Hawaiian Homes Commission Chair Comments on House Bill 499
The state legislature passed House Bill 499, which gives the Board of Land and Natural Resources the authority to extend certain leases of public lands for commercial, industrial, resort, mixed-use, or government use by 40 years.
“The legislature finds that many of the leases for commercial, industrial, resort, mixed-use, and government properties on public land statewide may be nearing the end of the lease term,” according to language in the bill. “Faced with the uncertainty of continued tenancy, lessees have little incentive to make major investments in infrastructural improvements and ensure the long-term maintenance of the facilities. As a result, the infrastructure on these properties has been deteriorating.”
The action would also require the approval of a proposed development agreement to make substantial improvements to the existing improvements.
Hawaiian Homes Commission Chair William J. Ailā, Jr. said, “Over a decade ago the legislature passed Act 187 as an amendment to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act allowing the Hawaiian Homes Commission to extend General Leases for an additional 20 years or an 85-year maximum if certain improvements and lease increases were met.” He notes that: what would be Section 228 of the HHCA has since been under review by the Department of the Interior.
According to Ailā, Jr., “DHHL did not propose HB 499, nor was it included in the Department’s legislative package that was approved by the Hawaiian Homes Commission in late 2020.” He further explained that under the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, the Hawaiian Homes Commission has the authority over how Hawaiian Home Lands are leased.
“The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has a robust Beneficiary Consultation process for all parcels that have been identified for revenue generation. This process adds to the existing Beneficiary Consultation that DHHL conducts when developing its Island Plans alongside native Hawaiian beneficiaries,” he said.
Regardless of whether or not the Governor signs this measure into law, Ailā, Jr. said, “the Hawaiian Homes Commission and its beneficiaries will chart the path forward in generating revenue from available lands to develop future homesteads.”
For more information on the Department’s legislative initiatives, are available here.