Little info available on committees
A re you like me, a recreational boater who would really like to help find ways for improving Hawaii's public marina operations?
If you've heard the recent radio requests by the Department of Land and Natural Resources asking for volunteers statewide to become members of local "harbor advisory committees," maybe you thought this would be your chance.
The ads said to either sign up on-line at the DLNR's Web site, or to contact your local harbormaster's office. So, as I wanted to ask a few questions, I decided to call.
The Ala Wai Harbormaster Meghan Statts was very pleasant and as helpful as possible, but she hadn't even heard about the program until the radio ads began, all she could do was take down my name and number and send it along to her boss.
I checked out the Web site next and as advertised, there was an electronic sign-up application. Still, the only additional information there advised people to, "Sign up today! Get involved in Hawaii's harbors and ocean recreation areas."
This left me with major unanswered questions about these committees: Where and how often will they meet? How will they be funded? What will be the parameters of the issues they address and their advisory powers? How will conflicts of interest be addressed during any decision-making? And, most importantly, will any of the solutions arrived at come to fruition?
My earlier experiences as a volunteer on an Ala Wai Harbor Ad Hoc Advisory Committee in 2002 prompted these questions, but finding the answers became next to impossible.
I was told by someone in the DLNR's Division of Boating and Ocean Resources that the move to create harbor advisory committees came from DLNR director Peter Young, primarily in response to House Resolution 97, passed by the Legislature in March of this year.
With this resolution, our lawmakers were calling attention to the unavoidable disputes between harbor users and DOBOR officials over such issues as proposed rules and improvements, leases and permits, budget and funding matters, and fee and permit increases.
To help solve this ongoing dilemma, the resolution requested the DLNR to create local committees to advise it on all matters relating to the operation and management of each small boat harbor.
So in September, suddenly the DLNR director's office began running the public service announcements asking for volunteers, but unfortunately before anyone in DOBOR knew a new program was in the process of implementation.
And to date, I am told, the DLNR director's office has given no organizational or procedural guidelines to the DOBOR, other than to take the names of volunteers and form committees.
At this point, considering the obviously limited amount of planning that has gone into this new program, we boaters may want to sign up, but it will be quite some time before anyone knows what to do with us.