WAILUKU - Maui County Council members unanimously moved forward Friday a resolution urging the state Legislature to repeal its year-old Public Land Development Corp.
State Senate President Shan Tsutsui of Central Maui said he also wants to see the law, commonly known as Act 55, revoked or at least reined in.
The law setting up the corporation passed in three days with Gov. Neil Abercrombie's support. But some lawmakers and residents maintain that it has wasted ceded state lands on public-private developments with no county oversight.
The law is aimed at generating revenue for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
"It's a noble idea and a novel way to do it, but I think it's pretty clear there are concerns about the act across the state," said community advocate Mahina Martin, citing similar county resolutions and public demonstrations. "It allows them to basically circumvent local codes."
The corporation and its appointed members have more authority than the county, and no responsibility to explain itself to the community, Council Member Mike Victorino said.
It's also insensitive to Native Hawaiians, critics said.
On Monday, opponents will hold statewide demonstrations against Act 55, including a rally at the county's Kalana O Maui building from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The DLNR has shifted its focus from "a preservation and conservation role to one of development for money," demonstration organizers said.
Council Member Elle Cochran introduced the resolution, which next will go to the council's Policy Committee. Council Member Don Couch said he expects a lively debate and much public testimony.
But the five-member board's goal is to serve residents and visitors by creating recreation and leisure centers. The panel is led by DLNR Board Chairman William Aila Jr.
A phone message and email to Aila was not immediately returned Friday afternoon.
Cochran said the law endangers parks and open space.
The law states that public lands can be used for parking lots, offices, retail, hotels, homes, time shares developments, storage facilities, garages, gas stations and industry, among other projects. "I will be introducing legislation in the 2013 legislative session to address the PLDC and its problems and shortcomings," Tsutsui wrote on his website.
He said he would propose bills to repeal the law creating the PLDC and another to reduce or eliminate current exemptions from normal processes and procedures.
In her nonbinding resolution, Cochran listed at least a dozen concerns about the statute.
She said that while the law calls for the PLDC to coordinate with county planning departments, the language is "vague." And, there's no mechanism to ensure local cooperation and oversight.
In addition to not having to comply with Maui County regulations regarding land use, zoning, residential workforce housing, building permitting and more, the PLDC won't have to follow the county's master plans, Cochran said. The law will "exacerbate the very problems" the county's been trying to resolve for years, she wrote.
* Chris Hamilton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.