HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TWENTY-SEVENTH LEGISLATURE, 2014
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
RELATING TO COMMUNITY-BASED EDUCATIONAL RETREATS.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The legislature finds that there are educational retreat communities within Hawaii that demonstrate and have been recognized for the provision of nature, culture, wellness, and sustainable living experiences in the spirit of ohana and aloha. These retreats help provide for an area's needs for agricultural food production, education, employment, energy, recreation, services, supplies, and safety. Educational retreats exist in remote rural areas on lands of minimum agricultural value and these retreats can demonstrate revitalized and augmented traditional sustainable living methods that promote agricultural production and provide economic as well as educational benefits to local residents. Retreat operations can provide essential services in remote areas where government services and facilities are minimal or inaccessible, and where economic stimulus is urgently needed due to various factors (such as soils classified as poor for agricultural use, coqui frog infestation, and volcanic activity) that minimize home and land values and have contributed to the rapid population growth and high rates of unemployment and impoverishment.
The legislature further finds that there is a need for rural educational retreats that:
(1) Revitalize ahupuaa heritage by employing native and other supportive personnel, facilities, and programs;
(2) Use traditional methods and new knowledge in supporting thriving, healthy, and happy ohana;
(3) Build soil augmentation and reef conservation efforts through agriculture, permaculture, aquaculture, horticulture, organic farming, and native plant-forest protection and augmentation;
(4) Support local residents and visitors of varying abilities and economic means in the research and experience of sustainable living, including creating and living in eco-sustainable homes and gardens using native and renewable materials such as bamboo; and
(5) Demonstrate ike loa long-range planning for future generations, supportive of the State of Hawaii 2050 sustainability goals and the strategies outlined in the federal Environmental Protection Agency's February 2012 publication entitled, "Essential Smart Growth Fixes for Rural Planning, Zoning, and Development Codes."
A community-based kupuna retreat for teaching ecology would expand awareness and appreciation of the heritage and environment of Hawaii while also providing a sustainable economy for rural areas and residents that are most in need of agricultural food production, education, employment, energy, recreation, safety, supplies, and services. This Act will allow and encourage sustainable, educational eco-retreat projects, funded privately or otherwise, to research new and expand upon current and native traditional methods of living in harmony with nature. This Act will also create a doorway through existing limitations of traditional codes and special use permits to support the development of more sustainable methods of living, allowing greater implementation of county and state sustainable living policies, including the promotion of food and energy self-sufficiency in a manner exemplified by educational retreats that engage local businesses, vendors, farmers, and fishermen.
Educational retreats are inspired by kupuna heritage in teaching an eco-aware harmony with nature that helps participants create and achieve their personal best, with love for life, respect for others, and care for home, local and global. This Act honors kupuna elderly and ancestors who over the past forty years have helped launch educational retreat operations on traditional ahupuaa community lands in Hawaii, including: Kalapana community leaders Kini Pea, Emma Kauhi, G-Girl Keliihoomalu, Rebecca Pau, Mini Kaawaloa, and Bill Carse, former University of Hawaii Hilo dean; Loretta and Hillary Koob, Minnesota farmers who volunteered decades of winter months in Hawaii supporting sustainable community and agriculture; and Bill Biglow, a surfer and Maui community college information technologist who, inspired by the sustainable practices of indigenous peoples and by legendary demigod Maui's gifts to the people of Hawaii, creates model eco-housing designed to maximize air flow, natural light, and open vistas. The support of these kupuna and others for ohana community living continues in the teaching of ecology provided by educational retreats, including the State's largest retreat -- non-profit Kalani Honua. Kalani Honua has a forty-year history and currently provides fifty community activities per week on a free or contribution basis; has one hundred thirty-five people on staff; supports over five hundred local businesses, craftspeople, vendors, farmers and fishermen; and provides a $10,000,000 annual economic boost to one of the State's fastest-growing and most impoverished districts.
The purpose of the Act is to promote educational retreat properties, programs, and facilities that model the Hawaii 2050 sustainability plan created by the Hawaii 2050 task force pursuant to Act 8, Special Session Laws of Hawaii 2005, which are integrated philosophies that express the sustainable future of Hawaii and include the following principles that reflect a deeply-held sense of where Hawaii should be headed:
(1) Living sustainably is part of our daily practice in Hawaii;
(2) Our diversified and globally competitive economy enables us to meaningfully live, work, and play in Hawaii;
(3) Our natural resources are responsibly and respectfully used, replenished, and preserved for future generations;
(4) Our community is strong, healthy, vibrant, and nurturing, and provides safety nets for those in need; and
(5) Our kanaka maoli, island cultures, and values are thriving and perpetuated.
