Waikiki residents criticize state officials for lack of enforcement after large boat fire

Waikiki residents criticize state officials for lack of enforcement after large boat fire
(image: Hawaii News Now)
(image: Hawaii News Now)

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Waikiki residents demanded answers from state officials about plans for improvement to the Ala Wai Boat Harbor at Tuesday night's neighborhood board meeting.

The administrator of the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation attended the meeting to update residents on development plans for the harbor. Instead, he got an earful from fed-up community members.

Residents say the harbor has been in disrepair for years and say the lack of security and enforcement has led to situations like Monday night's boat fire and other major problems.

"People own the boat and they're not on the boat and the homeless know it and we get squatters," said Ala Wai Boat Harbor resident Patricia Kesling-Wood.

Wood has lived at the Ala Wai Boat Harbor with her husband since 2009. She says she would like to see more enforcement and better maintenance of the docks.

The state boating division administrator says it is a never-ending battle to keep staff.

Ed Underwood says they are currently down to two harbor agents. He says even at full staff, with three harbor agents, it's tough.

"One thing people do not realize, is that the harbor agents in the small boat harbors aren't just assigned the small boat harbor. Their area of responsibility goes from the Ala Wai small boat harbor to Makapuu Point," Underwood said.

Meanwhile, DLNR officials say the 36-foot boat that caught fire and sank at Ala Wai Boat Harbor Monday night did not have a valid permit to moor there and the boats's owner did not have permission to be living on his vessel. They also said it was about to be impounded.

They said the boat was not insured, so they will most likely have to salvage the boat.

The owner of the vessel called "No Faith" said  he was not on board at the time.

The cause is still under investigation.

Court records indicate the owner was given a citation by DLNR for mooring without a permit in the Ala Wai last year, but he never showed up to court and still has an outstanding warrant for arrest.

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