OHA/State Settlement Update

`Ano`ai kakou…  Two of the most important pieces of legislation in recent OHA history have been approved by committees in the State Senate and now looks toward consideration by the House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 2783

On March 2, 2012, the Senate Committees on Judiciary and Labor and Ways and Means passed SB 2783 (part of Governor Abercrombie’s Legislative Package) UNAMENDED.  SB 2783 will (1) Resolve all claims OHA has raised relating to its portion of income from the public land trust from November 7, 1978 to June 30, 2012; and (2) Fulfill constitutional obligations to Native Hawaiians by providing OHA with fee simple title to certain parcels of land situated in Kakaako makai.  The proposal would not affect any other claims against the state.  The bill now goes to the floor of the Senate for approval before it crosses over to the House.

I would like to thank everyone who supported S.B. 2783 including Governor Neil Abercrombie, the Attorney General; the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, the Kalihi Palama Hawaiian Civic Club, the O‘ahu Council Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, the Ko‘olau Foundation, Kako‘o ‘Oiwi, the Ko‘olaupoko Hawaiian Civic Club, the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement.

Once SB 2783 passes and the lands are transferred to OHA, the revenues generated by the parcels will help to support OHA’s many Native Hawaiian programs.  However, this may take some time as we assess all of the options available to us and work through complicated property issues that need to be dealt with before the parcels are ready for use.

Senate Bill 682, Senate Draft 1

Also on March 2nd, the Senate Committees on Water, Land, and Housing and Judiciary and Labor passed SB 682 SD1.  Essentially, SB 682 SD1 would allow residential development on two parcels (919 and 653 Ala Moana Blvd.) which will be conveyed to OHA if SB 2783 is approved by the legislature in its current form.

OHA, along with the Governor and Attorney General, testified in support of SB682 SD1. The Attorney General testified that he appreciates the bill’s intent and didn’t object to its passage as long as it does not hurt the passage of SB 2783 and is acceptable to the Legislature as a whole.  OHA took the same position.

The right to develop residential structures on these two lots would add significant value and could someday provide the needed revenue for our Nation to be self-sufficient.  It should also be noted that OHA remains committed to the guiding principles of the Conceptual Master Plan and will address these principles in any application for development permits for the two lots.

OHA Chair Colette Machado was quoted by KITV4 (March 2, 2012) that OHA would focus on affordable rental housing for Oahu’s workforce and not luxury condominiums.  Chair Machado stated that “We could go up to 200 feet, and we are looking at residential as an opportunity as a home base for our people.  We are talking rentals, not condos because we will not sell the ceded lands.”  Governor Abercrombie was also quoted as saying “This is part of a whole idea of Kakaako as the third city in Honolulu.  With this OHA settlement, Kakaako is going to be the place people want to be.”  SB682 SD1 now heads over to the House for consideration.  Aloha Ke Akua.