House Takes Steps to Address PLDC
By Wendy Osher
The House Committee on Water and Land has scheduled a hearing on Saturday, Feb. 9, to address issues surrounding the controversial Public Land Development Corporation.
Committee members say the hearing is being held in response to public frustration over the manner in which the body was created, how its rules were promulgated, the “broad powers” granted to the organization, and “lack of public input” in the process.
Rep. Kaniela Ing of South Maui said that while he recognizes the need for increased state revenues and improved public land efficiencies, he said “the goals must be achieved without posing a threat of undermining public input or skirting environmental regulations.”
The committee will weigh in on possible abolishment of the PLDC, or alternatives to achieve the original intent to generate revenue from public land. The committee will hear bills that will either repeal the PLDC altogether, amend, or start from scratch to create a new agency.
“The people I have spoken with on Maui who understand the implications of PLDC support a full repeal,” said Rep. Ing. “The people, especially on the neighbor islands, are saying ‘try again’ – we, as lawmakers, need to listen to them.”
Rep. Cindy Evans who chairs the committee said she is approaching the issue from the standpoint of repeal. “The PLDC cannot exist as is, something has to change; however, I am open to options and the most compelling argument will move forward,” she said.
Rep. Nicole Lowen, vice-chair of the Committee on Water and Land said, “My community has expressed serious concerns about the PLDC, particularly about exemptions from planning, zoning and environmental laws. This legislation was passed with very little public oversight the first time around, and, this time, the public deserves to have a voice in the political process.”
Meanwhile, a bill that appears to amend much of the wording of the legislation and change the name from Public Land Development Corporation to “Harbor and Parks Development Authority” is House Bill 942. The bill was introduced by House Speaker Joe Souki of Maui and is scheduled to be heard today, Jan. 30.