Price of Admission

Price of Admission
DLNR planning to raise prices across the state

The price of parking your boat in harbors across Hawaii may rise by as much as 100 percent in the near future. The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has proposed raising prices of mooring rentals to help pay for much needed repairs and maintenance across the state as a part of their “Plan B” to revitalize state parks.

If the DLNR board votes to accept the amendments, the cost of using a slip at Kaunakakai Wharf would nearly double in price from $3.78 to $7.25 per foot of the vessel. The Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) decided to raise its rates a uniform $3.47 for every harbor in the state, rather than scaling the increase to the previous price of each particular harbor.

“One of the complaints we always get from bigger harbors is that they have to subsidize the smaller ones. So, we decided it would be fair if everyone went up evenly,” said DOBOR Chair Ed Underwood.

Underwood said the increases — which will be implemented gradually over a five-year time span – are needed just to meet the current operation costs for the harbor. Last year every state-operated harbor in Hawaii was operating in the red.

The money for repairs and maintenance will come mostly from the temporary mooring fees which are poised for a much bigger jump if the amendment passes. For visitors who want to tie up in Hawaii’s harbors the rates would change from a current complex formula to the proposed charge of $2 per foot per day and $1 per foot per day for an offshore mooring.

“So, basically instead of paying around five or six bucks a day temporary users will be paying more like $60,” Underwood said.

Voice of the People
DLNR held a public hearing on Molokai last week to discuss the new changes and several Molokai residents said they were unhappy with the possible changes.

“I oppose both amendments for Molokai because we’re different than any of the other islands,” William Kaholoaa said. “These fees will drive people away from bringing their boats to Hawaii and will end up costing the state money.”

Others were worried that the generated revenue to be used for repairs would not be spent as efficiently as possible.

“We would like to see if we can get some real action, clean up the harbors, make some real improvements – not all of this piecemeal stuff,” said Molokai resident Phillip Zelm.

The current plan for Kaunakakai Wharf, according to Underwood, is to upgrade the ferry by building a new terminal waiting area and comfort station along with upgrading the current water and sewage facilities.

“After that, we are planning on rebuilding the temporary loading dock and whatever else the place needs,” Underwood said.

The current loading dock was installed last January and there is no timeframe set for when it will be replaced by a permanent structure.

The Big Picture
The mooring and slip rate increases are a part of DLNR’s new Recreational Renaissance Plan B. Plan A was a request for $240 million of state money to rebuild many of the outdated state parks across Hawaii. When the legislature voted against that plan because of budget restrictions earlier this year, DLNR developed Plan B as a way to maintain the facilities they have until money for improvements becomes available.

“We are just trying to move forward with anything we can at this point,” said DLNR Education and Outreach Coordinator Laura Stevens.

Plan B also includes increased camping fees, new $5 parking fees to park at a select group of state parks and entry fees to eight state parks. Stevens said that none of the state parks on Molokai would have parking or entrance fees under the current proposed plan.

DLNR is now holding hearings across the state to collect public input on the new plan. Written testimony can be sent to the department until Nov. 19. Stevens said the DLNR board would most likely discuss the amendments during their Dec. 11 meeting and an official decision could be made as early as January.


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