PLDC approves strategic plan

David Kimo Frankel, Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation attorney: "It's an empty gesture."

The Public Land Development Corporation approved their strategic plan today – a document which lays out the intent of the board, but doesn’t carry the weight of law.

The plan signifies the intentions of the board to behave in certain ways:

PLDC shall comply with the following laws:
-  Haw. Rev. Stat. Chap. 343 (Environmental Impact Statement)
-  Haw. Rev. Stat. Chap. 6E (Historic Preservation)
-  Haw. Rev. Stat. Chap. 92 (Sunshine Law)
-  Haw. Rev. Stat. Chap. 104 (Wage and Hours)
-  Haw. Rev. Stat. Chap. 171-64.7 (Restriction on sale of ceded lands)
-  Haw. Rev. Stat. Chap. 444 (Contractors)

PLDC will pay OHA any ceded land revenues as required by HRS section 10- 13.5

Property ownership will always remain with the State or County
Management and projects shall comply with title agency conditions

Revenues for DLNR or any other title agency shall be retained or increased with any transfer of management

Eighty-five percent of the State’s share of generated net revenues shall go to the title agency or agencies

Each identified state parcel must have approval from the BLNR or title agency prior to the PLDC participation subject to HRS Chapter 92 (Hawaii Sunshine Law)

PLDC will not develop agricultural lands eligible for designation as Important Agricultural Lands (IAL)

PLDC will comply with conditions required by the County for infrastructure connection

Sherman Wong, representing the General Contractors Association, spoke in support of the strategic plan, saying that “the PLDC is a valuable agency that will move these projects forward.”

Jocelyn Doane, senior advocacy for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, pointed out discrepancies between a flowchart that the PLDC created to illustrate their processes, and draft rules discussed in public meetings in August. Doane argued for the inclusion of protections for conservation districts and special management areas. Statements in the strategic plan should be added to the administrative rules,” or it won’t be enforceable.”

Mililani Trask spoke in support of the PLDC’s strategic plan, saying that it is necessary to protect Big Island papaya farmers from infestations of a white fly. Trask noted that the Association of Hawaiian Civic Club will be discussing a resolution regarding the PLDC at their conference in Washington DC this weekend.

“We’ll be coming in with something – and it won’t be for repeal,” Trask said.

Patricia Medina Talbert, attorney for geothermal developer IDG and a former New Jersey judge, spoke in support of the strategic plan. She
said that the PLDC’s administrative rules should be stronger, so that conflicts of interest cannot be waived. Talbert also opposed the position of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, which she characterized as saying that the strategic plan has no legal significance.

“The flowchart and strategic plan are an effort to be transparent,” Talbert said.

Henry Curtis, executive director of environmental advocacy group Life of the Land, said that it makes more sense to hold hearings on both the administrative rules and the strategic plan, so that they stay consistent.

Robert Harris, executive director of the Hawaii chapter of the Sierra Club, said that the strategic plan is an attempt to respond to public criticism. The plan has no legal significance and needs to be transferred into rules, he said.

David Kimo Frankel, attorney with the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, said, “If you really mean it, you’d include it in your proposed rules.”

“It’s an empty gesture,” he said.

Concluding public testimony on the strategic plan, the PLDC board voted on its approval, which which passed unanimously.