On Tuesday, Hawaii will have a window of opportunity to move closer to shutting the door on the Public Land Development Corp.
On that day, a hearing before the House of Representatives on House Bill 1133 will be before the Committee on Water and Land. HB1133 proposes to repeal the PLDC, an agency under the Department of Land and Natural Resources created by Act 55, which was intended to generate money for the DLNR through the commercialization of public lands. Act 55 identified commercialization opportunities as time shares, parking lots, hotels and golf courses as examples.
Some of Maui's public lands under the state's responsibility include Makena Beach, Waianapanapa and Iao Valley state parks and Kahului Harbor.
There are many flaws with the PLDC. While 80 percent of the lands that suddenly became vulnerable under the powerful PLDC are on the Neighbor Islands, the authority to accept and proceed with development of commercial projects sits with an appointed five-member Oahu-based PLDC board of directors. Appointees are specifically chosen for their expertise in finance. The PLDC, by law, is allowed to bypass local county zoning laws and select contractors who have no ties to Hawaii - all in the name of expediting commercialization opportunities.
The salaries and expenses of the PLDC are currently paid with funds from Hawaii's Legacy Land Conservation Fund, which gets a percentage of the conveyance taxes the public pays. The Legacy Land Conservation Fund exists to protect and preserve land areas such as watersheds, coastal lands and culturally significant sites such as heiau. This fund was not created to advocate and pursue the commercialization of public lands, yet it is being used to pay for these efforts.
A quick Internet search on the PLDC in Hawaii can give readers much more information.
If you agree that our public lands should not be subjected to such an authority as the PLDC, whose mission is to seek out and approve commercialization projects on public lands in a manner that unfairly excludes the Neighbor Islands and seriously lacks meaningful community engagement, send email at least 24 hours before Tuesday's 1:20 p.m. hearing to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Have your subject line read: Repeal PLDC - Support HB1133.
You can also go to www.capitol.hawaii.gov and support HB1133 through online testimony. Simply tell Hawaii's elected state legislators that you want them to pass HB1133. No more amendments, no more discussions. Enough already.
* Mahina Martin is the founder of PLDC Watch and a member of the Hawaii Alliance, a coalition of representatives from organizations on every island fighting to repeal the PLDC. She lives in Wailuku.