SECTION 2. The Hawaii Revised Statutes is amended by adding a new chapter to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:
KUPUNA RETREAT EDUCATION ACT FOR TEACHING ECOLOGY
§ -1 Short title. This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the Kupuna Retreat Education Act for Teaching Ecology or as the acronym K.R.E.A.T.E.
§ -2 Definitions. As used in this chapter:
"Ecology" means the totality or pattern of relations between organisms and their environment.
"Educational retreat" means a remote rural farm-campus entity that:
(1) Provides instructional programs on ecology and related topics such as nature, culture, wellness, and sustainable living experiences in the spirit of ohana and aloha to resident students, staff, faculty, and local communities; and
(2) Benefits local and on-campus residents and visitors by providing programs and facilities generally supportive of agricultural food production, education, employment, energy, the economy, recreation, services, supplies and safety.
The term includes retreats that are modeled after traditional cooperative communities to exemplify sustainable living practices, particularly sustainable human ecology.
"Educational retreat permit" means a permit issued by the planning department that designates an area, entity, or project as a bona fide educational retreat and specifies:
(1) The educational programs and facilities, including student, faculty, and staff accommodations, that can be created integral to the site by the permittee; and
(2) The county codes, ordinances, rules, or permits that are not applicable to the permittee, the site, the programs, and facilities.
"Educational retreat site" means an area that is:
(1) Limited to a maximum average resident density of eight persons, whether students, staff, or faculty, per acre and a maximum of five hundred habitable acres in size;
(2) Subject to an educational retreat permit issued by a planning department; and
(3) Subject to federal laws and regulations.
"Permittee" means a person or entity who holds or qualifies for a county or state allowance, such as a special use permit, for an educational retreat operation within a rural area with soil classified by the land study bureau's detailed land classification as overall (master) productivity rating class A or an area identified as "other" rather than "prime" or "unique" pursuant to the agricultural lands of importance of the State of Hawaii (ALISH) classification system.
"Planning commission" means a county planning commission.
"Planning department" means a county planning department.
"Sustainable human ecology" means the ecology of human communities and populations, particularly as it relates to the preservation of environmental quality (as of air, land, and water) through proper application of conservation, planning, permitting, demonstration, education, and implementation practices.
"Sustainable living" means a live-in environment composed of programs, structures, and systems that inherently produce utilities, life-support, and continuing education that act to conserve and augment resources and may include:
(1) The provision of on-site energy needs via renewable resources;
(2) The provision of water needs while minimizing the withdrawals from ground water and surface water systems in accordance with county and state water laws and the rules and policies of county and state engineers;
(3) The provision of sewage treatment needs with minimal discharge;
(4) The reuse of materials discarded by modern society;
(5) The development of organic foods;
(6) The development of renewable fuel; and
(7) The development and testing of affordable and sustainable structures.
§ -3 Application for educational retreat permit; evaluation. (a) A person may obtain an educational retreat permit by submitting an application to the planning department for the county in which the existing or proposed educational retreat site is located. The application shall include:
(1) A detailed description of existing and planned educational retreat programs and facilities;
(2) A site plan of the educational retreat site;
(3) The number of guest students, staff, and faculty inhabitants that occupy or are expected to occupy the educational retreat site;
(4) An assessment of the county codes, ordinances, rules, or permits relating to construction or building requirements, occupancy, zoning, or subdivisions that are not practicable for the specific educational retreat site and that may inhibit existing and proposed programs and facilities, including contemporary adaptations of heritage practices and other sustainable living studies, demonstrations, and models;
(5) An application fee, if any, set by the planning department;
(6) Other information as may be required by rules adopted pursuant to section -6 or by rule of the planning commission or ordinance of the county;
(7) Copies of all required state permits, including the approval of any innovative ecological and sustainable wastewater treatment and disposal technology on an experimental basis; and
(8) An affidavit indemnifying the county and State from liabilities relating to any building exemptions.
(b) Within ten days of receipt of a completed application, the planning department shall forward a copy of the application to the department of health. Upon its receipt of the application, the department of health shall have thirty days to submit comments to the planning department regarding the existing or proposed educational retreat site and to make a determination as to whether the programs and facilities will have a detrimental environmental impact on the educational retreat site or the surrounding area. During the review of the application, the department of health shall also determine whether it is appropriate to grant the applicant a waiver of its rules pertaining to composting toilets and greywater systems, including the department's rules pertaining to individual wastewater systems on agricultural land, and to approve an applicant's self-designed or innovative system, or other system that has not yet been approved. The department of health may grant a waiver if it finds that the proposed system will not have a detrimental impact upon human health or the environment.
