As the Public Land Development Corp. considers a set of revised rules for its activities, citizens are keeping up a drumbeat to repeal Act 55, which created the controversial agency.
The issue is shaping up as a conflict between those who view the PLDC as a tool for stimulating the economy, and those who see it as a means for accelerating development with little oversight by the public and government agencies.
“When you look at countries like Spain, Greece, what they’re going through, ladies and gentleman, I think it’s really clear that we have to be looking toward opportunity and not knocking something that hasn’t even presented its first project,” said Shannon Alivado, testifying to the PLDC board Nov. 13 on behalf of the General Contractors Assn.
Jocelyn Doane, senior public policy advocate for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, said the revised rules fail to address concerns that OHA and others raised in the first round of hearings. “There’s been little change in the rules that would ensure transparency, due diligence and accountability in PLDC projects, community input on proposals carried out by PLDC, . . . consultation with applicable agencies . . . and cultural sensitivity for all projects,” Doane testified.
Gary Hooser, who is on leave from his post as director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control and was just elected to the Kauai County Council, noted that while the proposed rules expect PLDC projects to comply with Chapter 343, that statute merely requires the disclosure of environmental impacts, not their mitigation. Hooser also said he was “very disturbed” that the PLDC held only one hearing, in Honolulu. An estimated 80 to 90 percent of the land falling under PLDC’s purview is on the neighbor islands, and “a third of the state’s population has been left out of the process,” Hooser said.
“We are expected to put our trust in an agency that seems to be unable or unwilling to comprehend the level of value the public places in genuine good-faith community dialogue,” Maui resident Mahina Martin testified, adding that it was unfair for neighbor islanders to have to bear the cost of flying to Oahu to be heard.
The Board did not take any action on its revised rules.