H.B. NO.














relating to public land development corporation.





     SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that the predecessor of the department of land and natural resources was created in 1959 to develop state lands and stimulate the newly created State's economy.  As a result, decades of unchecked development led to public outcry.  In the decades that followed statehood, the State adopted laws that clearly redefined a new, modern, and relevant mission for the department:  to conserve, protect, and enhance the State's natural and cultural resources.  The new mission of the department is greatly strengthened by the many opportunities for public input and oversight of department decision making.  The resulting transparency due to public oversight results in public support and faith in the mission of the department.  When dealing with public lands, such trust is of paramount importance.

     Act 55, Session Laws of Hawaii 2011, codified as chapter 171C, Hawaii Revised Statutes, established the public land development corporation to be the development arm of the department of land and natural resources, with the intent that it administer an appropriate and culturally-sensitive public land development program to help develop recreational and leisure centers for residents and visitors, and create revenue-generating opportunities to fund environmental and resource preservation functions of the department of land and natural resources.

     However, some of the most controversial aspects of Act 55 were not adequately vetted by the public.  When introduced, Act 55 did not provide exemptions from any permitting or zoning laws.  The exemptions were first introduced by the Senate Water Land and Housing Committee on March 18, 2011.  The only opportunity for stakeholders to testify publicly on the new exemptions thereafter was during the Senate Finance Committee hearing on April 7, 2011, at 2:30 p.m.  However, notice of that hearing was not posted until 12:35 p.m. on April 7, 2011, a mere two hours before the hearing was to begin.  Only two testifiers submitted testimony for the hearing and both were marked as being submitted late.

     Act 55 was ultimately amended, without opportunity for public testimony, to exempt the public land development corporation from all statutes, ordinances, charter provisions, and rules of government agencies 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 thereon for development of public lands to generate revenues.  Based upon concerns relating to the expansive powers granted to the public and development corporation and the exemptions to important environmental and land use and other laws, many individuals and organizations on all islands have expressed opposition to the corporation and urged its repeal.  The county councils for Hawaii and Kauai recently passed resolutions urging the abolishment of the public land development corporation.  The Maui county council is considering similar opposition.  Some neighborhood boards on Oahu have also passed resolutions urging the repeal of Act 55.

     With the establishment of the public land development corporation, there are now two disconnected agencies that oversee public lands.  The public land development corporation, which is tasked with developing public land to maximize revenue with no obligation to balance the interest of resource conservation, and the board of land and natural resources, which is tasked with protecting public lands but has no authority to prevent or modify development of state lands by the public land development corporation.  This two board system obliterates any semblance of checks and balances relating to the appropriate development of public lands.

     The legislature further finds that the powers and exemptions granted to the public land development corporation pose a significant and untenable threat to the environmental health of the State.  Specifically, section 171C-19, Hawaii Revised Statues, makes public land development corporation projects exempt from numerous statutes, ordinances, charter provisions, and rules intended to ensure appropriate and sustainable development and protect environmental quality, including:

     (1)  Chapter 205, Hawaii Revised Statutes, relating to land use;

     (2)  Chapter 205A, Hawaii Revised Statutes, relating to coastal zone management;

     (3)  Chapter 183C, Hawaii Revised Statutes, relating to conservation districts;

     (4)  County zoning requirements; and

     (5)  County subdivision ordinances and rules.

     The Hawaii supreme court has clearly defined chapter 205, Hawaii Revised Statutes, as a law relating to environmental quality.  This chapter has been instrumental in protecting Pohue Bay, O'oma, Kealakekua, and Waianae from inappropriate development.

     The court has described chapter 205A, Hawaii Revised Statutes, the State's coastal zone management act, as a comprehensive state regulatory scheme to protect the environment and resources of our shoreline areas.  This chapter has been instrumental in preserving Pauoa Bay, Na'alehu, and many other special places from inappropriate development.

     Conservation laws under chapter 183C, Hawaii Revised Statutes, county zoning requirements, and subdivision ordinances are clearly intended to prevent the deterioration of our communities by preserving, enhancing, and improving the environment.  These regulations have been instrumental in conserving sensitive environmental areas including, Wa'ahila Ridge, Pao'o, Honoli'i, and Ewa Beach.

     Exempting the development of state lands by the public land development corporation from land use and zoning laws may put at great risk the public's interest in preserving the State's lands and natural resources.

     The purpose of this Act is to repeal chapter 171C, Hawaii Revised Statutes.

     SECTION 2.  Chapter 171C, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is repealed.

     SECTION 3.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval.








Report Title:

Public Land Development Corporation; Repeal



Repeals chapter 171C, HRS, relating to the public land development corporation.




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