§ -4 Application review; decision; permit. (a) Following its review of an application submitted pursuant to section -3, the planning department shall render its decision in writing. The planning department shall issue an educational retreat permit if:
(1) The department of health has determined that the educational retreat land use, programs, and facilities will not have a detrimental environmental impact on the educational retreat site or the surrounding area;
(2) No existing county codes, ordinances, rules, or permits relating to construction or building requirements, occupancy, zoning, or subdivisions, other than those identified in the application, will be violated by the existing or proposed educational retreat site;
(3) The applicant has complied with applicable rules adopted pursuant to section -6 and chapter 91, if any; and
(4) The existing or proposed educational retreat land use, programs, and facilities at the educational retreat site may be beneficial to residents and visitors of the site and surrounding area, and the demonstration and development of sustainable living.
(b) An educational retreat permit shall include:
(1) The specific educational retreat programs, provisions, and facilities that may be included at the educational retreat site;
(2) The maximum number of structures that may be constructed;
(3) The maximum number of individuals that may inhabit or be employees of the educational retreat site;
(4) The specific county codes, ordinances, rules, and permits relating to construction or building requirements, occupancy, zoning, or subdivisions otherwise applicable to the permittee and the educational retreat site but that do not apply to the permittee and educational retreat land use, programs, and facilities conducted pursuant to the permit; and
(5) Other restrictions on the educational retreat site and the permittee's activities as required by rules adopted pursuant to section -6 or chapter 91, if any.
(c) The educational retreat permit shall be filed and recorded in the records of the county clerk, and pursuant to this chapter, all the benefits and burdens of the permit shall run with the land.
(d) If the planning department denies an application for an educational retreat permit or fails to rule on an application within ninety days after the application is filed, within thirty days thereafter the applicant may appeal, to the appropriate planning commission, the planning department's decision or failure to rule.
§ -5 Enforcement of educational retreat permits; amended permits. (a) The permittee, when conducting educational retreat operations as specified in the educational retreat permit, shall comply with all applicable laws and rules except those county codes, ordinances, rules, or permits specified in the permit as inapplicable to the permittee and the operations.
(b) Nothing in this chapter or the educational retreat permit shall be deemed to allow the permittee to appropriate or otherwise use underground or surface water without first obtaining a water rights permit or approval if otherwise required pursuant to chapter 174C. New appropriations of water and water rights transfers shall in no event be exempted from any state water law or rules.
(c) Nothing in this chapter or the educational retreat permit shall be deemed to allow the permittee to avoid preparing an environment assessment or environmental impact statement where the statement or assessment is otherwise required by law.
(d) Relevant employees and agents of the State or the county, at all reasonable times, may enter the educational retreat site for the purpose of inspecting the site and activities conducted on the site to ensure that conditions specified in the educational retreat permit are being met.
(e) The permittee shall annually submit a report to the planning department describing the educational retreat activities conducted during the preceding twelve months and summarizing the results. All information contained in the report and all other information learned from activities pursuant to the educational retreat permit shall be made available to the public.
(f) The planning commission may revoke the educational retreat permit if it finds, after a public hearing, that the permittee has substantially violated an educational retreat permit provision, this chapter, or an applicable rule adopted pursuant to this chapter or chapter 91, and has failed to correct the violation within thirty days of receiving notification of the violation.
(g) A permittee may apply to have an educational retreat permit amended by submitting a new application pursuant to section -3. If the planning department determines that the proposed amendment will substantially alter the educational retreat or activities conducted at the educational retreat site and does not approve those changes, the permittee may appeal to the planning commission.
§ -6 Adoption of ru1es. A planning department may include, as part of the permit issued pursuant to this chapter, special rules and conditions that are consistent with the purpose and provisions of this chapter and other applicable laws and policies. If the applicant is not in agreement with any special rules and conditions imposed by the planning department, the applicant may appeal to the appropriate planning commission."
SECTION 3. No later than , the planning department of each county shall adopt rules pursuant to chapter 91, Hawaii Revised Statutes, regarding the issuance of permits pursuant to this Act.
SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect on September 2, 2838.
Counties; Kupuna Retreat Education Act for Teaching Ecology
Authorizes the use of certain land, subject to county approval and oversight, for educational retreat development, teaching of ecology, the presentation of nature, culture, and wellness programs, and the modeling of sustainable living practices including agriculture and waste and resource management, through planned community use. Effective September 2, 2838. (HB1919 HD1)
The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.