MILOLII, Hawaii – A senate bill that would attempt to purchase coastal lands in South Kona using transient accommodations tax revenues is in committee.
SB 1173 requires the Department of Land and Natural Resources, in consultation with the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, to engage in negotiations to acquire land located at Kapua near Milolii. The bill mandates that the acquisition be funded “wholly or in part by transient accommodations tax revenues”.
The legislature finds that the lands of Kapua in Miloli‘i on the island of Hawaii are a scenic wonder with breathtaking shoreline views that are slated for resort development by its owner, The Resort Group, which has so far developed the Ko Olina Resort on Oahu and Princeville at Hanalei. The lands of Kapua comprise at least 6,000 acres in South Kona that are classified as agricultural or conservation land. The Resort Group acquired the land from the Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate.
Kapua is a desirable location for an exotic vacation retreat and vacation home ownership, as described by the website of The Resort Group. Traditional Hawaiian language, dance, music, and craftsmanship thrive in Kapua. “This is a haven where modern and ancient are interwoven, a place still sparsely populated and open to discovery”, states the website.
The legislature further finds that the State should seek to acquire Kapua in the interests of preserving the area’s diminishing pristine condition for future generations while ensuring the preservation of agriculture and the prudent economic development of the area.SB 1173
Hilo State Senator Gil Kahele is one of the introducers of the bill. Kahele is from Milolii and knows the South Kona area well.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources says it appreciates the intent of SB 1173 and provided the following comments in written testimony:
Although the Department is not actively seeking to acquire these lands, we recognize there are significant natural and cultural resources in this area that warrant protection. The Department currently lacks the financial and personnel resources necessary to manage these lands, but would be interested in further discussions should management funding be available. Although the bill doesn’t specifically identify the parcels to be acquired, the preamble notes that the “lands of Kapua comprise at least 6,000 acres in South Kona that are classified as agricultural or conservation land.” Identification of the specific parcels and ownership would be helpful for the Department.DLNR on Feb. 11, 2015
The Department of Budget and Finance recommends that funding for the possible land acquisition be appropriated directly from the general fund instead of diverting revenues from the transient accommodations tax because “the net effect to the general fund is the same.”