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Developing our public land$

Concerns grow about the Public Land Development Corp., but the governor and others see positive potential

By Lee Catterall

POSTED:

2012 August 29 CTY - Some 25 or so members of hotel union Local 5 lined Beretania Street near Punchbowl on Wedesday afternoon to show their oppostion to the Public Land Development Corporation. Here, Local 5 member Amanda Ibanez shouted "Keep the Country Country". HSA PHOTO BY GEORGE F. LEE

Quiet enactment of a law that the Abercrombie administration backs to create state-and-private partnerships for development projects has now erupted in vocal questioning, adamant protests and even calls for repeal. These concerns over the Public Land Development Corp.'s powers, its intent and jurisdiction, are prompting state lawmakers to reconsider their support heading into the next Legislature.

Some who voted for the proposal are prepared to support its repeal in the 2013 session, while others contend that the opposition has resulted from misinformation about the new PLDC agency, created by the Legislature in 2011. Gov. Neil Abercrombie has rejected the criticism on that basis, but opposition persists. A repeal would require two-thirds of each legislative chamber.

The law creating PLDC says it "shall be exempt from all statutes, ordinances, charter provisions, and rules of any government agency relating to special improvement district assessments or requirements: land use, zoning, and construction standards for subdivisions, development and improvement of land; and the construction, improvement and sale of homes."

State Rep. John Mizuno, who voted for the bill, now says he will vote for the law's repeal because it "eliminates the ability of the public as well as many government environmental and building review agencies to have the objective oversight to ensure proper protections and safety for area residents and the environment, prior to a developer starting a project in our state."

The agency's five-member board, comprised of three selected by the governor and two by the Legislature, "will be allowed to exempt any project from many land use, environmental and even building permits," Mizuno says.

However, proponents maintain that such opposition is based on incorrect information. Abercrombie's website and a flow chart posted by the PLDC indicate that approval is required of the agency in present control of the area where a project is proposed (see Page F5).

State Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz (D, Kaena-Wahiawa-Pupukea), who introduced the PLDC bill and is chairman of the Senate Water, Land and Housing Committee, says the law is needed to provide development on state-owned industrial parks and boat harbors in "disrepair."

"The state owns all these kinds of assets already, and they're all dilapidated," he says.

The law's introductory mission statement calls for "optimal use of public land for the economic, environmental and social benefit of the people of Hawaii," creating "a public corporation to administer an appropriate and culturally-sensitive public land development program."

However, environmental, labor and Native Hawaiian leaders have angrily denounced the new law and demanded its appeal and abolishment of the corporation after fighting attempts in this year's Legislature to exempt some state construction projects from review. At a hearing of the PLDC's draft administrative rules in August, more than 150 community members overflowed a state building conference room in protest.

Robert Harris, the Sierra Club Hawaii director, called for assurance that the rules won't allow harmful development projects to go forward. David Kimo Frankel, an attorney for the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., expressed concern that the PLDC "is given unfettered discretion to make decisions that affect land for decades."

Abercrombie dismissed the critics as the "usual suspects" who use public hearings to create "conspiratorial hysteria."

Another hearing on the PLDC's proposed administrative rules is scheduled for Nov. 12 at the Department of Land and Natural Resources, its parent agency.

Lloyd Haraguchi, the PLDC's executive director, points out that the new agency is required to comply with the state's environmental impact statement law and historic prevention laws to protect human health and the environment.

But Gary Hooser, who is on leave as the Abercrombie administration's director of environmental quality control to run for the Kauai County Council, responds, "An environmental impact statement is not a permit; it's just a disclosure document. The EIS will say this project is likely to have these impacts, and ‘this is what we suggest that you do to mitigate those impacts,' and it will be lost. … There is no requirement that the developer actually do that. Those requirements are put into place in the permit process, which is what PLDC is exempt from.

"It looks like protection but it's not," Hooser says.

