Crown Lands Settlement Signed into Law
By Wendy Osher
The widely discussed crown/ceded lands settlement between the state and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs was signed into law today during a ceremony at Washington Place.
The Act serves to address claims of past due revenues owed by the state to OHA for the period between November 7, 1978 and June 30, 2012.
“Settling this longstanding issue was a top priority for me and for my Administration,” said Governor Neil Abercrombie in a statement today. “This agreement that is now law, took a lot of hard work and collaboration. I appreciate all those who took the time to make this right, including the Legislature for making sure that all sides were heard.”
OHA Board of Trustees Chairwoman Colette Machado said the OHA Board of Trustees is grateful to the Governor and the Legislature for making the item a priority, the Kaka’ako community for their stewardship of the area, and to those who supported the bill.
“We are committed to making sure the land is used in a responsible way that will benefit the entire community,” said Chair Machado. “We will balance cultural and environmental considerations with the need to support programs that benefit the Native Hawaiian community,” she said in a statement following the ceremonial signing.
The settlement represents nearly three decades of work towards an agreement. It conveys contiguous and adjacent parcels in Kaka’ako Makai valued at $200 million to OHA to help in resolving the dispute over past due revenues. The parcels include Fisherman’s Wharf.
State officials say the settlement has no effect on claims related to sovereignty, or claims related to ceded lands receipts after July 2012, which are currently governed by Act 178 (2006).
Pursuant to that Act, OHA’s current annual share of crown/ceded land receipts is $15.1 million.
Settlement Terms and Conditions
Under the settlement, the lands will remain under the jurisdiction of the Hawai’i Community Development Authority. The lands will also continue to be subject to HCDA’s zoning and land use conditions.
According to state officials, the State is not giving up any mineral, surface or ground water rights to the land. The State will also continue to have access rights and easements as reasonably necessary for the benefit and use of its adjoining properties.
Current leases remain valid and will be passed to OHA. Once the leases expire, OHA will be able to decide how to proceed, consistent with HCDA’s master plans and rules.
Under the agreement, OHA will release, waive and discharge any and all claims that it, and any other person or entity, might make to ceded lands receipts under article XII, sections 4 and 6 of the Constitution, or any related statute or law, for the period from 1978 to July 1, 2012.
Under the State Constitution, a portion of the income and proceeds derived from the crown/ceded lands are to be used by OHA to better the conditions of native Hawaiians.
Since 1978, OHA has made claims for payments and has filed several lawsuits to assert these claims. Ultimately, it was left up to the legislature to determine what constituted the appropriate portion of the income and proceeds to be given to OHA to administer.
*** Supporting information courtesy Office of the Governor, State of Hawai’i.