Tuesday, December 18, 2001

Kalaeloa shelter
opens for holidays

The issue: Temporary housing
at a former Navy air station is ready
to take in the homeless.

SCORES of Oahu residents will soon have a place to live, putting to good use a building that has stood empty for more than two years since the Navy closed the Barbers Point Naval Air Station. The opening of the shelter at Kalaeloa is welcome news at a time when economic conditions have put people out of work or cut into their shifts.

Although the facility has only 41 units with one or two bedrooms, it will be the first to accept childless couples who ordinarily are separated at temporary shelters. The separation can further strain marriages already vulnerable because of homelessness. Its location on the Leeward Coast is particularly critical for an area where few other facilities are available and where homeless numbers total about 700 people. Single people as well as families also will be housed at the three-story building called Onemalu. Nearby schools will make it convenient for children, who, when homeless, often don't attend classes.

The state has designated three other buildings at Kalaeloa for shelters and for counseling, employment and other social services needed to take people from living on the beach and streets to financial recovery. Next June, a facility for single people will open. Other structures should be ready by the end of 2002.

The Veterans Administration is moving closer to providing housing and services for 250 to 350 veterans who are attempting to re-enter society. Three buildings at Kalaeloa will be refitted for shelter, substance-abuse programs, job counseling and other uses. These will be put into place next year.

Residents in the surrounding areas are to be commended for welcoming the programs. Too often such facilities are shunned with a not-in-my-backyard attitude. "We're glad that the homeless will find some refuge," said Maeda Timson of the Makakilo-Kapolei-Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board. American Linen and Hilton Hawaiian Village donated linen for the shelter.

Since the air station was closed in July 1999, conveyance of about 2,600 acres of land from the Navy to federal, state and city agencies has moved slowly, principally because of the bureaucratic red tape and legal complexities that had to be untangled. Unoccupied buildings fell into disrepair and grass and plants dried up when the Navy cut off the water supply.

Redevelopment of Kalaeloa is many years and millions of dollars away. However, for a modest $1.2 million, an empty building has been transformed into a shelter that the needy can call home for the holidays.

Small-boat harbors
don’t need tax aid

The issue: The state has begun
to turn over Ala Wai Harbor
to private enterprise.

DESPITE opposition from many boaters trying to protect their great bargain, the state is moving ahead with plans to turn over development and management of Ala Wai Harbor to private enterprise. The state Board of Land and Natural Resources is taking a responsible approach by including various interest groups in the process. Bickering should not be allowed to interfere with invigorating the state's marinas.

State legislation enacted earlier this year allows for privatization by allowing the state to lease harbors and surrounding shops, restaurants and other marina facilities, such as the marina complex envisioned at Ko Olina. Hawaii's boaters have been paying the cheapest slip rates in the country.

Expansion of those harbor-related activities under private operation should help pay for harbor costs, but mooring rates should rise to rates comparable with harbors elsewhere. At this point, the rate of slip rentals is absurdly low.

The rates at Hawaii's 20 small-boat harbors range from only $2.18 per linear foot to Ala Wai's rate of $4.20 per foot. Thus, the rental fee for a 30-foot yacht at Ala Wai is $126 -- about the same as the lowest rate in California, in the commercial section of Los Angeles Harbor. Rates soar to $29 per foot at Newport Beach, while rates in the San Diego Bay area range from $6.75 to $15.

In approving a process for selecting a private developer for Ala Wai, the board made a special effort to allow various interest groups a voice. It created a citizens advisory committee comprised of harbor boaters, nearby residents, canoe paddlers, surfers, two yacht clubs, the Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki and the Ala Moana Neighborhood Board.

A drawback cited by Westree Marinas, the nation's largest marina services company, is the absence of the water area itself from the lease. Submerged areas are considered ceded lands that are burdened by disagreements between the state and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Twenty percent of the revenues from mooring fees now goes to OHA.

The state spends $1.3 million a year on repair and maintenance of small-boat harbors for a job that should cost 10 times more. State legislative auditor Marion Higa earlier this year criticized the state for allowing the harbors to deteriorate, and relying on tax dollars to pay for maintenance.

Harbors should be self-sufficient, with lucrative harbors such as Ala Wai helping to pay the cost of maintaining others. Yacht owners are not an impoverished class in need of public aid.

Published by Oahu Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press.

Don Kendall, Publisher

Frank Bridgewater, managing editor 529-4791;
Michael Rovner,
assistant managing editor 529-4768;
Lucy Young-Oda, assistant managing editor 529-4762;

Richard Halloran, editorial page director, 529-4790;
John Flanagan, contributing editor 294-3533;

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