<t-1>While proponents of the law point out that the "title agency" — the department in control of the land — must agree to the PLDC project, Hooser says, each state agency "is under the direction of the administration," so Abercrombie could order approval of a state project.

Hooser says he agrees with County Council members of the neighbor islands who, as the Hawaii State Association of Counties, called this month for the law's repeal.

"I think right now the state has the ability to develop its lands" without the changes made in the new law, Hooser says. The legislation was "fast-tracked," as "significant" amendments were approved on short notice to the public, he adds, which resulted in a law "created under a cloud, and it needs to be scrapped and go back to the drawing board."

Hooser expresses concern about the state agency moving ahead on projects in violation of county rules or desires.

"Each county develops a plan, and there's lots of community input, and every 10 years Kauai is updated," he says, "and these plans say this is where we want growth, as a community: We want growth in these areas and we don't want growth in those areas, and this is the kind of growth we want. And each county has its own zoning ordinances, and this allows the projects developed by PLDC to bypass all those."

Dela Cruz says that the PLDC "has to coordinate with county infrastructure, so you're going to have to get the approval from the county when you come to a sewer, if you need infrastructure, or whatever the case might be.

"At that point," Dela Cruz says, "the county can put conditions on the connection. If the county feels we need you to X, Y and Z if you want to hook up, if for some reason the project cannot afford to do that or they're not willing to do that, then there's no project."

Haraguchi stresses that the "title agency" will decide which lands are in need of the PLDC in going forward with a potential project. Without the county's approval of a water or sewer hook-up, he says, a project will be rejected.

PLDC MISSION AND BOARD

The Public Land Development Corporation was created by the 2011 Legislature (Act 55) to develop state lands and generate revenues for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. The PLDC aims to use public-private partnerships to attract companies as joint partners in developments.

Signed and staunchly supported by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, the PLDC has an executive director — Lloyd Haraguchi — and is governed by a five-member board of directors:

>> Kalbert Young, PLDC chairman (the Department of Budget and Finance director or designee);
>> Duane Kurisu, PLDC vice chairman (the state Senate president’s appointee);
>> William J. Aila Jr. (the Department of Land and Natural Resources director or designee);
>> Mary Alice Evans (the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism director or designee);
>> Robert Bunda (the state House speaker’s appointee). ———

KEEPING SIGHT OF THE LAWS

According to its website, the PLDC shall comply with the following laws of the Hawaii Revised Statute (HRS):

>> HRS Chapter 343 (Environmental Impact Statement)
>> HRS Chapter 6E (Historic Preservation)
>> HRS Chapter 92 (Sunshine Law)
>> HRS Chapter 104 (Wage and Hours)
>> HRS Chapter 171-64.7 (Restriction on sale of ceded lands)
>> HRS Chapter 444 (Contractors)

———

MUST AND MUST NOTS

Other requirements as outlined on its website:

>> PLDC will pay the Office of Hawaiian Affairs any ceded land revenues as required by statute.
>> Property ownership will always remain with the state or county.
>> Revenues for state DLNR or any other title agency shall be retained or increased with any transfer of management.
>> Eighty-five percent of the state’s share of generated net revenues shall go to the title agency or agencies.
>> Each identified state parcel must have approval from the state land board or title agency prior to the PLDC’s participation, subject to the state Sunshine Law.
>> PLDC will not develop agricultural lands eligible for designation as “important agricultural lands.”
>> PLDC will comply with conditions required by the relevant county for infrastructure connection.

