Opinion: Public Land Development Corporation a potential threat to ‘ceded lands’

The objective of StatehoodHawaii.org is to present various perspectives of Hawaii and statehood and to explore the process and conditions that led to the 50th state.

In this essay, StatehoodHawaii.org’s Arnie Saiki sends a warning about Senate Bill 1555, which establishes the Public Land Development Corporation to administer an “appropriate and culturally-sensitive” public land development program.

Saiki writes: “In order for Hawaii to participate in this ‘regional’ market, the State has to deregulate our environmental and land- use safeguards in order to lease out our resources, and make it attractive for investors and stakeholders.”

Saiki describes how the Public Land Development Corporation will establish a Public Land Optimization Plan that will create public-private investment opportunities to develop all public lands currently under the authority of DLNR, which could include the controversial “ceded” lands, the roughly 1.8 million acres of Crown Lands that were “ceded” to the Territory and transferred to the administration of the State of Hawaii during statehood.

“When we privatize public lands to transnationals, disputes of rights and violations become much more difficult,” Saiki says. “Keeping public lands public, at least constitutionally, guarantees our rights to resolve disputes. Transnational privatization and the leasing of our resources make dispute resolutions very costly and difficult. When the people have a dispute with transnationals under which court will disputes be heard? In SB 1555, the Public Land Development Corporations writes that it can ‘sue and be sued,’ as the first power of the corporation, as if this qualification offers a salve of protection or remedy to violations or disputes.”

To read the essay in its entirety, click here