Categorized | Business

Gaffney testimony on proposed DLNR changes

Rick Gaffney, Hawaii Fishing and Boating Association president, shared the following statement at the Thursday, Feb. 24 public hearing in Kona:

My name is Rick Gaffney and I am testifying tonight on behalf of the Hawaii Fishing and Boating Association. While we will be submitting more detailed testimony in writing, there were several things we felt must be said here tonight.

First of all we would like to thank the DLNR for scheduling this Public Hearing at Honokohau Harbor. For the first time in recent memory the West Hawaii boating community, the ocean recreation industry and the businesses that support them have been given access to a Public Hearing without having to drive half way across the island. Honokohau Small Boat Harbor is the center of boating in West Hawaii, and it is the logical and appropriate place to hold any public hearing that relates to this boating community. Please keep it up.

While we appreciate the access allowed to us by the DLNR-BOR holding this public hearing at Honokohau, we were surprised to discover that this hearing was only scheduled for an hour and a half whereas the Hilo Public Hearing is scheduled for two hours and the Maui Public Hearing is scheduled for three hours. In fact, the West Hawaii boating community has been given less time to testify than any other venue in the State. Seems a little unfair.

We are also concerned because it appears to us that this hearing is in fact illegal, in that it was not adequately approved by the Board of Land and Natural Resources. The process inadequacies were detailed in a letter to DLNR, from the Office of Information Practices, and that letter from the OIP suggests that the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act were not met in this case. That being the case this hearing is not a legal process, under State law.

Moreover, we are deeply concerned that the Department of Boating and Ocean Recreation continues to pursue the deeply flawed process of adding to and changing the rules, piecemeal and in tiny increments, when what clearly needs to be undertaken is a wholesale revision of the rules.

Until the HARs relating to boating and ocean recreation are completely reconsidered and dramatically downsized, they will continue to be a significant impediment to boating, ocean recreation and ocean tourism in this State. The current structure of the chapter is so disorganized that even well-educated people with a personal interest in understanding the rules, have great difficulty doing so.

Despite our concerns about the validity of these proceedings we would also like to testify specifically on those proposed rules directly affecting our members:

13-231-5 Period of validity and renewal of use permit: While we agree with and support the purpose of the additions to this rule—to provide a specific mechanism for a grace period for the reinstatement of a mooring permit upon failure to renew in a timely fashion—we would argue that:

1) as written this rule is made unnecessarily redundant by the addition of language already found in paragraph (a) preceding this proposed new language in paragraph (b), and

2) whereas this section of the rules is clearly focused on the “renewal of use permits,” suggesting all kinds of use permits, the proposed additions to this rule in paragraph (b) are limited only to mooring permits. The proposed language in paragraph (b) should apply to all types of use permits.

For the record, the lack of clarity and continuity with which many of the rules refer to various permits, is a problem throughout the chapter.

Regarding 13-233-29 Eligibility for parking permits; fee per vehicle: In response to this section we would like to remind the Department that we remain unequivocally opposed to any form of paid parking at Honokohau small boat harbor. We would also like to suggest that charging parking fees for employees of commercial harbor businesses, and the employees of commercial boat owners, and especially for visitors utilizing the services of the harbor’s commercial operators will actually result in a net loss of revenues for the State.

It is also important to understand that the earnings of those working in the charter industry have historically been at the lower end of the earnings scale. We have heard from a number of deckhands and other harbor business employees who have stated that they simply will not be able to afford to pay to park — that the proposed parking fees will literally take food off their tables and could cost them their jobs. In item ( 5) of that section: The newly proposed minimum of $100s/month for “Other non-boating related persons” is exorbitant and essentially closes our small boat facilities to many whose presence there is valuable.

In closing I would like to reiterate that our organization believes that this Public Hearing is not legitimate due to a failure of the DLNR-BOR to meet the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act and the State’s Sunshine Laws in Chapter 92.

Moreover we would suggest that as long as the DLNR-BOR continues to disenfranchise the boating and ocean recreation communities by not inviting us to participate in the rules writing process from day one, and by not providing clear information on proposed rules making in advance, and by constantly changing submissions to the public and the Board of Land & Natural Resources prior to public meetings and hearings, essentially presenting us with a constantly moving target, that any future rule changes will be doomed failure.

The Hawaii Fishing & Boating Association is committed to making our harbor a better, more functional place to work, to recreate, to run a business, to play, and from which to access the ocean. We implore the DLNR-BOR to begin to work with us, not continue to work against us. You owe that to the boating and ocean recreation community and you owe it to the people of the State of Hawaii.

Rick Gaffney, President
Hawaii Fishing & Boating Association
P.O. Box 1554
Kailua-Kona, HI 96745

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