Demonstration Planned to Save Wilson Keahiʻs Boat Yard at Māla
A sign waving demonstration will be held this Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Māla Boat Yard at the site where Lahaina resident Wilson Keahi has maintained a boat yard for the past 35 years.
Since 1981, he has provided storage for the boating community; however, in December of 2016, the state Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, through a bidding process, terminated Keahi’s lease and awarded the lease to another party.
Keahi’s nephew, Kapali Keahi contends the bidding process was “flawed, vague and unreasonably biased, and, in all fairness, should have been made public.”
In media coverage of the case back in 2015, The Maui News, the Star Advertiser and Hawaiʻi News Now, detailed how Keahi fought claims alleging he violated the terms of his lease, allegations he maintains were never substantiated. At the time an investigation was launched to determine if he was allowed to collect rent under his revocable month-to-month lease with the state.
According to family members, DOBOR was tasked to reappraise all of their revocable month-to-month leases since early 2016. That meant the leases were to be put out to bid based on the new appraised value of the properties, including the Māla boat yard.
Kapali Keahi tells Maui Now, “How that bidding process was to be administered was a mystery.”
He continued saying, “My Uncle Wilson’s boat yard in particular was appraised at about $43,000. Interested parties were given till the end of October to place their bid. Interestingly, the final appraisal did not come out until December. My uncle subsequently, submitted another offer but by then, was informed that his lease was revoked and another party was awarded the revocable lease.”
Kapali Keahi states that if his uncle had been given “adequate notice of any opposing offers” and notified how the bidding process were to be administered, “he would have bid accordingly and protected his investments and all of the hard work he and members of the community helped to establish.”
Family members say Wilson Keahi was issued a notice on Jan. 6, 2017 to vacate the property by Jan. 31, 2017; but because he is responsible for demo of all the improvements to the property, was given an extension until the end of February.
Supporters say Wilson Keahi deserves to maintain his lease in light of the improvements he has made to the property and his desire to provide reasonable service to the boating community in West Maui.
Family members note that Wilson Keahi is a lineal descendant of Māla, whose family is rooted in the fishing traditions of the area. “The Keahi family have long advocated the protection of the fisheries off Lahaina–especially, protecting the ʻōpelu grounds that the families of Māla have fished from for generations,” said Kapali Keahi.
Tomorrow’s demonstration begins at 9 a.m. It will be followed by a potluck style lunch or early dinner. In addition to sign waving, supporters will also be gathering signatures for a petition to Save Uncle Wilson Keahi’s Boat Yard.
DLNR Says Māla Warf Tenants Required to Renegotiate Leases
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources issued a press release this afternoon advising that Māla Wharf and Boat Ramp tenants are required to renegotiate leases.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources is asking current Māla Wharf tenants to contact its Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, Property Management Branch so they can receive information about keeping their storage rental agreements in force, following the reissuing of a one-year revocable permit for that property. A&K Ventures, LLC will begin management of dry-land boat and trailer storage at Māla Wharf on Maui, on March 1, 2017.
The Māla Wharf and Boat Ramp is located one mile north of Lahaina on the west coast of the island of Maui. It features two boat ramps, two loading docks, a vessel wash-down, restrooms/shower, and offshore moorings.
The Board of Land and Natural Resources voted on Dec. 9, 2016 to award a revocable permit to A&K Ventures, LLC. The RP had previously been owned by Mr. Wilson Keahi since 1981. The major impact for tenants at the Māla facility is for the need to renegotiate their vessel agreement with A&K Ventures, LLC.
The Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, the owner of the Māla facility, is required to seek the best and highest use for fast lands and submerged lands it controls. At the direction of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, DOBOR was tasked with preparing its properties for transition from short term revocable permits to long term leases, with the intent to offer those leases for sale at public auction. During the transition period, DOBOR is required by the BLNR to adjust the rent for current revocable permits according to independently appraised, fair market rates.
DOBOR has been working to address a backlog of permits for properties that need to be reappraised for their current market value. The reissuance of the RP for Māla is one of the first being performed by DOBOR. Revenues from such permits help to maintain and improve the infrastructure in State recreational harbors for the enjoyment of boaters and the general public.
“One of the problems we anticipated in re-issuing the revocable permit for Māla is the lack of available information about current vessel owners who occupy boating and trailer storage space on the premises,” said BLNR Chairperson Suzanne Case. “For that reason we are asking those current tenants to relay vital contact information to DOBOR by e-mail or via the Māla Tenant Registration Page featured on the DOBOR web site.”
“The contact information we collect will greatly improve our outreach to those existing tenants and facilitate the transition so their use of the facility can continue without any interruption,” said Case.