The Department of Land and Natural Resources is still trying to figure out what to do with the revocable permit that the Kaneohe Yacht Club in Windawrd Oahu has held since 1977.
The agency has resolved in recent years to convert, where appropriate, revocable permits to a long-term disposition, be it an easement or a lease. And in 2016, a department task force identified the yacht club’s permit as one that should be converted.
On January 11, 2019, the DLNR’s Land Division proposed canceling the club’s permit for recreational boat pier purposes and granting a non-exclusive easement for use of the submerged lands. From 1977 to 2016, the yacht club had paid only $177.89 a month to rent the lands upon which its piers sit. Since 2016, it has paid $183.23 a month.
The Board of Land and Natural Resources deferred cancelling the permit to give the club more time to negotiate with the Land Division on the most appropriate type of disposition. It did, however, raise the rent. Since then, the Land Division transferred the permit to the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation.
At the board’s June 26 meeting, DOBOR property manager Richard Howard asked that the permit be renewed for another year. Rent would be the same as it was last year: $1,000 a month or 10 percent of gross receipts, whichever is greater.
He reported that his division was still working with the yacht club on how to do a long-term disposition.
Land Board member Jimmy Gomes suggested that it would be appropriate for the yacht club to do an environmental assessment, given the length of time it’s had control of the land. He also said the permit rent should be higher than it is, noting that the board is charging a boat facility at Sand Island much more than $1,000 a month.
Howard said the Kaneohe Yacht Club has argued against a rent increase because they’re breaking even on its boat slip rentals. “They’ve given us figures that show what they collect for slips in this area,” he said.
“Wouldn’t you think … if they want to make money, they should increase their fees?” Gomes asked.
Howard replied that whether the land is secured under a long-term lease or an easement, an independent appraisal will be done and “rent is going to go up no matter what.” “They’re trying to figure out where they want to go, an easement or an auction lease. I understand the sentiment that they should be paying more. This is a temporary thing. It’s not going to be another 40 years. … I think we’re going to get something to the board within the year. By December, we’ll have some kind of request,” he said.
With regard to the permit rent, board member Chris Yuen pointed out that because the slips are rented to yacht club members, the club isn’t trying to make money off the state’s lands. “The fact that they’re not making money is not really a consideration,” he said.
Howard pointed out that the yacht club does pay for the dredging of its own basin.
“We’ve never paid anything for that or the repairs and maintenance of the piers themselves,’ he said.
Because the adjacent fast land is owned by the club, “the only parties that can use this are only the yacht club and perhaps their neighbors,” he continued.
The board ultimately approved the permit renewal at the recommended rent, but Yuen told Howard before the vote, “We need to do better on this one.”
Board members Gomes and Sam Gon, who echoed Yuen’s and Gomes’s rent concerns, abstained.
— Teresa Dawson