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Cal Boating official agrees on status quo


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POSTED: Sunday, March 01, 2009

Last week's Water Ways column brought about an interesting transpacific transfer of information.

Raynor Tsuneyoshi, the director of California's Department of Boating and Waterways—aka Cal Boating—is a frequent reader of this column. It can't be my writing, so I suppose it's because he just likes to keep track of how things are going in the state where he grew up.

After reading my ideas on why the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement should remain a part of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Tsuneyoshi offered another argument against any separation.

There are federal funds available through grants from the Sportfishing Preservation and Boating account that is administered by the Coast Guard's Office of Boating Safety, Tsuneyoshi told me. In fact, California has earned more than $7 million from that source.

However, the Coast Guard has made it clear it has no interest in dealing with more than one entity within a state for such grant funding, Tsuneyoshi said, and presently in Hawaii, that entity is Boating Law Administrator Ed Underwood, who heads the DLNR's Division of Boating and Ocean Resources.

To add another link to this transpacific connection, DLNR Chairwoman Laura Thielen has stated that while the National Park Service assets management plan will guide the proposed Recreational Renaissance for parklands, for maritime improvements the DLNR will rely on Cal Boating's guidelines for small boating facility upgrades and construction.

Underwood won't have to search very hard for those guidelines either because, according to Tsuneyoshi, “;We have provided a copy to every Boating Law Administrator in the other 49 states and in six territories.”;

It should be remembered that Cal Boating, which was established two years before Hawaii became a state, has a very different type of operation compared to our DOBOR's more hands-on approach.

Rather than attempting to construct, operate, and maintain the state's recreational boating facilities, Cal Boating establishes guidelines and loans funds to businesses, cities, counties and other governmental agencies for the planning and construction of small craft harbors and marina facilities.

Some of its funding comes from boater fuel taxes and registrations, similar to DOBOR, but a more significant amount comes from the repayment of principal and interest on outstanding small craft harbor loans.

Similarly, Cal Boating is also removed from boating law enforcement. It provides training and financial aid programs to the state's counties and municipalities, which then allows those local jurisdictions to provide enforcement that is uniform statewide.

A final disparity between Cal Boating and DOBOR can be seen in the fact that Tsuneyoshi was honored as the Recreational Boaters of California Boater of the Year in 2003. And when California's Gov. Schwarzenegger, recently tried to eliminate Cal Boating to cut costs, thousands of boaters flooded his office with letters of protest.

Could anything comparable happen in Hawaii? I tend to doubt it, but on the other hand, if Laura Thielen's Recreational Renaissance package ever comes to fruition, her name would be on my short list for this state's Boater of the Year.