Source: Public Land Development Corp. (hawaii.gov/dlnr/pldc)






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mokebla wrote:
Wait didn't the Hawai'i voters put Neil in office? This is the results of party voting, a luau without pork. I say Hawai'i got what they wanted a party vote now suck it up. :-)!
on October 28,2012 | 03:45AM
autumnrose wrote:
Democrats ain't what they used to be... as for old Donnie DelaCruz... developer's lap dog. During his first term in the state senate -- after pushing daRAil in city council -- a slew of bills introduced by DelaCruz all had to do with PUBLIC LAND DEVELOPMENT... and TRANSIT ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT. Why is PLDC needed? Because the public [city or state] has to OWN the lands to allow transit oriented DEVELOPMENT to speed up..... Who WROTE the bills for DelaCruz? Who is $UPPORTING him? ...FYI: Dela Cruz is chair of HART's Transit Oriented Development Committee as well as state Water Land & HOUSING committee -- how cozy is that? Why does Honolulu Authority for RAIL Transit even have a committee that reports regularly, if not monthly to the HART board? BECAUSE RAIL IS ABOUT DEVELOPERS' BOTTOM LINES... another one of those New Age democrat projects where PUBLIC PAYS for PRIVATE PROFIT $ $ $ . . . . our choice of candidate: Bad vs Worse . . . except for a small handful... and they get VILLIFIED if not CRUCIFED by mass media & propaganda advertising.
on October 28,2012 | 09:41AM
autumnrose wrote:
... and PLDC's 1st suggested public lands for DEVELOPMENT include... state owned parcels around HO'OPILI ... the RUSH to allow DEVELOPMENT on the Top Grade AG land of Ho'opili -- best in the state, according to soils expert who testified before Land Use Commission.
on October 28,2012 | 09:46AM
autumnrose wrote:
WAKE UP, Sierra Club.... you wanna save ag lands.... you can NOT support rail and transit oriented development around train stations... FIRST train station starting in the middle of HOOPILI ! ! ! You're supporting SUBURBAN SPAWL . . . Wake UP ! ! !
on October 28,2012 | 09:49AM
allie wrote:
yup..same old shibai
on October 28,2012 | 01:02PM
Keone_Mikaele wrote:
PLDC Gangsters! All about insiders getting rich off public lands.
on October 28,2012 | 11:55AM
Keone_Mikaele wrote:
This rail was not designed to be a "public transportation system" - It is an airport to West Oahu land development scheme.-- This is all about bring Asian investors to Hawaii for the next "Asia Investor Bubble"- mostly China, and getting them to dump their money into West Oahu Condos, Golf Courses, Casinos. --The local residents will quickly stop using the rail once they realize it takes them twice as long to get someplace, and that the rail stations are incredibly badly designed for "public transit"--_______Rail is really all about Dan Inouye's dream, with his big insider friends who will profit---for a an express railway from HNL to West Oahu land development schemes.---The Hawaii Public will be paying INCREASING TAXES to help big insiders get rich.-----That's why they needed to control the main "newspaper" to control the lies and propapganda. This is why there is the Public Land Development Corp, etc--- this is all a MASSIVE THEFT for land and money from the people of Hawaii.
on October 28,2012 | 12:12PM
allie wrote:
well said
on October 28,2012 | 01:02PM
Mythman wrote:
Oh, My, how the truth does hurt. Insider government hacks get rich using their governmental power and authority. Who needs the private sector: in Hawaii, just play the game and get elected then pass a law that amounts to stealing from the public protected by the very law you passed. Have a commission standing by to rubber stamp the scheme. They all learned how to do this from Dan Inouye's fifty years of pulling it off. China's economy is melting down from the same kind of insider political corruption. The state planning office has been working on this one for a while.
on October 28,2012 | 01:46PM
Truther wrote:
Imagine how much under-the-table $s the board members will rake in to approve projects; Aila - you're going to be rich.
on October 28,2012 | 04:13AM
bender wrote:
If Donovan Dela Cruz believes such a law is needed for state owned industrial areas and boat habors, then make the law applicable to those areas only. As the law stands now, any or all land owned by the state is covered, and that is just wrong. And even if we do need capital improvements in our industrial areas and harbors, there is no need to exempt those improvments from the building code or county ordinances. Just follow the law, exemptions aren't needed, except by those who don't want to comply.
