asked the state attorney general and ombudsman to investigate whether state procurement and open-meetings laws were violated when Richard Rice, administrator of the state Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, made the agreement.

Rice refused comment on the lawsuit, which is pending in state Circuit Court. But he called the Waikiki Yacht Club giving its floating "D Dock" to the state "a wonderful gift" and "a public-private partnership."

Allowing Waikiki Yacht Club boaters to dock at transient Ala Wai slips during an estimated two months of construction is fair, Rice said yesterday.

Under the plan, the state will float the D Dock over to where its F Dock used to be, and the yacht club will build a permanent dock on piers at its current D Dock site. The F Dock, which had 76 slips, was condemned and removed in February 2004, but has not been replaced because the Boating Division has not had any capital funds available for small-boat harbor improvements. The division is seeking $20 million in bonds from the Legislature, of which as much as $7 million could be spent on the Ala Wai Harbor, Rice said.

However, given that the Legislature rejected the Boating Division's bond request last year, the Waikiki Yacht Club's used dock "was a chance to get something -- a dock -- over there that would hold 40 boats in a place where there were none," Rice said.

Though the dock is used, "it's in pretty good shape and not as old as any of our docks," Rice said. He said the installation of the floating dock in the Ala Wai Harbor will cost from $10,000 to $40,000 in labor and materials, using Boating Division staff.

From 120 to 140 of the Ala Wai Harbor's 699 boat slips are condemned and unusable, or gone, Rice noted.

In February 2004, after the F Dock was demolished, there were more than 500 boaters on a waiting list for the Ala Wai Harbor, the state's largest recreational boat harbor, and much less mooring space for transient boaters.

"We're trying to keep the harbor as full as we can," Rice said, and the boaters who were asked to make way for the Waikiki Yacht Club members still might be accommodated. However, their temporary slip permits are issued for 15 days at a time, he said.

"It's on a space-available basis, like a hotel. There's no expectation you get to stay on," he said.

Lohmeyer and his fellow lawsuit plaintiffs do not see it that way. "We're basically being thrown out of the harbor to make way for the Waikiki Yacht Club," he said.

Lohmeyer and others received three days' notice in February that their temporary permits would not be renewed, he said. The state could have provided more notice, given that a letter from the Boating Division to Waikiki Yacht Club members dated Nov. 30 referred to "an agreement and understanding" about club members using Ala Wai slips during D Dock construction.

The Waikiki Yacht Club leases its land from the state Boating Division.

"We feel this is a great accommodation for the boating community," said Bill Foster, Waikiki Yacht Club's port captain. "Without these slips the state wouldn't be able to take care of some events coming up," such as the Transpac yacht race from California to Hawaii in July, he said.

He said the club will spend about $400,000 on its new dock and will save about $10,000 in disposal costs by having the state take the old one.

State Boating & Ocean Recreation Division
Waikiki Yacht Club

E-mail to City Desk


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