Hemmings’ bill more specific, wide-ranging
ALL three regular readers of Water Ways know of my advocacy for the development of public/private partnerships to create, operate and maintain our recreational boating facilities in Hawaii.
I have based such advocacy on the fact that the best examples of well-run marinas to be found worldwide are nearly always established on such partnerships. They allow a governmental entity to protect and provide for the public's access to the sea, while permitting the private sector to do what it does best: provide the types of facilities and services the public demands.
This arrangement becomes a win-win situation for everyone. Boaters end up with quality marinas at fair-market rates; marine-related businesses grow, thrive, hire employees, and pay fees and taxes; and government does what it does best: it collects those fees and taxes and protects the public's health and safety.
From Canada to Mexico there are hundreds, if not thousands of examples of such partnerships.
I wrote about a bill proposed by Sen. Fred Hemmings (R, Lanikai-Waimanalo) last week, which would establish statewide maritime industry enterprise zones that would help create such partnerships.
Similarly, there is another bill being introduced in the Legislature that, while somewhat the same -- it would establish a "community development district" -- it applies only to the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor and the nearby Kewalo Basin.
Representatives Ken Ito (D, Heeia-Kaneohe) and Pono Chong (D, Maunawili-Kaneohe), and five others are collectively introducing House Bill 258.
The bill's language quickly makes the accurate assessment that for years there have been boater complaints about the Ala Wai's deteriorated condition, as well as calls for increased mooring fees to correct the situation that have not been properly addressed by the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
As a solution, the bill transfers the responsibility for the area from the DLNR to a community development district authority that, after creating a development plan, will, "develop, distribute, and accept requests for proposals from qualified private entities for plans to develop and operate the district ..."
The bill also provides policy guidelines that will "ensure optimum compatible uses and activities" for boaters, and provide for commercial uses such as restaurants, retail shops, marine and fishing supply outlets, private clubs and a fuel dock. The continued use of the district's waters by sailing students, canoe paddlers, surfers, and swimmers will also be ensured.
This legislation might create the sort of public/private partnership that is needed in Hawaii. But unfortunately, when compared to Hemmings' bill, it only focuses on one -- albeit the most visible -- of our state's failing marinas. If it's a good idea, why not extend it to Lahaina and Honokohau as well?
HB 258 also leaves the appointment or election of its community development district's directors undefined, whereas Hemmings' bill specifically identifies who will serve on its enterprise zone advisory committee.
It's said the devil is in the details, and these details are too important to disregard.