The University of Hawaii has requested that the Department of Land and Natural Resources cancel its existing lease for 11,288 acres on the summit of Mauna Kea, and issue new 65-year leases, according to documents acquired by The Hawaii Independent. The University of Hawaii subleases land on the summit to major universities, corporations, and foreign government for the building and management of telescopes.
In an August 22, 2013 letter from BOR Chair John C. Holzman to DLNR Chair William Aila, Holzman says that “future subleases’ rent will provide a significant portion of the undoing required for UH to carry out its management and stewardship responsibilities.”
This would represent a major shift in UH policy. For the last three decades, UH has charged nominal rent to the corporations and universities that have build the twenty-plus telescopes on the summit. Some are charged $1 per year, according to the DLNR documents, or no rent at all, with the UH simply receiving research time on the telescopes.
Lynne Waters, Associate Vice President for External Affairs and University Relations for the University of Hawaii System, in response to a request for information about potential new subleases, said:
There is no proposed sublease of land on Mauna Kea for the Thirty Meter Telescope at this time. When there is a proposed sublease, it will come to the University of Hawaii Board of Regents for approval and will be noticed for public review and comment in advance of that meeting.