Don’t allow private development of public lands

Hawaii’s citizens understand there are serious budget shortfalls facing our state, and we have empowered our elected representatives to solve this problem.

Many of us, however, firmly disagree that private development of Hawaii’s public lands should be a way to address our debt problem. Rather, instead of becoming its own Realtor, the government should live within its means. Act 55, codified into state law as HRS 171C, created the Public Land Development Corp. to enter into public-private agreements to develop public lands. The law and the application of it thus far is problematic for a variety of reasons and must be repealed.

Specifically, the broad powers that the PLDC has granted to itself have:

* Removed itself from the otherwise lawful need to provide appropriate transparency to the public for planned changes in the land use.

* Cast aside judicious use of environmental and planning code.

* Provided no assurances that the PLDC will produce the results supporting the welfare of Hawaii’s people in terms of social, environmental or economic benefit, or obey county zoning rules and regulations.

As of Jan. 25, 23 bills have been introduced calling for repeal of all or parts HRS 171C (15 from the Senate and eight from the House). The big question is: Which repeal version will pass and what will the actual result be?

Simon Russell