Governor: PLDC Repeal Possible if Public Backing Weak

January 18, 2013, 8:12 AM HST · Updated January 18, 9:58 AM
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PLDC hearing on O'ahu. There was also an overflow area set up outside the room with a TV screen for those that were unable to fit in the public hearing room. Photo courtesy Mahina Martin.

PLDC hearing on O’ahu in Novmeber. There was also an overflow area set up outside the room with a TV screen for those that were unable to fit in the public hearing room. Photo courtesy Mahina Martin.

By Wendy Osher

A month after deferring action on rules surrounding the controversial Public Land Development Corporation, Governor Neil Abercrombie said public understanding and support are essential—without it he said, there is a possibility that repeal will ensue.

The governor said he still believes the legislative intent of Act 55 has the potential to support using public lands for public purposes that otherwise would not have sufficient funding; however, he said, “the administrative rules process may not be able to reconcile existing support with opposing views to the extent necessary to satisfy outstanding concerns.”

In a statement released on Thursday afternoon, Gov. Abercrombie said:

“The Hawaii State Legislature may need to adjust Act 55 so that its good intention can be implemented appropriate to the goals of this law. Public understanding and support are essential. If the Legislature cannot achieve this outcome, the possibility of repeal will ensue. I will take that outcome into consideration but we cannot walk away, should that occur, without a solution that moves us forward.

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He concluded saying, “As always, we will continue to work closely with the Legislature. We need to work together to achieve what is best for Hawaii.”

Public testimony was received in a statewide hearing on Oahu in November to discuss proposed administrative rules for the PLDC.  During the hearing, opponents and supporters alike expressed heated sentiment over the establishment of the agency and its impact on the people of Hawai’i.

PLDC Watch founder, Mahina Martin of Maui spoke out against the Governor’s statement saying she does not consider it a “step forward.”

“Adjusting and fixing Act 55 through amendments does not hold promise that Hawaii will end up with a better law, a law that has outraged thousands of people across Hawaii, in particular the neighbor islands,” said Martin.

Supporters of the repeal fear that public lands will be targeted for commercialization and local zoning laws and building codes will be disregarded under the PLDC. Concerns have also been expressed over the placement of such large land decisions in the hands of a few.

Decisions, Martin said, “will rest with a five-member Oahu-based Board while an estimated 80% of public lands are located on the neighbor islands.”

Martin said that by merely amending Act 55, the state could end up with what she called “reactive legislation that is also poorly designed.”

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