on October 28,2012 | 06:06AM
allie wrote:
good point
on October 28,2012 | 01:03PM
Mythman wrote:
The run down state assets do not need this new law in order to be fixed. Take a look at the "clubhouses" used by the union big shots that are also state properties to see how that works.
on October 28,2012 | 01:47PM
loquaciousone wrote:
The PLDC demonstrates that Neil Abercrombie is a really sneaky man. He does not deserve another term.
on October 28,2012 | 06:18AM
Mythman wrote:
Bobby is an insurance man. He sells the state all of its insurance, which is a legit way to get rich from government. He might be the smartest guy of the bunch but he knows which side of the bread his butter is on.....
on October 28,2012 | 01:49PM
bender wrote:
The main editiorial today seems to be written not by the editorial board but by Lee Catterall. Normally we would expect to see this presented as an op-ed piece and we would be told who Lee Catterall is. I did notice that Boibby Bunda is a member of PLDC. He is also a member of HART. Does anyone see a conflict?
on October 28,2012 | 06:53AM
autumnrose wrote:
DARNED RIGHT... and only FIVE GUYS on the PLDC board... including 3 state workers? Just developers RUBBER STAMPS to SPEED the developments through before the public can blink !
on October 28,2012 | 02:25PM
KamaiianaGuy wrote:
All those "stop"signs in the graphic...stopped by who? The PLDC board? So others may get to comment, but only Neil's hand-picked board get to make all the decisions? I'm truly asking...is this how it works?
on October 28,2012 | 07:58AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
All of a sudden we have pretty charts and diagrams and words, words, words. Anybody remember that there was no real opportunity for the public to voice its opinion before Act 55 was slipped through the legislature? Everyone who hears of the PLDC smells the skunk. This is so clearly an insider deal that Abs should be run out of town - on a rail perhaps.
on October 28,2012 | 08:41AM
Keone_Mikaele wrote:
This rail was not designed to be a "public transportation system" - It is an airport to West Oahu land development scheme.-- This is all about bring Asian investors to Hawaii for the next "Asia Investor Bubble"- mostly China, and getting them to dump their money into West Oahu Condos, Golf Courses, Casinos. --The local residents will quickly stop using the rail once they realize it takes them twice as long to get someplace, and that the rail stations are incredibly badly designed for "public transit"--_______Rail is really all about Dan Inouye's dream, with his big insider friends who will profit---for a an express railway from HNL to West Oahu land development schemes.---The Hawaii Public will be paying INCREASING TAXES to help big insiders get rich.-----That's why they needed to control the main "newspaper" to control the lies and propapganda. This is why there is the Public Land Development Corp, etc--- this is all a MASSIVE THEFT for land and money from the people of Hawaii.
on October 28,2012 | 12:13PM
Mythman wrote:
The public was def shafted and what does this tell us? Smell a rat and dig it out and toss it out....
on October 28,2012 | 01:50PM
PMiller4249 wrote:
This has nothing to do with Hawaiian Lands. Paper is doing best to hide weak endorsement of Mazi, where is it on webpage. In fact it is so weak, maybe you are supporting Lingle but afraid to say so. Very few Senators from any State has been so weak. She is inarticulate, a member of progressive caucus, #7 most liberal in House, hasn't introduced any consequential legislation, and votes 100% Party without regard to Hawaii needs. She has no concern about the budget or national debt, her motto is "more you spend will solve economic crisis!" A Senator she is NOT! Your failure to cover Bengazi is a clearly controlling news to Hawaii public. If that the case, how can your paper be fully believed? Who knows, you may fail to cover other news events or provide half truths. To bad for only paper in town.. I will not renew my subscription, thus not subject to your control of news and propaganda!
on October 28,2012 | 09:53AM
allie wrote:
Truth is neither lingle nor Mazie are in any way impressive
on October 28,2012 | 01:35PM
Mythman wrote:
