Concerned citizens gathered at the Kalanimoku Building across the street from the state capitol on Aug. 29, where a hearing about the new Public Lands Development Corporation (PLDC) was in session. The protestors added their voice to the growing chorus of opposition to a new state law that formed the PLDC, which could let the state sell or lease public lands to developers.
The hotel workers' union, UNITE HERE Local 5, has been speaking out for months about the new law, which not only allows the state to sell off public land, but which could also allow state officials to exempt developers from several permits and public hearings. Local 5 members announced in a statement their plan to join in testifying about how the law hurts the public's rights to have a say about development.
Act 55, passed by the Hawai'i State Legislature in 2011, created the Public Lands Development Corporation (PLDC), a branch of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources set up to lease or sell state-owned land to developers. The law allows the PLDC's five-member board to exempt any project from many land use, environmental and even building permits.
Since it is a new agency, the PLDC is currently crafting its administrative rules for how it will run. Local 5 has pointed out problems with several of the draft rules, including one that would allow the PLDC to waive its own rules.
The hearing on the Aug. 29 was the fifth of six hearings statewide about the draft rules. In the previous four hearings, hundreds of individuals and groups protested the PLDC and called for its repeal, according to a statement from Local 5. Local 5 members have attended and spoken at the hearings in Hilo, Kona and Kahului.