Joint Statement Issued on Jurisdiction of Maunakea Access Road
The Department of the Attorney General, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, and Department of Transportation issued a joint statement on Friday regarding the jurisdiction of Maunakea Access Road.
The three departments concur that Maunakea Access Road is under the control and jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation citing a reference to Hawaiʻi Revised Statue § 26-19 and HRS Ch. 264.
“DOT has control and jurisdiction over all state highways and Maunakea Access Road is designated to DOT’s State Highway System as Route 210. This includes any portions of the road that cross over DHHL land,” according to the statement.
The statement comes as the anti-TMT movement stationed at the base of Maunakea Access Road rounds out a seventh week.
The demonstration grew out of opposition to the Thirty Meter Telescope and beliefs that further development atop the mountain would result in desecration of a site considered by some in the Native Hawaiian community to be sacred.
“State DOT has controlled and maintained Mauna Kea Access Road since it became part of our highways system in 2018,” said DOT Deputy Director Ed Sniffen. “Prior to that time, sections of the road situated on Hawaiian home lands were maintained by the County of Hawai‘i pursuant to a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between DHHL and the County of Hawai‘i.”
The departments contend that “Beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 do not own Mauna Kea Access Road. Act 14 (1995) resolved all claims concerning the use of Hawaiian home lands for public roads and highways built before and after statehood.”
In response to concerns that some compensation remains outstanding, department officials say “DHHL and the Department of Land and Natural Resources have been working together to evaluate the terms of compensation and to confirm that it has been made in full.”
“This process, however, does not alter the fact that all claims regarding use of roads and highways crossing DHHL lands have been resolved,” according to the joint statement.
“Act 14 was a historic piece of legislation,” said Hawaiian Homes Commission Chair William J. Aila Jr. “It resolved long-standing claims associated with the use of Hawaiian home lands. We remain committed to seeing the completion of the few remaining items under Act 14, including ensuring that compensation for the use of roads and highways crossing DHHL lands has been received in full.”
“The State is reviewing the compensation issues related to the use of Hawaiian home lands for public roads and highways, and will ensure they have been addressed,” stated Attorney General Clare E. Connors. “The public is reminded that Mauna Kea Access Road is a public road controlled by DOT and that the current blockade is unlawful.”
According to the joint statement, “At this time, DOT has restricted access on Maunakea Access Road to preserve public health and safety, and to carry out its responsibilities under HRS Ch. 264.”