Mazie keeps her mouth shut and does what Inouye tells her. Lingle keeps her mouth shut and does the right thing. Lingle has money already and her uncle is very rich. Mazie needs to make some money from government so she does as she is told.
on October 28,2012 | 01:51PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Over the past 6 years we have paid Mazie over a million dollars salary, provided fat health care benefits, gave her a paid lifetime retirement plan we would all crave and provided a sweet lifestyle. In turn, she accomplished exactly nothing.
on October 28,2012 | 04:10PM
MalamaKaAina wrote:
ANYBODY BUT MAZIE!!!
on October 28,2012 | 01:50PM
OB1NONO_ME wrote:
John Mizuno like many of our politicians, did not even take the time to inform himself about the PLDC BEFORE he voted to approve it - now says he's against it. It appears that he's heard the public's opposition loud and clear and changed his mind for reasons known to him only. I suspect he gauged which way the majority of voters felt - then formed his opinion around that. Typical empty suit.
on October 28,2012 | 12:13PM
Mythman wrote:
The part I like is the OHA gets its cut. What a joke. The state sets up a front outfit to collect what actually belongs to the chiefs and commoners this land was taken from in the maheles. this is the government lands of the kingdom that was never distributed by thirds as per the promise by those using the monarchy to grab aboriginal lands. LAWSUIT!!!!!
on October 28,2012 | 01:54PM
kaipokama wrote:
Rep. Mizuno did the right tihing and that's why his statements are in the paper. Why don't you see any other lawmaker in the paper other than Dela Cruz, because Rep. Mizuno is not afraid and is an honoest lawmaker. Rep. Mizuno saved the department of human services from closing all their offices and saved essential health and human services to over 300,000 needy Hawaii residents. That's why Rep. Mizuno has been voted Legislator of the Year three times. That's why the Star Advertiser endorses Rep. Mizuno.
on October 28,2012 | 09:55PM
MalamaKaAina wrote:
A New Day in Hawaii begins when Abercrombie resigns!
on October 28,2012 | 01:48PM
autumnrose wrote:
which is... NEVER
on October 28,2012 | 02:26PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Abercrombie: listen to the public. NO. Repeal Act 55. Stop ripping off Hawaii.
on October 28,2012 | 04:14PM
kaipokama wrote:
Go Rep. Mizuno - you are honest and no other lawmaker is willing to say they made a mistake. Rep. Mizuno did the right tihing and that's why his statements are in the paper. Why don't you see any other lawmaker in the paper other than Dela Cruz, because Rep. Mizuno is not afraid and is an honoest lawmaker. Rep. Mizuno saved the department of human services from closing all their offices and saved essential health and human services to over 300,000 needy Hawaii residents. That's why Rep. Mizuno has been voted Legislator of the Year three times. That's why the Star Advertiser endorses Rep. Mizuno.
on October 28,2012 | 09:56PM
NOTSHEEP wrote:
This is perhaps the worst piece of legislation I have ever seen. It was passed with no public input and no real public notice or hearings. It has no rules except that it is exempt from everything! which is to say it has no rules. those 5 BOD members and the gov will now be very wealthy men. Will the legislature please save us from this stupidness and repeal Act 55! the gov has sold out to greed and giving the public the shaft!! John Mizuno, I would vote for you if I could. You sound like an honorable man with ethics and principles. I hope all the other lawmakers develop a backbone and undo this BS.
on October 28,2012 | 11:52PM
saveparadise wrote:
I would like to personally thank these protestors. Mahalo for your efforts to save our paradise! We are too easily herded like sheep by the big money machines who buy our politicians........politicians that too easily convince voters that they are for the people and the aina but are actually bought and paid for.
on October 29,2012 | 10:12AM
kaipokama wrote:
Rep. Mizuno i would vote for you too - if I were in your district. I am gald you are not afraid to change your vote and try to repeal this law known as Act 55, which allows the PLDC to approve anything without oversight. Great job Rep. Mizuno - you are honest and I will tell others about this story in the Star Advertiser!
on October 30,2012 | 03:18PM
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