comments on proposed administrative rules for Public Land Development Corporation
for hearing Monday, August 20, 2012, 6 PM, Waiakea High School Cafeteria, Hilo
by Cory Harden, PO Box 10265, Hilo, Occupied Hawai’i 96721 808-968-8965 firstname.lastname@example.org
The “21st Century Mahele”. That’s what some people are calling PLDC. PLDC was snuck into a bill at the tail end of a State legislative session with no chance for public testimony. Senators Solomon and Dela Cruz want to use PLDC to support geothermal and building in rural areas.
Hawai’i has other quasi-governmental development agencies, like the Hawai’i Community Development Authority and Aloha Tower Development Corporation. They have a poor track record of repeated problems.
PLDC is jumping the gun, perhaps illegally, on two counts.
· First, PLDC is acting on projects even though these rules are not finalized. That means no direction on how PLDC operates, and no criteria for selecting projects-a perfect setup for sweetheart deals.
· Second, PLDC is acting on projects before doing an inventory, as required, of all public lands.
Under the most appalling draft rules, these scenarios are allowed:
· PLDC can take land and terminate leases. 302-27(9), 303-38
· There’s only one hearing, with only six days’ notice, at the Board of Land and Natural Resources, for leases, and transferring land and development rights, from the state to private entities.
· Projects can ignore state and county land use designations, zoning ordinances, building codes; community development plans; and other legal requirements. 302-27 (10) (12) (15)
· Neighbors of projects can be forced to install costly underground utilities on just 30 days’ notice. If they don’t, state or private workers can come on their property and do the work. The project neighbor gets the bill and just 30 days to pay. If they don’t, the state requires installment payments. If those aren’t made, there’s a penalty, and PLDC can put a lien on the property. You’d need a lawyer to contest anything. 303-11, 303-12, 303-21, 303-24, 303-25, 303-53, 303-54,
· Project neighbors can be also forced to build and fix sidewalks.
· Decisions can be made by just two PLDC members meeting behind closed doors. (Instead, four should be required for a vote to meet in executive session, and for a quorum. 301-6 , 301-9)
· Taxpayer money will bankroll private development (issuing bonds, investing for seed capital, providing grants and loans and other monetary assistance, buying securities to assist developers) 302-52, 302-61)
· PLDC can invest more than half a million dollars in a private enterprise, and can own more than half of the enterprise. 302-63, 302-68
In short, PLDC seriously oversteps the bounds of government. It sells out the ‘aina, the culture, and the people to local and transnational corporations. PLDC should be abolished.
More than half of Hawai’i’s people want more land preservation, not more development, according to a recent Civil Beat poll.
There should be a mechanism to evaluate the cumulative impact of multiple projects done by PLDC and others.
Criteria for selecting projects should be more specific to avoid bribes, favoritism, and other devious actions.
PLDC should be required to get county input on proposals.
PLDC should be sure there is legal access to adequate water for projects.
The presiding officer for a hearing should be an independent hearing officer, not the chairperson or their representative. 301-2
There should be a right to hearing if an action or decision for a remote area, like Mauna Kea or a forest reserve, affects the public in general. 301-51 (b)
Developers who have been sanctioned or who broke the law-especially ethical, environmental, land use, safety, labor, or civil rights laws-should be prohibited from working with PLDC. 302-24
PLDC should be required to do hearings on the affected island re. proposals. 302-28
At least three public meetings near the affected area should be held for proposals for coastal lands.
PLDC should be required to hold developers to promises. This will address PLDC’s conflict of interest if developers break promises, since PLDC will lose money if a project fails. Past broken promises: Hokulia, Ko Olina, Haseko ‘Ewa Maine, Knudsen’s Village, Turtle Bay. 302-32
Projects should “not unduly burden existing water systems, sewage and other waste disposal systems, transportation systems, roadway, drainage, street lighting, open spaces, parks, and other recreational areas, public utilities, and public services” or should include “as part of the proposed project, the development of such systems, facilities, and services at reasonable cost” 302-35 (8)
Projects should have no significant impact under the National Environmental Policy Act. 302-35 (8)
PLDC should research the environmental and legal record of each enterprise. 302-65
PLDC should not assist developers with fees. 302-68
Counties should not face unexpected burdens from improvements built by PLDC and transferred to the county. 303-40
Counties and water departments should not be required to pay for water and sewer connections, roads, sidewalks, street lights, and other improvements. 303-40, 303-41
Water departments should not face unexpected burdens from improvements built by PLDC and transferred to the departments. 303-41