`Ano`ai kakou… In 2012, when OHA received it’s Kakaako lands in our settlement with the State over past-due ceded land revenues, OHA was not appraised that the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA), which has jurisdiction over development in the area, planned to lease the harbor in Kakaako for 50 years to a California-based marina operator and increase the boats slips to 243.
For the past year, OHA has been negotiating with the HCDA to get them to compromise on their plans to put “finger piers” in front of our Fisherman’s Wharf property. On August 6, 2013, OHA received a letter from HCDA stating they will not make any compromises to their plans and expects OHA to be a “good neighbor” and accept their plan for our property.
Here are some of the specific concerns I have with the HCDA’s August 6, 2013 letter:
- HCDA considers OHA a “sister agency” but they are forcing OHA to accept a plan in which we have no opportunity for providing input. If HCDA wants OHA to be a “good neighbor” they should first recognize OHA as an equal partner in developing the harbor area in front of Fisherman’s Wharf.
- OHA would be willing to go along with the HCDA’s Finger Pier plan if we could have at least two slips in front of our Fisherman’s Wharf property. However, the HCDA responded that the lands of Kewalo Basin are submerged lands and the State is unable to convey fee simple interests in any of the slips. The HCDA needs to realize that all submerged lands are “ceded” and that Native Hawaiians are a part-beneficiary under the State Constitution. The Kakaako lands conveyed to OHA are on submerged lands – it’s all land-fill. It appears the HCDA doesn’t have a true understanding of Native Hawaiian rights and who OHA represents.
- The HCDA said they are concerned about the views of our community. If this were true, they would agree with OHA’s plans to minimize the impact of large boats docking in front of our property and allow OHA to design its own culturally appropriate sense of place that would be acceptable for everyone. When OHA conducted community meetings regarding the Kakaako land acquisition, the community was supportive in strong part due to OHA’s commitment to develop the area using Hawaiian concepts and sense of place.
OHA must continue to object to the current finger piers design and not fall victim to HCDA’s threats. If HCDA goes forward with signing any lease, OHA should consider suing the HCDA.
OHA should also appeal to the State legislature to revisit the powers it has given to HCDA and, if necessary, start a community-based campaign to reform the HCDA and prevent any further irresponsible development.
HCDA doesn’t appear to understand true Hawaiian values and the desires of the broader community regarding Kakaako. All they seem interested in is making the most money they can out of Kewalo Basin – with or without OHA.
If HCDA is really concerned about getting the maximum dollars for Kakaako, they would not be leasing the whole harbor to a mainland developer for 50-years for only $45 million. This measly figure is criminal! The State will lose out as well as OHA beneficiaries. So who is really benefiting from this deal? Time to ask questions of the HCDA and the State!