FL MORRIS / FLMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Members of the Kewalo Kakaako Coalition gathered at Kewalo Basin to protest the proposed changes at the harbor. Above, Connie White carries a sign in protest. CLICK FOR LARGE
Kewalo Basin tenants protest fees
Boat slip tenants protest a planned fee increase and new management
The state and boat slip tenants at Kewalo Basin are at an impasse over who should manage the harbor and how it should be done.
The Hawaii Community Development Authority postponed a formal public hearing that had been scheduled for yesterday evening, and instead called a meeting with tenants.
"It's an opportunity for us to get more public input," said Daniel Dinell, the HCDA's executive director.
The state agency seeks to double mooring fees and add maintenance fees when it takes over management and operations of the basin from the state Department of Transportation on July 1.
Blue-shirted boat slip tenants and supporters held a rally to protest the changes before yesterday's meeting, at which they chanted, "Public lands in public hands."
Kewalo Ocean Activities, a group representing charter boat operators and longline fishermen at the basin, says it wants to remain under DOT.
Frank Mento, spokesman for KOA, said there's an overall distrust of the HCDA. He said the state agency's goal is to put private yachts into the harbor. Mento added that none of the boaters' input is showing up in revisions to the group's satisfaction.
"We're very disappointed," said Bob McCowen, owner of Blue Nun Sportfishing. "It seems to us they just want to take the wind out of our sails."
But the state Department of Transportation doesn't want management of the basin, either.
Transportation director Barry Fukunaga said both agencies recognize that Kewalo Basin is part of Kakaako, and that HCDA should be responsible for its future.
The HCDA has held meetings with the boating community since proposing the changes, but no agreement has been reached. The newly convened Kakaako Makai Advisory Working Group is also meeting to develop recommendations.
"Kewalo Basin lies in the heart of an area now entering a comprehensive community-based planning process," said Dinell, citing the new medical school and Kakaako Waterfront Park as examples. "We anticipate other projects in the district, including Kewalo Basin, will demonstrate the same standard of quality."
The aging harbor is in critical need of repair, posing safety concerns, the agency says.