Yacht Club Leases
Need Long-term Solutions Now

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (08/09/97)
By Ray Pendleton

Gov. Cayetano's recent successful intervention into the state's bureaucratic "can't do" attitude at the Aloha Stadium reminded me of an area in which hundreds of boaters would surely enjoy seeing him intervene: the renewal of the Waikiki and Hawaii yacht club leases.

You may think relating the renewal of yacht club leases to the booking of the Rolling Stones' concert prior to the Pro Bowl is stretching the point, but perhaps there is a common denominator here: an apparent tendency of many bureaucrats to see problems instead of potential.

With the concert, the bureaucrats couldn't imagine how they could have the stadium ready for the football classic some 10 days after the concert, and were apparently willing to accept an reported $80 to 100 million loss to the state's economy. The governor, together with promoter Tom Moffatt, showed them how they could make it work.

In the case of the yacht clubs, the bureaucrats - i.e., the Boating Division of the Department of Land and Natural Resources - cannot seem to find a way to provide them with new long-term leases. Again, by seeing problems instead of potential, they are losing revenue to the state.

Take the 50-plus year-old Waikiki Yacht Club for instance - the very club that is attempting to capture the America's Cup for Hawai`i. Its members have been pleading with the DLNR for over a decade to come up with a reasonable multi-year lease agreement.

As might any tenant who was renting without a long-term guarantee, the WYC hesitates to make any large capital improvements that could be lost if it were evicted. Hence, its aging docks and facilities tend to weaken the club's ability to attract and retain members, which in turn diminishes the club's total income and therefore, its taxes paid to the state.

WYC and HYC members are also largely instrumental for the success of most of Hawaii's national and international sailing regattas. Transpac and the Kenwood Cup Series each bring in millions of dollars and world wide media attention to our state every year, and both would disappear without the two clubs.

The people of this state not only gain financially from these clubs, but also from their community involvement.

Throughout the summer, the clubs conduct sailing classes for hundreds of preteen and teenage "junior sailors." Such programs give kids from all over Honolulu the wonderful opportunity of learning how to ride the tradewinds for fun and competition. Many of their graduates advance to the University of Hawaii's sailing program and beyond.

WYC's outrigger canoe paddling program has attracted some 120 members, from teens to seniors. With training and racing throughout the year, the program has continued to grow in popularity.

Both clubs work together to conduct a yearly keiki fishing tournament that focuses on attracting disadvantaged youth from the community for a day of offshore reef fishing. Clubs' members also come forward to lead in the various Ala Wai cleanups held each year.

By creating ocean-based revenue for the state and by taking an active role in community involvement, these yacht clubs have shown themselves to be good neighbors. Our community would sorely miss these indispensable cornerstones of recreational boating in Hawai`i.

Governor, might you once again help the bureaucrats find a way to see potential rather than problems?

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