Video by David Corrigan | Voice of Stephanie Salazar
HILO, Hawaii: A resolution urging the state to abolish the controversial Public Land Development Corporation passed through the Hawaii County Council on Wednesday.
Councilmember Brenda Ford introduced the measure, following a recent public outcry over the newly created state agency that will partner with private companies to develop state lands and generate revenues for the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Residents expressed outrage over the corporation at the public hearing held in Hilo a few months ago. The PLDC was created by Act 55 of the state legislature during the first session of the Abercrombie administration. The legislation was one of the first to be signed into law.
Many of the folks who lambasted the PLDC during the hearing were present on Wednesday, in support of Ford’s resolution.
Last year, Senator Donovan Dela Cruz paid a visit to the same council, presenting the idea of the PLDC to the local governing body. Even then, councilmembers were wary.
But that caution has given way to complete resistance to the idea.
During the council meeting, PLDC executive director Lloyd Haraguchi tried to defend the agency; to no avail with some councilmembers.
Others, like Hilo councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi, urged the council to consider the benefits of the PLDC, pointing out how it could benefit the redevelopment of Banyan Drive in Hilo.
But ultimately, the council voted to support the measure.
Meanwhile, today a state-wide “Day of Action” has been planned to show opposition to the Public Land Development Corporation.
One of the call to action emails circulating the internet proclaimed:
Actions taken on this day will allow our voices to be heard and will demonstrate to our State elected officials and to the PLDC Board of Directors that there is broad, deep, and diverse opposition to the PLDC. The public’s opposition is on so many levels — from the PLDC’s exempting itself from regulatory, planning, preservation, civil service, and competitive bidding requirements; to the shift in the DLNR’s balance from a preservation and conservation role to one of development for money; to the incompatibility of contemplated development with low or inverse market demand; to the burdens this development places on local infrastructure; to the shutting out of our local communities by holding public meetings about proposed development only on O’ahu; to excluding our City / County governments from any requirements to involve them in the evaluation, planning, and regulatory processes; and to how the PLDC and its exemptions shows disregard and contempt toward our host culture (Kanaka Maoli and Kanaka Hawai’i) for the stewardship and public trust responsibility of Crown / “Ceded” Lands. We are being asked to abrogate our responsibilities to future generations of Hawaiians who must rely on us to properly steward these precious and fragile resources for them in the name of increased revenue.
Rallies on Hawaii Island, held in the afternoon, include outside the DLNR Building in Hilo, by the Mormon Temple in Kona, and the lawn in front of the Senior Center behind the Kamehameha Statue in Kapaau.
The PLDC plans to holds a meeting on October 11 to work on revised rules and regulations governing the agency, part of a last ditch effort in the hopes of gaining public acceptance.