Land Development Agency Gets Rough Reception
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by Dave Smith
Well over 100 people showed up to testify tonight at a hearing held by the Department of Land and Natural Resources on proposed rules for the Public Land Development Corporation.
Much of the testimony focused not on the rules itself but on the mission of the PLDC, a quasi-state agency established by the Legislature in 2011 to develop public-private partnerships to generate revenues from state lands.
The testimony was often emotional, with much of it highly critical of the PLDC’s authority to bypass county zoning and other land-use requirements.
At one point the corporation was compared to Nazis.
“Shame on you,” said one man testifying, eliciting more cries of “shame” from the audience.
“How stupid do you think the people of Hawaii are that they would accept this dog-and-pony show?” said Ike Payne. He predicted that the DLNR would hear no supporting testimony as it holds hearings across the state.
Many of those speaking said they believed their testimony was futile, and that it would not be considered in the rule-making.
The Sierra Club has roused its members to testify against the rules which it calls “fundamentally flawed.”
This is in direct conflict with state law as it applies to planning,” said Puna resident Jon Olson. “You’re not going to get away with it.”
Jonathan Ota said he would not have a “dictator agency” in his state.
Robert Petricci drew rousing applause when he tore up a copy of the rules at the conclusion of his testimony.
Saying she didn’t want to see the Big Island turn into “another Oahu,” Sara Steiner said that Petricci had the right idea.
“Yeh, shove it,” she said to DLNR representatives holding the meeting.
A shouting match ensued when the DLNR staff asked another testifier to refrain from profanity.
Bill 1955, which established the corporation and was signed into law as Act 55 by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, was approved in the Senate on a 23-1 vote, with Sen. Les Ihara casting the only vote in opposition. It passed the House on a 30-9 vote.
According to Act 55, the corporation would serve as the “development arm” of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. “Public lands in certain areas may serve the state and its people better if managed and developed into suitable recreational and leisure centers…,” the law states.
Lloyd Haraguchi, the corporation’s executive director, has tentatively proposed three projects for the corporation to pursue, including one on the Big Island.
The Board of Land and Natural Resources must approve any transfers of state land to the corporation.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Haraguchi told the crowd that all of the comments collected statewide would be summarized and resulting questions would be answered.
“We heard you, loud and clear,” he said.
Another meeting was scheduled for Tuesday at the Konawaena High School cafeteria in Kealakekua.