The head of the Department of Land and Natural Resources today announced the formation of a task force to recommend changes to its controversial revocable permit program, saying she expects the revisions to be in place by the end of June.
“This panel of experts will focus on the reasons for revocable permits versus leases or other dispositions, on opportunities for competition, the duration of revocable permit terms, pricing (including establishment of value and any reasons for discounted value) and a review of all current long-term revocable permits,” DLNR Chairwoman Suzanne Case said in a news release.
Today’s announcement comes days after a front-page story Sunday in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that exposed numerous problems with the program, which is designed for the temporary, month-to-month use of state land.
The newspaper found dozens of permits that were decades old, including some that have not had their discounted rents changed since the 1990s. The Star-Advertiser also disclosed that the program has been operating without any administrative rules.
The task force formation also comes on the heels of a controversial bill being considered at the Legislature that critics say would circumvent a January court ruling. A state judge in a water rights case found that four revocable permits held by Alexander & Baldwin Inc. for more than a dozen years were invalid, saying they did not comply with the state law about temporary usage.
The task force formation also was prompted by concerns raised in December by DLNR board members, who approved a staff request to renew in bulk a list of more than 300 revocable permits. But some board members questioned that approach and the duration of some permits.
A DLNR spokesman said all three factors contributed to the formation of the task force.
The department’s announcement said the eight-member group will identify best practices, update the board on its review process and propose specific permits for reconsideration. The group also is expected to recommend administrative rules to govern the program.
The task force is scheduled to report its findings to the Legislature by the end of April, and the new practices are expected to be in place by the end of June, according to the department.
The task force will include:
>> Chris Yuen, a board member from the Big Island;
>> Paula Harris, a real estate professional;
>> Scott Glenn of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control;
>> Jeff Pearson, a DLNR water deputy.
Representatives of the department’s divisions for land, boating and ocean recreation; state parks; and forestry and wildlife also will be on the panel.